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Published:October 3rd, 2005 07:37 EST
Movie Review: Serenity

Movie Review: Serenity

By Sean Stubblefield

By looking at it, you can’t really tell it cost only $40 million to make. One of the best movies of 2005 is an underrated film by the name of Serenity, from the mind of Joss Whedon--- who also created another cult favorite known as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and its spin-off series entitled Angel. This review is for those who haven’t planned to see Serenity. You will find no spoilers here, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. For anyone who hasn’t seen, or wasn’t intending to see, this movie, I highly recommend you go as soon as possible. Seriously. Don’t wait for DVD or cable, since this is the kind of movie best experienced on a large screen. Too bad it wasn’t released on IMAX. Serenity is so beautiful, so eloquent, so coherent, that you’ll probably want to see it sooner rather than later. And maybe more than once. Yes, it is that good.

I laughed. I cried. It became a part of me.

3.5 out of 4 stars.


The tagline on the movie poster is, “The future is worth fighting for.”

I really don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that the movie is ultimately and essentially a story about the pursuit of freedom, how far people are willing to go to build a better world, and the consequences of each. Serenity is an extension of the short lived television series called Firefly, an eccentric sci-fi western about a motley crew of outlaws trying to make a life for themselves free of the dictates of civilization, 500 years in the future. Through the course of the movie they discover, become involved in and seek to expose a government conspiracy & the cover up of a failed attempt to genetically engineer “better” people. This is a morality tale about good intentions paving the road to hell, the evils of trying to control people in order to manufacture a “utopian” society, and the dangerous irony of losing freedom while trying to preserve it.

Providing closure for the series, it wraps up all the loose ends, as well as leaves open the possibility for more stories.

Granted, melding two genres like science fiction and western is an unusual and unlikely combination, but it works— if you like that sort of thing. For some, it’s an acquired taste.

The fact that a wide release theater movie was produced based on an obscure and quirky sci-fi show that was canceled before half a season’s worth of episodes aired is a testament to the strength of this story. Much like Star Trek, Firefly became more popular after it was canceled. Sometimes, you just don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone. Also like Star Trek, a cult phenomenon was developing.

However, beyond that, this movie is almost nothing like Star Trek, at least in style.

When the series went to DVD, the sales of Firefly indicated a definite audience and interest, enough that a movie was green-lighted. Through word of mouth, the popularity of Firefly gradually increased as the DVDs circulated, and its fan base grew as more people became aware of Firefly and got hooked. Fortunately, this is an excellent movie, a pleasure to watch— especially if you liked the series.  Unfortunately, most of the advertising for this movie consists of favorable word of mouth, so the majority of converts are within the science fiction fandom, not the general population. So not only will a lot of people miss out on all the fun, it may not do so well at the box office. This movie deserves more attention, and a sequel.

So, please, go see it. It will be good for you and good for the movie.

Even if you’ve never seen the Firefly TV series, you would probably still enjoy Serenity. The movie is written in such a way that fans and non-fans can both understand and appreciate it. Familiarity with the series is not necessary, but Serenity will mean more to you if you are familiar. While it works well enough as a stand-alone story, independent of the series, it also works great as a continuation of the series, where it left off. This isn’t just a movie for the sake of a movie, where nothing meaningful happens and the characters are left unchanged when the credits roll. The movie features many significant and substantial character and plot developments.


Even if you generally don’t like science fiction or westerns, I ask you to try it, because it is much more than the sum of its parts. This movie has a little something for everyone, borrowing from and crossing all genres. It’s got action, adventure, mystery, drama, comedy, horror, romance… as well as a science fiction and western feel. It’s got it all!

Serenity engages the imagination, the mind and the emotions. This is a movie full of excitement, charm, intrigue, surprises and FUN!