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It's been a while, maybe since The Matrix that a movie has created such a buzz in the geek community. Almost everyone I know has been looking forward to seeing this movie. It's funny because Serenity is a continuation of a TV series, Firefly, which was canceled by Fox after only 10 episodes. But it had such a fanatical following that when the DVD of the series came out, it sold 500,000 copies. Anyway, I'm happy to say that even though the expectation level was set rather high, Serenity came through with flying colors. In case you never saw Firefly, Serenity tells the story of a crew of misfits who fly their spaceship (named Serenity) around the Galaxy trying to earn a living smuggling cargo while staying one step ahead of the authorities. Their ship is a sort of a low-rent Millennium Falcon and their captain (Nathan Fillion) is a ragged but hunky Han Solo. He and his beautiful but intimidating first mate (Gina Torres) served in the unsuccessful rebellion against The Alliance which is the nasty government that runs things. The rest of the crew consists of a spacey pilot (Alan Tudyk) who is married to the first mate, a beautiful young engineer (Jewel Staite), a ugly, tough and not too swift guy named Jayne (Adam Baldwin), a hunky doctor (Sean Maher) and his beautiful wacko sister (Summer Glau). Two ex-members of the crew, their grizzled spiritual leader (Ron Glass) and a beautiful extremely high-class hooker (Morena Baccarin) are now living elsewhere. The plot of the movie involves The Alliance's interest in capturing the wacko sister. She was programmed by The Alliance to be a "wrecking machine" as Burgess Meredith would say, but was rescued by her brother. Another killing machine (Chiwetel Ejiofor) has been dispatched to bring her in. The crew of Serenity is aided by geeky guy named Mr. Universe (David Krumholtz). I don't want to spoil things for you so I'll just say that much mayhem and hilarity ensue.
Serenity is very good movie. Joss Whedon, the writer/director of Serenity and of its precursor, Firefly, was also the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He is a third generation TV writer. His grandfather wrote for The Donna Reed Show and Leave It to Beaver, and his father wrote for The Dick Cavett Show, Alice and Benson. In much the same way that Buffy combined very funny lines with the serious work of killing vampires, Serenity mixes up the laughs and the tears in a very compelling way. The crew of Serenity are a bunch of combat-happy Joes much like Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, so the one-liners fly even when things look grim. And they are very funny. Whedon is, above all, a good writer and a nice script makes all the difference. The dialog as Whedon describes it, "is western but it's also Irish, turn-of-the-century Pennsylvania Dutch, a lot of Elizabethan, some John Wayne." The movie also has a cool look to it even though the special effects are pretty low rent. The budget for Serenity was only $40 million. Of course, the no-name cast members weren't getting $20 million paydays. But the cast is great anyway. Most of them I've hardly seen anywhere except in Firefly. You may recognize Adam Baldwin who has been in a million things but most memorably in the X-Files, Ron Glass (Barney Miller), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, Love Actually), Alan Tudyk (A Knight's Tale), Gina Torres (The Matrix Reloaded) and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs).
It is not necessary to be a geek or to have seen the Firefly TV series to enjoy Serenity. They do a really good job of reintroducing the characters for the movie, particularly during a nice single shot lasting four and a half minutes at the beginning of the film. This is a fun movie with lots of action, good characters and lively dialog. It's doing pretty well at the box office taking in about $20 million so far. A lot of people including me are coming out of Serenity wanting to see it again. And, I am already looking forward to the sequel. So, go along for the ride. As Serenity's Captain says over the intercom to his crew, "we may experience some turbulence and then...explode."