Date watched: Friday 9th December 2016
Year released: 2005
First time watching?: Of course not
From IMDb: “The crew of the ship Serenity try to evade an assassin sent to recapture one of their numbers who is telepathic.”
This is the movie us Browncoats demanded.
The short lived TV series, “Firefly” created by television God Joss Whedon gathered itself an enormous following, which unfortunately didn’t build itself much momentum until after the show was cancelled due to poor ratings. However, someone in the showbiz industry took pity on our mourning, and provided Joss with the means to create a feature film featuring our favourite team of miscreants.
The opening sequence of this movie if one of my favourite openings to any movie ever made. The initial introduction to the ‘Verse (designed for people who’d never seen the TV show as well as those who had) from the Universal logo melding into the Earth with a voiceover, who turns out to be teaching a class, which turns out to be River’s memory, which is actually a hologram video … what is real? What isn’t? Simply stunning use of cutting between scenes and cramming a lot of backstory into five minutes.
It’s then followed by a just as beautiful introduction to the crew of the ship Serenity: a wonderful long shot which just one very cleverly hidden cut between sets as the two floors of the ship were built on different stages. It just shows how seamlessly the crew works and fits together, along with some of the funniest dialogue ever said on screen in my opinion. Long shots are one of Joss Whedon’t favourite tools in cinema, and it is used to wonderful effect here.
Joss Whedon is one of my favourite directors, I even had the head table at my wedding named “Whedon” (I had a movie themed wedding) and as his first cinematic directorial outing, this movie is spectacular. Although the characters had already been established with the television series, they are introduced well enough in the movie for people who’d never seen the show without boring those who were familiar with “Firefly” and telling us about everyone again.
The pacing of this movie never drops, and a lot of the action sequences are cinematically stunning. Summer Glau trained as a dancer, and this is apparent in all her fight sequences. Joss is very skilled at writing what media describes as ‘strong female characters’ and this movie certainly isn’t lacking in those. Not a single character is wasted; everyone gets their shining moment and lives an impact on those watching.
It’s very difficult to review a movie that I love so much, especially one that still tugs on the heartstrings at the same moments it did upon first viewing in the cinema (“I’m a leaf on the wind …”) but I still rave about it now and recommend it to many people even if science fiction isn’t their favourite genre. The TV show was often peddled as a space-western, and while the movie is more sci-fi than the TV show was, it’s a wonderful last statement for the ‘Verse.
My rating: 10/10
Postscript on the review: My motivation to rewatch this movie came from the recent news about the wonderful Ron Glass. While my only recollection of him in film and television is as Shepherd Book in “Firefly” and “Serenity”, I cannot imagine anyone else in that role, and he will be sorely missed from our ‘Verse.