Writer-Director Joss Whedon has had an interesting past. Moving from his exceptional work on the movie Toy Story, to Buffy and on to his most recent project, Firefly; Whedon truly has a gift for creating interesting and believable alternate realities, fascinating characters and believable conflict. This is no less evident in Serenity, Whedon’s continuation of the Firefly franchise on the big screen.

Most movies that migrate from science fiction TV to the movies make the transition solely on the basis of popularity. Serenity is the exception.

While Firefly, the series that gave birth to Serenity, had a hard-core following, the transition to the big screen was compelled by Firefly’s failure to catch on rather than its success. Firefly never caught when it was initially struck.

Although the show had an admired but ill-fated run on television, most of the principals involved with the series thought it was destined for the archives once it was pulled from the air. However the story of the voyage that began on Firefly was too compelling to die with the television series, and the story alone drove fans to urge the continuation of the series with an almost religious devotion. The fans brought the story back from the dead, and Serenity was born.

It is easy to understand the reason for Firefly’s demise and cult re-birth. At first glance it appears to be a rather odd story. A group of people dressed like extras from the set of HBO’s exemplary but profane Deadwood cruising from planet to planet on a starship with faster-than-light capability? A crew made up of a courtesan, an aggressive but mentally challenged soldier, a mannish but attractive female starship mechanic, a prim and proper physician, a psychotic super-human weapon housed in a lithe female container, and a sharp-edged but warm-hearted captain suffering from PTSD. This crew makes the happy Star Trek the Next Generation crew look like the Brady Bunch in space.

But this is NOT STNG, and thank God for that. The world of Serenity contains none of the easy camaraderie and simple, heavy-handed lessons that ubiquitously fill the STNG universe. Serenity speeds through a universe riddled with human fallibility, misunderstanding, greed, aggression and profanity. In short, Serenity seems to inhabit a real future, devoid of perfection and tolerance. This complexity is why the story is so compelling, but also why the story did not initially find an audience.

I realize that this review has told you little about the actual plot of the movie. This is by design. Instead of giving away the plot, I want you to go out and rent it. Trust me, you won’t regret it. (**** Jessicas out of four)

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