"She is startin' to damage my calm."
-- Jayne Cobb from the movie Serenity
We are constantly threatened with television shows being re-conceived and passed off as movies. Most threats are in the form of remakes, such as S.W.A.T., Bewitched, and Dukes of Hazzard, trying to get a few bucks in the name of nostalgia. There are a few attempts to extend the magic of a successful series onto the big screen. There has been talk of putting Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and even The Simpsons on the big screen.
One attempt at extending a series into movie format was the X-Files. I only watched a few episode of the X-Files, so watching it translated to film format wasn't as an exciting prospect for me as it would be for some. To me, X-Files: The Movie didn't work for me on a lot of levels. The main problem I had with that film was it was drew a lot from the show's mythos, which other viewers were aware of but I was not. This left me feeling out of the inner circle. Oh well, not much of a loss in my opinion.
Now comes Serenity. The movie is based on a cancelled television show called Firefly. As I understand it, this was not any ordinary cancelled series, but one with a huge fanatic fan base. Here's the //Netflix summary:
Picking up where his cult show "Firefly" left off, writer-director Joss Whedon's tale of galactic unrest follows Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), captain of the transport ship Serenity, and his scrappy but loyal crew. When the ship picks up two new passengers -- fugitives from the powerful coalition ruling the universe -- "Mal" and his mates find themselves at the center of a cosmic conflict, pursued by military forces and space-roaming savages.
What I liked about the movie: The movie is very well written. The characters are well rounded, dispensing smart and witty dialog in tense and quite moments, never slowing down the movie. It is a testament to Joss Whedon's writing skills that I was able to identify with the characters, and follow the story, even though I was not a viewer of the television show. It's clear that "Mal" is molded after Han Solo of Star Wars, but that's forgivable. It makes it easier for the uninitiated to identify with the character quickly. The space combat scenes, even though at times they involved large amount of ships, wasn't as disorienting as those in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. George Lucas should take note.
What I didn't like: Acutally, I couldn't find much fault with the movie, other than I wish it wouldn't have ended. I would like to see where the characters can go from here. But I do not think the movie was successful enough to spawn a sequel, which is a shame. We get sequels to some pretty crappy movies (e.g. Bad Boys II), but not to well made films such as Serenity. Oh well, such is the wisdom of Hollywood.
Serenity: **** (out of 5)