Reviews & Previews - Serenity

Posted on Friday, October 14, 2005 at 07:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Summer Glau
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references

The Future Is Dingy... But Fun

Serenity is a space movie, but don't let that turn you off. This isn't the Shakespeare quoting, squeaky clean space of Star Trek or the dull political exercise of the recent Star Wars movies. Instead Serenity is a rocket ride that keeps your attention with its clever mix of space battles, old fashioned western dialogue and kung fu influences. Somehow director Joss Whedon makes it all work together and delivers a movie with enough jokes and action to make it worth your while.

Serenity is the name of a space ship captained by Mal (Fillion), who has unwittingly taken on board a passenger (River, played by Glau) wanted by the ruling government called the Alliance. As Mal and his crew try and discover what secrets River holds they are also trying to determine whether or not to help her at all. This is where Serenity veers away from the typical space movie. These characters are more than simply cookie cutter imitations of characters we've seen before.

Mal is heroic but he is not quite the standard issue hero. He has a dark side that can manifest itself and his primary goal isn't to be heroic but simply to survive, even if that survival requires some difficult choices. In one scene Mal is being chased by some zombies called Reavers and when an innocent bystander tries to jump on Mal's ship to escape he kicks the man off because the ship can't support the extra weight. When the Reavers take the man Mal then shoots him to spare him from being eaten alive. Hard to imagine Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek ever taking that kind of action.

These characters act more like people do today and like people you or I might know. They make jokes, they argue and they get frustrated with each other. Whedon's dialogue is snappy and he includes enough moments of levity in the movie to keep it bouncing along at a rapid pace. All the actors do a good job and while no Oscars are going to be handed out they handle the mix of laughs and action very well.

Within this futuristic yet familiar surrounding the film also delivers in the special effects department. You won't see anything mind bogglingly new in the film but it looks as good as anything we've seen recently. In addition, the set design is terrific. The ships, the cities and the clothes in the movie all look lived in and worn as if they have seen and withstood the test of time. It all works to give you a feeling of authenticity.

Admittedly the plot of the movie is pretty average but by fleshing out the characters and the universe they live in so well the film is able to move along despite these deficiencies. Give credit to Whedon for understanding what kind of movie he was making and for delivering a really entertaining product. This is a movie you can enjoy even if you've never seen the TV show the film was based on.


3.5 stars out of 5.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to