Serenity (2005): Firefly Rides Off Into the Sunset

In 2005 fans of the television series of Firefly were finally able to get some closure. Joss Whedon’s western space show, Firefly had been cut off at the knees before it could really take off. Fox network (who I think should win the ‘We Hate Joss Award’) axed the new series almost, it seems, out of spite.

Firefly had a good solid fan base and characters that appealed to the audience. The show played well and the whole first season set up what should have been season two and beyond. The question has to be asked. Did Joss piss off Fox in some obscure way? Or was Fox annoyed that Firefly wasn’t another Buffy? We will never know.

That Whedon has a good track record on television is a matter of fact. You cannot have two programs that run for years and have an almost rabidly faithful fan base without having done something right. Of course you cannot talk about early cancellations without mentioning Dollhouse (2009). Fox called the shots on Joss’s next television baby and their guidance doomed the show to a quick death. By following Fox’s guidelines Joss took too long to build up the show and started losing the viewing wars before the show could build up steam.

But with Dollhouse, Joss was able to give fans of the show a bit of closure. The second season was allowed to finish and so finished the story. Perhaps not to a very satisfactory conclusion, but it was a conclusion of sorts, not like the hasty death of Firefly.

I won’t waste time going into the plot and characters of Firefly. If you have stopped to read this article you will already be familiar with the verse as presented on television.

Firefly (TV series)

Serenity is just Firefly grown up. Despite the small budget, the film feels bigger, more expansive and more dangerous than the tv show. All the show’s regulars are there. It felt a little like a class reunion. All the familiar folks are here, just a little older and perhaps not any wiser but their performances have aged like a fine wine.

The cast list is as follows:

Nathan Fillion as Mal

Gina Torres as Zoe

Alan Tudyk as Wash

Morena Baccarin as Inara

Adam Baldwin as Jayne

Jewel Staite as Kaylee

Sean Maher as Simon

Summer Glau as River

Ron Glass as Shepard Derrial Book

Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative

David Krumholtz as Mr Universe

The film opens with the rescue of River by her brother Simon. We find out that what we are watching is security footage of the River’s escape and the man watching the footage is the scary “The Operative” a deadly government man tasked to bring River back.

The rest of the film is the crew of Serenity trying to stay one step ahead of The Operative. There are brilliant scenes in the movie. The “I swallowed a bug.” scene aka “All right, let’s be bad guys.” This opening ensemble piece shows the group dynamic and introduces us to Reaver’s, bloodthirsty man-monsters who torture, rape, and kill everyone they come in contact with.

I won’t go too much into the film as there might just be someone out there who hasn’t heard of Browncoats, Firefly, or Reavers. But I will mention my second favourite scene in the film.

The crew of Serenity land and disembark on a planet. The whole crew is upset because Simon and River are going to leave. Mal and Jayne go to deal with their fences. River goes to watch a televised commercial for fruity oat bars. She sees something in the commercial that prompts her to murmur the word, Miranda.

The second she says the word, the ninety pound girl proceeds to kick every conceivable ass in the bar. She incapacitates Jayne and is in a ‘Mexican Stand off’  with Mal, when Simon saves the day.

This entire scene is a show stopper. The choreography for this fight scene (designed to show just how dangerous River is) is balletic and beautiful. It takes my breath every time I see it.

Of course, later in the film, we see why River is so deadly.

Even if you are not a Firefly fan and need some sort of closure, watch this film. I actually saw Serenity before I watched the television show. It is the best example of why Joss is boss and why he was the only choice to helm the Avenger’s Assemble film.

About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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