ATTENTION: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
you've been warned
Down go the lights. Up comes the static and grain of the projection. Joss Whedon's clean cut but tired head appears on the screen.
There are no commercials, no previews. Wayne Brady isn't whoring for Will Rogers. This is an unfinished, rough cut of the little show that couldn't.
This is Serenity.
In 2002, Fox ran a Friday night death-slot sci-fi show about a small group of traders aboard a shipping freighter. The show held promise, but Fox ran the episodes out of order, on a bad day of the week and at a horrible time. The final episode was the pilot. Three episodes never aired.
In Fox's infinite wisdom, they canceled Firefly because of poor ratings and cost. The story seemed to wander, never find focus and eventually it lost what few viewers it had.
That is, according to the network.
What happened after the show aired, then canceled, can be placed in the Pantheon next to Farscape and Spencer for Hire. The fans amassed. Their voices were heard. Late in 2003, rumors begin swirling the net and convention circuit that Firefly would have a feature film. In March of 2004 that rumor was proven true as Universal announced officially that it was producing Serenity.
Now, more than a year later, the little show that couldn't has become the little movie that will.
For fans of the show, this will be a return to greatness. The show itself had a high budget, but it never appeared that anything was overly rendered. The world Whedon created was a real, tangible, plausible universe. A universe where American and Chinese cultures have merged. A universe in which there are no sound effects in space. A universe where people die, even though you may like them.
This had every part of why the show itself was such overlooked splendor. The writing, the acting, the staging and directing, are far beyond any sci-fi or action or adventure movie since the beginning of the genre. The film doesn't beat you over the head with special effects or bore you with plot lines so contrived you need to read comic books or novels to understand what's happening. It also delivers the history of the universe in a quick, painless prologue. It's perfect for the non-fanatic and allows the movie to stand on it's own. It pretends you've never seen a single episode of the doomed show.
And that's the greatest compliment I can give it. The movie stands on its own.
As Joss Whedon said in his pre-movie speech, this film is the result of the fans screaming into the void, demanding the story be told. If the movie is good, tell your friends, tell everyone. If it sucks, well then it's your fault. If you love it, tell people, if you don't, now's the time for quiet, contemplative thought.
But he needn't worry. The plot is simple and easy to follow. It's linear and clean with few breaks for exposition. The characters are well defined, full of purpose and as amiable as a family dog. You can't help but love everyone in this cast and crew for the job they did. Even in this rough, 80-90% completed version, the signs of greatness are there. Left as is, I would put this among the all time bests. Polished up, I fear for the rest of the movies this summer.
But here's the problem, it's still a little movie. Serenity appeals to a broader audience, but the broader audience must know about it. So here's where you come in. Tell you friends. Tell your AIM buddies and your blog commentors and your message board friends. Tell your brothers and sisters and mom's and dad's and college buddies and bridge partners and mechanics and grocers. Tell everyone you can think of that this is the movie to see this summer. You have to get the word out because in the light of the high dollar trademarks coming out that are bound to or have already disappointed, we, the fans, have to speak up and let Hollywood know that good movies are appreciated.
Little shows should be too.
Huzzah to Universal.
Huzzah to Joss Whedon
Huzzah to the Browncoats.
For more information about the movie, please visit The Browncoats
Starring: Nathan Fillion (Capt. Malcolm Reynolds), Gina Torres (Zoe), Alan Tudyk (Wash), Sean Maher (Simon), Jewel Staite (Kaylee), Summer Glau (River), Ron Glass (Shepherd Book), Morena Baccarin (Inara), Adam Baldwin (Jayne), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Operative), David Krumholtz (Mr. Universe), Raphael Feldman (Fanty), Yan Feldman (Mingo), Michael Hitchcock (Dr. Mathias)
Director: Joss Whedon
U.S. Opening Date: September 30, 2005