Friday, November 4, 2011


 Ah Friday night and I had the house to myself. And with it being Friday night TV3 usually has a movie on at 8.30. So empty house and yours truly ( oh and the cat ) settled in for a few hours. Now I've never seen
Serenity before and really knew little about it besides what I read in the paper. But even as I read the paper's abbreviated review I know...that almost sixth sense kicked in.

 I found this a strange movie. It is a full length, big screen release, and yet it has its root is television. I'm fairly sure this didn't play here in NZ theatres and probably went straight to DVD. I'm 99% sure I wouldn't have bothered to see it on the big screen either. It just looks too much like a made for TV movie and yet it was made specifically for the big screen. Somehow the effect just does not work. Its not that it looks cheap, it just doesn't look right. Seriously the CGI is no better quality than what you see in Doctor Who or any of the myriad of Star Trek spin offs. On the big screen they must have looked lame, but all the same acceptable for telly.

 You have all seen made for TV movies and you know what they visually look like. But I really can't figure why it was made for the big screen. It is a continuation of a short runned TV series Firefly of which this movie is based after the last episode. I've never heard of the series and I'm pretty certain it never reached NZ shores. Apparently the series was scrapped after 11 of a supposed 14 episodes. Producer Joss Whedon, after unsuccessfully having another studio buy it, decided to make a film out of it ( here is my explanation of why it was made for the big screen!! ).

 The problem is as I've stated is that visually, scriptually and acting wise it just can't escape its television roots. There is a lot to like but if I had seen this in a theatre I would not have been happy to have watched what is essentially a made for telly movie. My other problem with Serenity is this....WTF is it all about?????? Seriously I couldn't make head nor tail of the plot what so ever! So for its 119 minute running time I was scratching my head wondering what it was all about. Strange to think that I sat through a two hour movie all the time hoping something would happen to explain it all. But no, the end came and I was still in the dark!

 Maybe I needed to see the series but this made no sense to me at all. I came close to turning it off because I couldn't fathom the plot. It wasn't so much overly complicated but it was if it was trying too hard. I sort of grasped the almost Star Wars Empire and Alliance angle and the Minority Report similarities, but after that I was lost. What was all the fuss about the girl ? Who was she and what was her gift/power/ thingy?? Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? That was me all the way through!

 So the script really left a lot to be desired. It was cloudy at best and didn't seem to clarify what the whole point was story wise. But this was its major drawback because other wise the CGI and the acting was pretty cool considering its TV origins. The cast is actually quite solid, especially Nathan Fillion of TV's Castle and horror film Slither fame. He plays these deadpan comedic roles so well and again here he is in top form. Alan Tudyk who I know from Death at a Funeral ( the English version and not he inferior American re-make/butchery ), Alan Baldwin etc make for, and do a reasonable job. But again it all has that made for TV feel.

 Apparently on release in 2005 it performed poorly at the box office and yet received generally favourable reviews from critics. But overall it was felt to be a modest sci-fi movie that couldn't shake off its TV roots. For me, whist I didn't mind its origins, I wouldn't have been impressed to have seen it on the big screen. But the thing I can't escape with Serenity is its plot which just doesn't seem to explain anything or go anywhere as such. I sat down for 2 hours and watched a movie that I couldn't for the life of me comprehend! So either I'm completely thick or the script failed to deliver. I will leave you to decide!

 Amazingly IMDB has this with 7.9/10!!!! I just don't believe it warrants that all. I'd be hard pressed to give it more than 4/10 simply because it isn't a genuine big screen movie and the script is too cloudy. When a movie can't clearly explain itself within two hours and loses the viewer there is something wrong. I wouldn't say it was poor but it is certainly a TV movie and a TV movie alone.

In a word.......odd. Thank goodness I have Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me and The Exorcist to watch tomorrow and Sunday night!

Click here for a synopsis and more:

 And if you really want more then I highly recommend a visit to wikipedia's page which is extremely detailed and thorough...( but in no way clarified the plot for me! ).


  1. Hmmm I actually have not even heard of this one, but sounds interesting, and odd ;) great review man

  2. What you describe is a little like how I felt after watching Ep.1 of Firefly. By the time I got to the last installment I was screaming at the TV nooooh!!! they can't have cancelled this, there must be more. Firefly is genius and has a wordwide following of disappointed fans. The problem with Serenity is that Whedon knew it was it's last outing and tried to wrap up the plot and storylines for the fans; stuff which should have taken another season of television. No wonder you were bemused. If you get the chance, view a few Fireflys, you'll see what I mean.

  3. Serenity is a film for the Firefly fans so as a newcomer I am not surprised you had no idea what was going on!

    I really respect Joss Whedon for making a film for the fans rather than trying to create new ones.

    The film wasn't the best introduction to the characters but fans of the show already know them, their quirks and their mannerisms. It was a film for us and not newbies

    Casting wise it is one of the best ensemble casts around.

    The CGI is basic but the film was made on a shoestring budget and as a fan I can look past it. On the big screen (I was there on opening night!) it looked fine. It may look cheap and it is tv quality but it doesn't matter.

    Firefly was a fantastic tv show which got cancelled before its time and Serenity was the final farewell to the fans.

    If you can pick up Firefly on dvd you really should give it a go and then rewatch the film as I think you will get a lot more out of it with the background knowledge.

    As you can tell I am a huge fan - it is such a well written and clever tv show.

    K :-D

  4. Matt...yeah it has good points but seriously it os odd because i couldn't fathom the plot what so ever....odd odd odd odd is all I can say!

    Gary...I didn't realise it was based on a TV show until after I watched it. But yeah I was lost as to what it was all about!

    Ah Karina! As stated no series behind me meant me lost lost lost! Honestly I couldn't fathom the bloody thing at all!!!!!!! But as soon as I found out it was the wrapping up of a TV seriesit sort of explained things as to why the plot was as clear as mud.
    I didn't dislike it I just couldn't follow it and I critiqued it as a first time watcher rather than a fan. I don't think it is even on DVD here.

  5. Brent never underestimate the passion of a Brown Coat (a reference to the crazed Firefly fandom!)

    If you get a chance you should check it out.

    K :-)

  6. Good review! Really enjoyed Serenity. The final fight scene with Fillion and Chiwetel Ejiofor was really well-done.

  7. Thanks Ty! Yeah it is a shame the series didn't play here as it would certainly have clarified Serenity's plot a bit more. I didn't dislike it I just couldn't follow it!