Friday, October 14, 2005

Movie Review: Serenity

Oh, this is the first of my movie reviews, so bear with me, eh?

Ok, last night I went to see Serenity, which is a continuation of Joss Whedon's prematurely cancelled series, Firefly. Now, I haven't seen Firefly so I came to this movie with almost no expectations. Pretty much all I knew was that, supposedly, if you like Star Wars then you'll like Serenity.

That's a pretty fair assesment as you can see that Joss Whedon has been clearly influenced by the Star Wars movies. The good news for most people will be that the influence is from the original trilogy and not the prequels (although, personally, I feel that Episode III redeemed the prequels [but I still find it hard to stay awake during Attack fo the Clones).

The big influences from Star Wars are the used, dirty, malfuntioning technology and the character of Han Solo...the Han Solo that shot first. The Serenity itself shares a lot in common with the Millennium Falcon. While it's a lot bigger, it's just as prone to breaking down at the wrong moment. It's Captain, Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), shares a lot in common with the Falcon's captain too, albeit a Solo before he bumps into an old Jedi and his young apprentice.

At this point I should make it clear that these comparisons are in no way a bad thing. Indeed, one of the most disappointing things about the new Star Wars films was the clean, fully functioning un-Star Warsy ships and the complete lack of a Han Solo type character. For many people Han Solo was their favourite character, and for a lot of Star Wars fans Serenity will provide a welcome dose of Han Soloness.

Serenity is by no means just a Star Wars rip-off though and it's over all tone is a lot darker than any of George Lucas' films. Whedon shows himself to be a master storyteller and while genre fans will probably always be one step ahead of the plot the movie never falls into cliche.

The films biggest strength is the wonderful dialogue, through which you instantly connect with all of the main characters. That was always the best thing about Buffy, so it's no surprise that it's present here too.

What makes this film so absorbing though is also what differentiates it from the Star Wars movies. Whereas Lucas' universe is full of stark moral contrasts, where good and evil are clearly defined, almost all of the characters in Serenity inhabit a definite grey area, morally. Our heroes, the crew of the Serenity, are not averse to breaking the law to make ends meet, and our villains, The Alliance, sincerely believe they are acting in the interests of the greater good.

The effects are fantastic, though they never take centre stage. Film fans should look out for an incredibly long steady cam shot near the beginning of the film.

All in all this is an excellent film, exactly what I've been waiting for for a looooong time. Now I need to go buy the DVD box set of Firefly and see what I've been missing.

Rating: 8/10

No comments: