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Nathan Fillion and Adam
Baldwin are "feeling a
might postal," and looking
to take it out on Universal's
advertising executives.

(Hollywood remake or sequel, or film based on a comic book, book, play or video game # 52, since January 1st, 2005. Click for full list of Hollywood's lack of original ideas.)
Review written by: Alex Sandell

In 1966 a science-fiction program called Star Trek aired and almost nobody watched it.  The show was cancelled.  In 1982 a dark and gritty new vision of the future was released starring Harrison Ford and titled Blade Runner.   Nobody went.  In 2002 Joss Whedon created a critically-acclaimed show known as Firefly.  It was cancelled.  But the program found new life -- and new fans -- on DVD.  The success of the DVD led to a full-length theatrical film, Serenity.  Will it be overlooked like Star Trek, Blade Runner and Firefly before it?  It looks that way.  

But why?

I hate to point fingers (okay, really I don't), but Universal's marketing team stinks.  If they had marketed Revenge of the Sith, it would have left the theater with its lightsaber between its legs and less than 30 million in its wallet.  The studio would probably rename it "Sith" and never let anyone know that it was a Star Wars' film.  The ads would end with some arcane message like, "You can't stop the Boga."

Whenever I recommend Serenity to anyone outside of the Internet I get 1 of 4 responses:  Response # 1:  I've never heard of it.  What's it about?  Response # 2:  Isn't that the one where that Serenity girl kicks people's asses?  Response # 3:  What the hell is the signal and why the fuck can't I stop it?  Response # 4:  Isn't that an adult diaper?

You know your marketing department is doing a poor job when the general public doesn't even know what the movie they're marketing is, and the handful that do know incorrectly think it's about a girl named Serenity who fights like she's auditioning for the next Matrix film or Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off.  The movie isn't a hard one to advertise.    It's not about a girl named Serenity.  Serenity is a ship (and also a lousy title for a sci-fi film).  It was Universal's job to clue people in on this.

Serenity should not be missed.  Rid your mind of Universal's horrible ad-campaign and do yourself a favor -- see this movie!  This could be the birth of the greatest science-fiction saga since Star Wars.  Or it could never find its audience, quietly leave the theater and become a modest hit on video where it will die an undeserving death.  If you haven't seen the movie, the latter probably doesn't sound so horrible to you.  But that's just because you have NO IDEA how great the movie you're missing actually is.  If you plan on missing it, you best get a foot ready, because you're going to be kicking yourself when you find out what you've been missing.

Serenity is the story of Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew trying to scrape up a living in the outlying planets after a group of core planets is brought together by the Alliance.  Mal and his crew are a bunch of Han Solo types, just trying to move cargo, get paid, and stay out of trouble.  About a year ago they took in Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher), and his stowaway sister, River (Summer Glau).  River is wanted by the Alliance and the crew of Serenity has been unable to shake the pesky Government entity ever since she snuck onboard.  The Alliance sends The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to hunt down and capture River.  The Operative will do whatever it takes to bring River back to the Alliance. 

Writer and Director Joss Whedon doesn't pull any punches with this movie.  Whedon's unflinching screenplay keeps the audience guessing right through 'til the end as to what's going to happen.  This movie has elephant balls.  Imagine George Lucas killing Han Solo in Return of the Jedi and you'll get an idea as to how far Whedon is willing to push his audience.  All bets are off, and you won't know what's coming and won't believe it once it arrives. 

That's not to say the film is all doom and gloom.  There are plenty of comedic moments and some great action scenes.  Wash (Alan Tudyk) is full of memorable one-liners and keeps the film soaring over the rough spots.  Kaylee's (Jewel Staite) trademark smile is firmly in place and the girl still gets blood pumping "to that certain area" like a bottle of Viagra.  Jewel Staite manages to separate sweetness from sap and keeps her character convincing (she also gets a hysterically funny line about masturbation).   Hell, the whole cast is in rare form.  It's hard to believe it's been 2 years since the show went off the air.  The chemistry between cast-members is undeniable and not one person involved misses a beat.  

But bringing up the ill-fated TV series is the mistake Universal made.  You do not need to watch Firefly to enjoy Serenity.  This is a stand-alone movie that will keep you entertained from beginning to end.  Like I said at the beginning of this review, rid your mind of Universal's failure of an advertising campaign.  Watch this movie for what it is:  The first in what will hopefully be a long line of incredible science-fiction adventures.  Serenity is one of the best movies of 2005, one of the best sci-fi movies of the past 20 years and a movie that should not be missed by anyone.

Note:  I deliberately avoided comparing the movie to the television show in this review (hence the overall suckage of this review).  I also strongly refrained from giving away any spoilers (ditto).  If you want to discuss the movie, or your opinions of the movie Vs. the TV show, send me an email!

Pre-order Serenity on DVD today (yes, it's already being
released), and see where it all began with a copy of
Firefly! Already own them? Pick up a copy for someone
you love. Or like. Or even just consider okay. Don't
be the one to stop the signal!

Agree, disagree, do you wish you had a better education?  Email Alex!

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