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flick pick | Serenity 2005
Directed + written by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: sci-fi, action/adventure
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  action-packed, witty
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Based on the short-lived TV series Firefly, Serenity follows the motley crew of the spaceship Serenity, including Captain Mal Reynolds, first mate Zoe, pilot Wash, engineer Kaylee and strong man Jayne. Picking up odd “transport” jobs (read: smuggling) on the far edges of the populated galaxy, they’ve been doing their best to scrape by and stay under the radar of the ever-watchful and creepy ruling Alliance. The latter is a task that seems particularly difficult of late; Mal and Zoe have long been on the outs with the regime (having fought as members of the rebel Browncoats who lost the war that brought the Alliance into power in the first place), but Serenity’s standing with those in power has become even more tenuous ever since the crew managed to pick up two fugitives whom the Alliance is desperate to get back into their custody. The wanted pair are a young doctor named Simon Tam and his mentally unstable but brilliant younger sister River. River, it turns out, was once the reluctant center of a super-covert government-sponsored program that experimented with her genius-level mind and turned her into a deadly weapon capable of reading minds, and killing on command. By the time Simon broke in to rescue her, she’d already been driven to the point of insanity; on board Serenity, it becomes ever more obvious that River’s hopelessly scrambled brain is hiding some deep secrets, and that these secrets make her dangerous to the Alliance … and possibly her fellow shipmates on Serenity as well. When the Alliance sends one of their best men to catch River, Mal and Co. find themselves torn between protecting themselves, and fighting the good fight to bring the Man down and let the truth -- whatever it might be -- finally come out.

Review Like many Firefly fanatics, I came to the series long after it disappeared off TV, and was crushed when I reached the last disc of my DVD set only to discover that thanks to the series’ premature cancellation, I would never get to find out what happened to this team of space cowboys who I’d fallen madly, head over heels in love with in just fourteen too-short episodes. When talk started brewing of a potential Firefly movie, I was simultaneously thrilled at the idea of revisiting some of my favorite fictional characters ever, and petrified that the movie would fail to live up to the brilliance of the show. Much to my relief, all worries turned out to be for naught; Serenity perfectly showcases the witty dialogue, rich, quirky characters, cool aesthetic and intriguing storylines of the original show, and ends up being a very fun sci-fi adventure that would have been satisfying even if didn’t have the legacy of a much-loved TV show to back it up. (So even those poor souls who’ve never heard of Firefly will have a good time watching this.) The entire cast is all-around wonderful and charming in their roles, though the movie does end up having to relegate a few characters that were key in the series to background roles. While this is certainly a little disappointing to us fans, it works well in the context of the movie, allowing River’s character and story to form the compelling core of the film’s storyline, and giving us a delightfully kick-ass heroine to root for. In fact, several viewings later, there’s only one flaw I can really find in Serenity. See, at the end, when those credits start rolling, I inevitably find myself feeling a little sad as I think, That was so great… now give me more! In the end, as well-made and enjoyable a film as Serenity is, I still miss the show. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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