Lucky is the guy who gets a second crack at something. Takashi Shimizu got to remake his own film Ju-On: The Grudge as The Grudge, and now Joss Whedon gets to remake the short-lived television series Firefly as Serenity. Firefly was Whedon coming off the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. It was something unique; a science fiction show that played like a Western. It was quickly cancelled. Rabid fans blamed a bad time slot and FOX's decision to air episodes out of order, but the real reason was it was just not that compelling. In fact, Firefly was downright boring at times. Something was wrong, since Whedon reportedly had to go back and reshoot a good chunk of the pilot. But phenomenal DVD sales persuaded the execs at Universal Pictures to green light a movie, and here comes Serenity.

The premise is the same. Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion, Water's Edge, Outing Riley) and his rag-tag crew of his ship the Serenity fly through space, surviving by picking up transport jobs or plain petty crime. The universe of Serenity is recovering from a devastating war. The Alliance is the main governmental body; it is large and bureaucratic. On the other side are the Reavers, bands of reputed cannibals (or, refugees from the old Mad Max movies). Whedon isn't doing anything that people would not expect of him. The same witty banter is there, as is an ample amount of ambition that comes into play in story that keeps increasing in scope.

There are a few problems still. Whedon's (Titan A.E., Alien: Resurrection) takes a while to get going. The first part of the film is a bit dull. There are a few too many characters. This results in many being there for no real purpose. Sure, Reynolds has a crew, but are any of them memorable? The biggest downer is Fillion and the Reynolds character. Reynolds speaks a bit archaically; like one would imagine somebody speaking in the Old West. Unfortunately, he's the only person that does it. Worse, Fillion is not that great of an actor, making these lines sound bad at times. When he tries to get a serious look on his face, it's almost enough to get audiences laughing.

Why is Reynolds in such a tizzy? He is low on funds, and Serenity is falling apart. Most of his crew is loyal, but there are some that strongly disagree with him. He is still stewing after driving Inara (Morena Baccarin, Roger Dodger, Way Off Broadway), a "companion," off the ship. They have a love/hate relationship. The largest points of contention are Simon (Sean Maher) and his sister River Tam (Summer Glau, Sleepover). Simon wants passage for him and his sister, and in return serves as the ship's doctor. A quick prologue reveals that Simon rescued his daughter from gruesome experiments by the Alliance. She is typically in a daze, but the Alliance sends an Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Four Brothers, Melinda and Melinda), after her. Once the plot kicks into high gear, things improve. The snarky comments fit better, and the actors have a bit more to do, but Serenity could stand to lose about fifteen minutes.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references.

Back to Movies