Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Sci-Fi Action Adventure
|1 hr. 59 min.
|Year of Release:
September 30, 2005 (wide)
|Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Ron Glass
The future is worth fighting for. / They aim to misbehave.
Yee Haw! Watching “Serenity” was definitely not serene! We all climbed aboard our galactic ponies and rode the vast winds of Serenity’s metaphorical universe. The three man, two women crew have to watch their backs as they crash through this post-war solar system divided among the cannibalistic Reavers and the ultra-oppressive Universal Alliance.
The Fox television show “Firefly” is reborn with it’s colorful characters intact. Repeating the Star Trek phenomenon, “Firefly” was cancelled before it completed an entire season, but “Firefly’s” demand after DVD release was so impressive that the movie, under the new banner “Serenity,” got the go-ahead. And it’s fans will not be disappointed.
Captain Malcolm Reynolds (a gruff yet endearing Nathan Fillion) intends to misbehave throughout the universe, as he and his crew of scavengers run along the fringes of the galaxy trading items acquired by questionable means, some might even say illegal. Captain and crew are the last holdouts from the great war against the Universal Alliance, whose ominous threat has no bounds. Making sure his crew/family of rouges survive through their unending escapades is his only desire, until Captain Mal takes on two new passengers.
Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his telepathic sister River Tam (Summer Glau), who happens to be The Alliance’s new secret weapon, join the unsuspecting crew under the ruse of getting a short hitchhike to another planet. Their presence on the ship puts the once unnoticed crew in the spotlight of the evil Universal Alliance and the insatiable appetite of the Reavers who will stop at nothing to recapture River for the Alliance, so they may use her powers to enable them to finally rule the entire Universe.
Being caught between saving his crew and the passengers is a threat to the Captain’s passion to stay hidden and unchallenged on the galaxy’s fringes. So much so, that he makes the undesirable, but needed decision to sacrifice a comrade (the “one to save the many” scenario), on one of their “runs” through the seedy yet lucrative underworld. Longtime crewmate and friend Zoe (Gina Torres) brings this to the Captain’s attention, which sets off within him dividing thoughts of guilty feelings over the loss of this man versus the need for all to survive.
River Tam is a traumatized 17 year old “Reader” who was captured and programmed by The Alliance to use her exceptional telepathic powers as a weapon of destruction and eventual complete rule for the Universal Alliance. Rescued by her loving older brother (who alone knows how to control her outbursts of violent madness with one word—the Safe Word) and brought aboard the starship Serenity to escape, supposedly unnoticed by the cunning and apparently all-knowing Alliance. Due to their presence onboard, River and Simon set into motion unparalleled violence and mayhem.
Desperate to survive and desperate to do what’s right. Capt. Mal and crew take on the most colossal battle of their lives against the Alliance’s top man, The Operative (an elegant yet menacing Chiwetel Heliodor) who’s refined demeanor oozes with brutal malice just below the surface. He truly believes the message of the Alliance to have “A better world, a world without sin.” but seems to be blind to the fact he is killing innocent millions as the cost. Why would a man who believes in making the universe a better, sinless place concede to use an army of half-men half-cannibals who eat people while they are yet still alive?
Butting heads with crewman Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) who wants nothing to do with the turbulent teen and her brother: “Don’t push and I won’t push you!” defies the Capt. by spouting off, but deep inside he is fiercely loyal. Ace pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk) is ruff and ready for adventure and madly in love with competent first mate Zoe, while engineer and mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is all heart and carrying a torch for Dr. Simon Tam. Captain Mal has his hands full keeping the peace within the Serenity as well as the Galaxy he finds himself defending to the bitter end.
This galactic western is violent and yet appealing, especially to the 4.4 million people who weekly watched “Firefly” before Fox canceled it in 2002, and for the hordes of fans who’ve made the DVD a bestseller. As we race along through scenes combined with violent confrontations and endearing camaraderie the comedic sarcasm becomes oddly entertaining, in the same vain as the crew of The Enterprise. “Serenity” and “Firefly” were both created in the mind of Joss Whedon, the man also responsible for TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Whedon has taken this motley band of scavengers in a post-war, post-Earth, universe with the solar system divided between the false promise of a sinless Universe and the renegade ideals of a few who proclaim, “If you can’t do something smart, do what’s right!” and made us like them, in spite of the choppy editing and sometimes unbalanced scenes which include bloody confrontations and jokes within the same dialogues.
Described as “Kicking #@%* in the 26th century” on the Web site, “Serenity” is rated PG-13 and contains suggestions of rape and prostitution, although younger teens and tweens will not get the references outright. Christian parents (who may have watched the TV series) must use good judgment before allowing teens to see this film as it may be offensive by virtue of it’s scenes of drinking, blood and gore, gun use, cannibalism, coinciding with scenes of graphic violence. Characters are injured and killed, including children.
Profanities were few, but do contain 3 he**, 1 da**, 1 bast**d, 1 a**, “to he** with this,” “you, son of a whore,” turd, monkey sh**, and the f-word once. Note, this is a film full of metaphors about many subjects such as sex, death, and what is right and wrong. To the adult they stick out like a sore thumb, to the young they will go right over their heads. Be cautious and try to attend this film with your younger teens in case they have questions. Families who see this movie should talk about the obligations and choices facing people who oppose a totalitarian state. The secular idea that having sex is the same as true love. How do you decide when to risk your life for the greater good and to save the lives of others?
And the action is terrific, a sci-fi space saga with the heart of a western. The main characters relate without a hint of anything less than total commitment. A few strengths of the movie is its portrayal of capable and brave women and minorities and loyal and dedicated relationships between people of different backgrounds and heritage. Sin is referred to as “Pride” by one character, God is mentioned as the ultimate choice to turn to for strength and comfort. The Captain’s character shows mercy and forgiveness, strength in following through with hard decisions and compassion for the abuse of others. Everyone is shown willing to give up their lives to save another, loyalty is forefront. Although sin is presented in some cases jokingly: it is asked of the Captain during a fight to the finish, “Do you know what your sin is, Mal?” To which the Captain answers (as he tries to kill the “bad guy”), “Right now, I’m gonna go with wrath!”
In the end the Captain explains to River the first rule of flying (to a fulfilling and complete life) is LOVE.
Sin is a running thread through “Serenity” and is dealt with in a worldly fashion, although it is a nod in the right direction, because we all must deal with sin and with what is ultimately right and wrong. Sin only makes our lives more difficult than they already are. Only God’s spirit can come to the rescue (sorry Captain Mal). “And when he [Holy Spirit] comes, he will convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” (John 16:8 NLT). This means that the Spirit teaches the difference between right and wrong, not any man.
By the impressions that He places upon our hearts, God has given us a spiritual “sense” about what sin is and what is not. A great gift to us, especially as we go through trials, because sin only makes our trials worse and takes us deeper into trouble. If we allow God’s spirit to act as our gauge for sin, we can avoid making sinful choices, finding ourselves on God’s path—which will ultimately take us through the trials of life.
Trials are inevitable in this life. It doesn’t matter who we are, what we have, or where we are, there will always be trials. Let’s ask the Spirit to convict us so that we hear only Him and will be able to allow Him to overcome those sins that would ensnare us. Allow The Spirit to lead us from glory to glory and victory to victory.
“And I will ask The Father, and He will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you” (John 14:16 NLT).
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
Comments from young people