Movies: Serenity

Serenity – If you are not at all familiar with the short-lived television show Firefly which Fox mishandled and cancelled prematurely in their first season, then Serenity requires a little explanation to fully understand the shows back-story and character relationships.  Joss Whedon made a good attempt at quickly catching up the viewers on the back-story with the opening sequences of the movie.  For those of you who have not seen either the show or the movie, here is a quick summary.

In the future, the planet Earth can no longer sustain the human population.  The dominating societies remaining are the Western nations and China, resulting in a blending of the cultures and the languages together in the future.  Joss uses Chinese words in place of English when the discussion is “understood,” primarily when the actors are swearing or insulting others.  As the human population settles in a new solar system (on multiple planets), the new colonies are not what we would imagine future settlements to be like.  Many of these places are backward planets, resembling the Midwest during the dustbowl, with people riding around on horses and covered in dirt. Even the space ships are no-thrills, with small living quarters, shared common areas, and very little glitz and glamour. 

The inner, more developed planets grew in power and influence, uniting them into the “core planets” which leads to the development of the Alliance.  The outer planets felt as if they were being neglected and joined with other worlds as a resistance force known as the Independents.  A galactic battle broke out for many years, with the Independents being defeated, with their representative planets being folded into the Alliance.  One of the Independent soldiers, Malcolm Reynolds, seeks his own independence from the Alliance control by buying a transport ship (a Firefly class vessel) and takes to the skies, joined with one of his subordinates from the war Zoë.  He gradually builds a small crew, including Wash “the pilot” (who marries Zoë), Jayne Cobb “the muscle,” and Kaylee Frye “the mechanic.”  Additionally, he picks up a few passengers, primarily Inara Serra “the companion,” Shepherd Book, Dr. Simon Tam and his sister River “the psychic.”  River is the focus of attention by the Alliance due to her mental abilities . . . and the fact that her brother broke her out of an Alliance research facility.

Serenity picks up where Firefly ends, with Simon and River leaving the ship after heated words (again) between Simon and Malcolm.  Though going their separate ways, Malcolm and the Tam’s meet up in the same bar when a subliminal code is transmitted through the galactic television network, triggering a programmed mental switch in Rivers’ mind, causing her to attack everyone in the bar.  Simon is able to subdue her, but reports the brawl exposes the Tam’s and the crew to the Alliance, forcing them to get together again and flee the planet.  The Alliance pursues the group across the galaxy, leaving death and destruction in their wake.  Due to the subliminal trigger going off in Rivers’ mind, she begins to unlock hidden secrets implanted in her by the Alliance, exposing a mystery that has long plagued the outer planets . . . the Reavers.

Find out if the crew of the Serenity escapes the Alliance, and what the secret is about the Reavers.  The movie will keep you guessing through the end.  I give this movie an A.  Definitely worth watching.  If you can, I recommend watching the complete series of Firefly first if you truly want to understand the full scope of Serenity.

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