Sunday, February 06, 2011

"Serenity" (2005) - Movie Classics

Having heard so much about the “Firefly” television series I immersed into it over couple of days. Here is quick history lesson on this cult following. This series like several forgotten good ones got cancelled after one season due to ratings I suppose. The people with sincere following began lot of buzz of this atrocity and tried several attempts to reinstate it without any success. Though they managed to create enough word of mouth publicity that Universal Studios green lit the film as the sequel to the series. While I did like the TV series which in itself has abundant of uniqueness in ambience and characterization, “Serenity” distinguishes as a much powerful, entertaining and a moving science fiction film.

Writer/Director Joss Whedon explains how we humans explored other solar systems with bunch of planets and moon due to necessity and making them inhabitable as we enter this world. The Alliance became the governing body providing central administration of the civilization. There was of course the opposition to this administration, the Independents. War between them resulted in a hard and tragic end for the Independents leaving them to fend in space and become scavengers. One such is Captain Malcolm Reynolds played with a timing brilliance and panache by Nathan Fillion. Mal has managed to fly high with his ship Serenity and other crew members.

As the series ended, it had Mal’s appetite for sexual tension Bonafide Companion (meaning high class call girl) Inara (Morena Baccarin) leaving the ship, a Shepherd Derrial Book (Ron Glass), pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), his warrior wife and second in command Zoe (Gina Torres), a rather moronic muscle Jane (Adam Baldwin), a skillful mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), her love interest and a doctor on a run from Alliance is Simon (Sean Maher) as he rescued his unpredictable and telepathic sister River (Summer Glau) from Alliance’s mind experiments over her. We are never really sure what caused River to be like this but we always know that she is nothing but trouble.

The film begins with the Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) an absolute delightful addition as the complex villain for Mal. Much like the mystical and dangerous bounty hunter Jubal Early (Richard Brooks) in the series finale, the Operative is philosophical and carries the role of a Samurai (with the obvious use of his sword as his prime weapon). Acceptance is such a beauty in human existence. Acceptance of oneself regardless of their nature is what makes a person at peace despite the horror and pain he or she may cause on others. The Operative is the man assigned by Alliance to find River and kill her. His character is highly successful in most parts in the film.

Despite a low budget the film has abundant great visuals. The titular ship gets a thorough make over in look and feel from the TV series. The first entry into the vessel through the cockpit and Mal walking through giving a short tour talking with the crew members puts a physical believability for this ship. Wash and Zoe are still married and Mal is still hiding his feelings for Inara and he is on for a job. Having provided home and hideaway for Simon and his sister, Mal takes River on a job in the lieu of getting aware of her psychic and ass kicking abilities. That job in itself is a high octane chase.

The film has many other spectacular chases, stunts and moments of surprise. It has all these futuristic people being so human and so unpredictable. The flair of Mal has been his impulse and the quick thinking in shooting people. Take the encounter he has with the Operative who comes with an utmost respect and truce to settle this capture of River. Mal being Mal does his thing and in the end it is so evident that the Operative can kill Mal without any hesitation and yet Mal survives. Of course Inara helps him but that makes us choose Mal to be our hero and develop a thorough respect for the Operative.

The Alliance though claimed as this authoritative administration has managed to run this civilization sans the carnal and blood seeking cannibals Reavers for most part peacefully. As with any political administration Mal is against them and having fought in the war the feeling is only obvious. At the end of the war he has given up any hold on remote sense of clinging on to a value and rides the space chaotically and as pure as a scavenger might. On the other hand is the Operative, quite smooth in his lethality and a firm believer in the intention of Alliance’s need to have a sin free world. The film never falters in distinguishing these two beings. Both are charming, elegant and capable.

I loved “Serenity” for several reasons. One for being the most entertaining science fiction film and second for having no reservation towards obligatory scenes. The love interests never hinders the movie and is there for a reason. The movie has some best lines. Especially a great one from the pilot Wash as he flies through the war zone. More than a good film “Serenity” is a memorable one as it ends. We earn for more. In spite of the TV series being a good show, I could not see how it cultivated such a fandom to follow. I think they would have felt something like what I felt in the end of “Serenity”, the need for this adventure to continue.

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