Trying to do my part to push up its opening weekend grosses, I played hooky on Friday and went to a matinee of Serenity. It's been a while since I had this much fun at the movies. I enjoyed it so much I decided to wait a couple days before posting a review, thinking perhaps that I was just bedazzled by all the outer space coolness and the ZING! and the BOOM!, as has been known to happen. But no, a couple days' reflection confirms for me that it's a very strong film, and I'll probably try and catch it one more time in the theater. I'm pretty confident it would be enjoyed by someone who has never seen Firefly, though the experience will be much, much richer for anyone who has watched the series.
Let me get this out of the way: The dude falling on the sword at the beginning? That was messed up. That got a couple of "Daaaaaaaamn!"s out of me.
The action and the special effects are well done without being showy, but the strength of the film is the characters. All of them are played slightly darker than in the TV series, and it really works. Nathan Fillion is a great if somewhat unconventional leading man, and I would pay good money to watch Morena Baccarin fold laundry, but the true revelation of the cast for me remains Adam Baldwin as Jayne. I've been a fan of Baldwin's ever since 1980's My Bodyguard, his first film, but to my knowledge this is the first role in which he's ever steered this close to comedy, unless you count Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket, which maybe you could. Jayne, like Buffy's Xander, because he's the dimmest of the group, seems to get the best punchlines. In addition to being just outright funny and well-timed, they relieve the self-conscious, occasionally annoying (though occasionally sublime) cleverness of Joss Whedon's dialogue.
I'll leave it to others to make too much of the film's lite conservative-libertarian message regarding the imperfectability of human nature and the value of jes' lettin' people be. Me, I enjoyed the stuff getting blowed up real good. I was, however, mildly disappointed that Vera didn't make an appearance.
One question: The Reavers. They're crazy insane feral outer space cannibals, yet lucid enough to maintain spacecraft? Okay.