Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Universal Home Entertainment
Release date: December 30, 2008
Now, I will admit right off the bat, that I love Joss Whedon’s work, and I realize that he is a creator that some people love, and other people hate, and it’s hard to find people in the middle. Me, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning, I love his comic book work, and I’m eagerly awaiting the start of his new show Dollhouse. So, yeah, my opinion may be a little biased, but I’m man enough to point out the good and bad points of his work. So, if you’re not a fan of Whedon’s work, what can I say to convince you that this movie is worth your time, and if you are a fan of his work, what can I say to convince you to buy this movie for what may be a THIRD time?
If you don’t know the plot of Serenity by now, you’ve clearly been living in a Sci-Fi deprived cave for the last 5 years, but I’ll re-cap for you anyway. The movie picks up from where the television series Firefly left off; we find the crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity doing what they do best: taking any job they can to make ends meet. The crew, led by Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), is generally on the run from the Alliance, mostly thanks to two passengers on the ship, Simon (Sean Maher) and River Tam (Summer Glau). River was a government test subject and has been turned into a powerful psychic and a one woman fighting force of extraordinary magnitude. Now the Alliance has sent an Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to kill River because of all the secrets she may hold in her head. What follows is a story of loss and the power of beliefs, told in the way that only Joss Whedon can.
And there in lies the biggest problem with this film: it’s a Joss Whedon movie. Now, that can be good news or bad news, depending on who you are. If you’re a fan of the way that Whedon writes his characters, then you will love this. It’s written with his style of humor and sometimes cheesy dialogue, but he understands these characters, and gives great moments to all the characters, which is saying something with a cast this size. Even if you’re not a fan of Whedon’s style of writing, I have to say that you should give this film a shot. It’s got a ton of great action sequences, a fun and interesting story, and a cast that brings some great performances to the table. It’s a good Sci-Fi movie, is what I’m trying to tell you, and there’s not enough good Sci-Fi these days, so we take it where we can get it.
The bonus features are basically the same as what you would get on the Special Edition DVD release from a few years ago (the second DVD edition) so that’s a bit of a disappointment, but the extras are pretty decent. Tons of features with interviews of the cast and crew, a nifty “Alliance Database” that gives background information on the characters and world of Serenity, a decent amount of deleted and extended scenes, and some funny outtakes, which I always enjoy. Aside from all that, you get two commentaries, one with Whedon by himself (and he does great commentaries) and then one with Whedon and some of the cast (which can be watched picture-in-picture style on the Blu-ray). Both commentaries are worth a listen, as Whedon does a great job of talking about what went on with the creation of the movie, and you really get the feeling that the cast had a good time making the film. Finally, you get some Blu-ray specific options, like the ability to save scenes and play them back later, more picture-in-picture fun with interviews, rehearsals, and other things to watch during the movie, a walk through of the titular space ship, and more information on the universe of the film.
The big question with any Blu-ray release is “Is this worth buying again?” Well, if you’ve got the big HD set-up, this is worth picking up. The sound and picture are what you would expect, and it’s a good movie to show off your system. If you’re a die hard Whedonite with a Blu-ray player, then I don’t have to tell you to pick this up; you probably already have. If you like the movie and have the original DVD release, but not the special edition, there’s enough new material here to warrant a purchase. If you’re not a big Whedon fan, or if you already own the special edition DVD, you know what? Maybe spend your money on a movie you don’t own already. There are plenty of movies to pick up that you don’t already own, so spend it on something new. Me, I’m just hoping for the Firefly Blu-ray set to make its way under my Christmas tree.