Ramblings from the Desert

The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. ~Benjamin Franklin

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Location: New Mexico

Author of the urban fantasy novel, The Music of Chaos, and the paranormal romance, The Canvas Thief.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Serenity



I'm not a Firefly fangirl.

All told, I think I've seen two and a half episodes. The show aired on Fridays (I think), back when I had a fulltime job and a semblance of a life. I liked what I saw, but never remembered to tune in next week. (Had I foreseen the vacuous wasteland of reality TV and CSI clones that lay ahead, I might have tuned in more.)

So I carried little bias into the theater. I expected it to be better than George Lucas's latest, bloated, box-office devouring epic. But that's setting the bar rather low.

Several hundred years in the future and man has, predictably, covered planet Earth like a resource hungry plague. Seeking opportunity, settlers have populated terra-formed planets in the far-flung reaches of the universe. This isn't the tidy, clean, utopia of Star Trek. The settlements are dusty and their inhabitants, hardscrabble pioneers. The settlements are governed by an oversized government entity (is there any other kind?) called the Alliance.

In keeping with the pioneers' spirit, the movie mates sci-fi with a western. Normally, I loathe westerns. (Fuck you, John Wayne.) But in this case, it works. Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the crew of the spaceship Serenity are privateers. If you dig pirates and outlaws, you'll dig Mal, an uber Han Solo.

Along with Mal's usual crew, are siblings River (Summer Glau) and Simon Tam (Sean Maher), fugitives from the Alliance. River is a super weapon packed in a cute girl and the Alliance wants her back.

Pursuit ensues.

Serenity has everything the Star Wars prequels don't: humor, good characterization, great dialogue and an intelligible plotline. There are, of course, space battles, explosions--explosions are good--and cannibals. Yep, cannibals. Reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon, Serenity the ship is a battered bucket of bolts that somehow out-twists the other ships in space.

And kick ass women! River is ferocious, but Zoe (Gina Torres), Mal's first mate, is my girl. Tough, capable and with a heart, she lays down the hurting and looks good doing it. Her relationship with nerdish pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), her husband, is charming and every geeky male's fantasy. (Hot, booty-kicking babe falling for the dork.)

The villain, the Operative, play deliciously by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is also the film's primary weakness. Amoral and elegant, he chews up scenery throughout most of the film, until he undergoes a bizarre personality transformation at the end. The movie also fails to explain some key questions about River.

Beneath the rollicking space opera are some deeper ideas, in particular humankind's relationship with its violent side. Take away our violent tendencies and will you get the shiny happy Star Trek world? Serenity offers one answer.

Even with my limited knowledge of the Firefly canon, I found the movie accessible. Serenity is a sci-fi movie with a soul. If the Star Wars movies are still hanging around like sludge in your brain's machinery, Serenity will be just the ticket to clear it out.

Writing...
Going to try and kick the Internet habit and drop out of sight tomorrow. Wasted too much time this weekend and I have a lot to do. See ya tomorrow, I mean Wednesday. [Slaps self up-side head.]

Pat K.

 

Graphics and Content Copyright © Patricia Kirby 2005