Serenity: The BD DVD

Browncoats rejoice! The most anticipated movie of the year becomes the biggest DVD of the year on December 20!!!

I certainly rejoiced when I managed to snag an advance screener copy for review (thanks Universal!). Not in any way the final version, this copy doesn't have things like a menu and the bonus features came on a separate DVD, so I cannot say how the video and sound quality will be in the final release. Judging from other Universal DVDs I have though, I'm sure it will be shiny.

If you don't know, Serenity is the continuation of the story begun in the too soon cancelled series Firefly. From the mind of Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), the series didn't really take off until it hit DVD and became a best seller very quickly. Quickly enough to spark interest in a feature film with Universal giving the go ahead to it (and a possible 2 sequels yet to be determined).

Serenity is a Firefly-class cargo ship belonging to Capt. Malcom Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) best described as a more down and dirty version of Han Solo from Star Wars. Mal was a Sergeant in the war against the Alliance, an empire-esque government that wants to control all the planets terra formed to house the population of Earth-that-was after it was used up. The Independents (aka Browncoats) were defeated, but some, like Mal and his war buddy and right had Zoe (Gina Torres) try to live outside the control of the Alliance flying free and taking what jobs they can - not all of them totally on the up and up.

The series Firefly introduced us to the assorted group of interesting characters that call Serenity home including Zoe's husband Wash (Alan Tudyk), the mercenary Jayne (Adam Baldwin) and the engine monkey Kaylee (Jewel Straite). Taking place about 6 months after the end of the series, Serenity the movie shows us how Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepard Book (Ron Glass) have left the ship but still remain friends with the crew.

The movie focuses on fugitives River and Simon Tam (Summer Glau and Sean Maher), brother and siter, who were introduced in the series. River was the subject of government experimentation to turn her into a weapon. Simon gave up his career as a doctor to rescue River. We finally find out more about what the Alliance was up to as River leads the crew of Serenity to a planet called Miranda they don't want anyone to know about.

Oh, did I mention the Reavers? Cannibalistic mauranders at the edge of space, they are the most feared boogeymen of the 'verse. Again introduced in the series, they play a more pivotal role in the motion picture.

If all this doesn't stir your interest in seeing Serenity, I don't know what will! It's a real adventure of a movie with narrow escapes, great effects, and an often hand-held in the action camera style that makes you feel like you are there. Then there is Joss Whedon's masterful dialog - fans of Buffy know of his way to turn a phrase and he's definitely perfected it with Firefly.

But the core of Serenity (and Firefly) is the characters. Totally interesting, well-rounded individuals that you quickly come to care about. You may not always agree with them, but you always care about them. Nothing adds to the action more than characters you care about - ones you don't want to see die. And in Joss Whedon's worlds, no characters are safe - anyone can die.

The bonus features included are just icing on the cake - extended and deleted scenes, outtakes (as always, too few of them in my opinion), an intro by writer/director Joss Whedon, and 3 featurettes: Future History: The Story of Earth that Was, What's in a Firefly, and Re-Lighting the Firely, all well worth the watching.

Other reviews I've seen have compared Serenity to the original Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) but in my opinion, Serenity is much better. This is a DVD no science fiction collection should be without and here's to hoping a sequel will be in the works very soon!

Review by Lori A. Brown. Photos (c) Universal Studios - used with permission.

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