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Serenity Review Part 3: Final Thoughts on the Movie and TV Series
Despite some lapses that made me wonder if the same crew was doing the writing, they are on a par with Star Wars and Star Trek.
In Part 2 of my review last week, we talked about the events of the film Serenity (2005) and the impact of the deaths of two major characters during the movie. This time, we’ll finish the review of the film, and I will give my thoughts on the story as a whole.
After Wash’s death, the crew finds a hallway in which to make their last stand against the Reavers while Malcolm Reynolds goes to meet with Mr. Universe so he can relay a transmission from one of the last survivors of the planet Miranda. But Mal finds Mr. Universe dead in his chamber, with his equipment destroyed. Thankfully, Mr. Universe had a robot wife through which Mal hears the Mr. Universes’ last words.
He tells Mal that there is a backup control room which he is confident the Alliance did not find. Mal goes to this control room, but it turns out, the Operative has survived the space battle. After hearing the robot wife’s recording, he meets Mal in the control room where the two have a final fight.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Serenity’s crew, having retreated into the hallway, attempt to close the doors. But the doors jam and Simon is shot in the stomach. This prompts River to unleash her fighting capabilities and she confronts the Reavers to save the crew:
In the end, both Mal and River win their battles, and the last transmission from Miranda is sent to the entire galaxy. The Operative, upon seeing Miranda’s horrifying final message, decides to spare the crew and even tends to their wounds. Everyone, even Simon, survives, and he and Kaylee — finally — end up together. The last scene of the film is between River and Mal, where Mal refers to River as an albatross, which according to ancient lore is a sign of good luck.
I’ve already made it clear that I love this story — but which is better, the series or the film? It depends on how you measure it. If one connects the film with the series, it’s reasonable to conclude that the end of Serenity left a great deal wanting. But if you take the film as its own thing, I think Serenity is better by far. Very little screen time is given to most of the characters, but despite this, one becomes connected to them almost instantly. The actors’ chemistry is more than apparent; everyone gives a solid performance.
And it was the movie that attracted me to Firefly’s world. If I’m being honest, had I seen the series first, I would not have liked that world as much. Firefly was a show that was trying to figure itself out, as is typical with any series on network television. It needed another couple seasons to really come into its own. Had it been given such time, I have no doubt it would have hit its stride. But I’d also like to point out that when Firefly was canceled, it was the ire of the fans which really gave it its iconic status.
People saw the potential. But often, what people imagine far exceeds what really would’ve been. And something even better happened. Thanks to the movie, the story actually ended, and it ended without becoming a parody of itself. How many series have we seen where the story starts out strong then becomes a goofy shadow of its former glory? The most recent British remake of Sherlock Holmes anyone?
The show had the privilege of ending on a high note, and this is a very rare thing in television and films. Perhaps, its undeserved cancelation was for the best. Now, we must hope that the Mouse doesn’t get his crumby paws on the series and ruin the story. Hopefully, the actors will be smart enough to reject such a project.
I believe people love Firefly because they imagine what might have been. But, given what was aired, the show had problems. The writing was often all over the place. The moments that were good were amazing; the moments that were bad were so awful it was hard to imagine the same people were working on the series. And yet, the actors were superb and I have no complaints against them. As for the “rules” of the science fiction world they inhabited, they were mostly consistent, save for Episode 5, where I think somebody must’ve hit their head.
But it is the movie that wraps the whole thing up, and despite its flaws, Joss Whedon accomplished something truly difficult. He managed to conclude a series, while still making the final film coherent enough to attract new fans — me for one. That’s commendable and impressive.