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Serenity (2005)

by on 2012/05/07

“Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down.”

* * * *

All hail the Whedon.

You there – cower and tremble before the glory that is the Whedon. (You know who you are).

Just a short few months ago, I liked to imagine director, writer, comic book creator Joss Whedon as a fellow underdog. Sort of picked on, beloved only to an enlightened few. Most of the mainstream didn’t really get him, causing the powers that be to cancel incredible Whedon-crafted television shows like Dollhouse and Firefly.

Foolish, foolish powers that be.

Now, after his Mjölnir-pounding, Hulk-smashing victory at the box office with The Avengers (which was absolutely, world-crushingly outstanding), I imagine Mr. Whedon can now make all of Hollywood his bitch. I’ll bet everyone’s real, real sorry they weren’t nicer right about now.

(Yay, Joss).

To say Joss Whedon is important to me is somewhat of an understatement. I’ve said on this site before that his pioneering, sublime, brilliant Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series may have changed my life. In Buffy, Joss Whedon created a whole other language for me, characters that I cared deeply about, and reminded me that women could be strong and powerful when I needed that reminder the very most.

Serenity, and the Firefly TV series upon which this amazing movie is based, does that too. This sublime space western with a woman so strong she’s powerful enough to overthrow interplanetary governments is another in a stack of movies that I don’t only love, I need.

Serenity is the conclusion of the Firefly television series, a series that lasted only a criminally short time on Fox. This is a story of a motley crew of ex-soldiers fighting for freedom and hard coin in a repressive worlds-wide regime.

The captain of this crew is Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog). His rag-tag gang is made up of  brutish mercenary Jayne Cobb (played by Adam Baldwin), loyal soldier Zoe Washburne  (Gina Torres), genius (leaf on the wind) pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk) and sensualist grease monkey Kaywinnet Lee “Kaylee” Frye (Jewel Staite).

There’s a kind of magic in a Joss Whedon script. In only a few scenes, with only a few lines, he makes you care about the characters you are watching on the screen. Then he delivers an ass-kicking to some or all of those beloved characters that makes you ache for them.

At its heart, Serenity is a simple story. The ship Serenity is attempting to give safe passage to a couple of fugitives – River Tam (Summer Glau) and Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher). Mal needs the money and Dr. Tam, on the run from the government in power called the Alliance, is willing to pay.

Along the way, there’s a bank heist, government conspiracies, a dead planet, a race of cannibalistic space zombies and single-minded assassin called the Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

And Summer Glau is a deadly weapon with the grace of a ferocious ballerina. Love.

Sure, there are a few dark spots in this glittering star of the ‘Verse, including a line about batteries and nethers, but none of that can dim my love of this Joss Whedon creation.

And so I will end with a fabled line from the great and wonderful Whedon that makes me happy and fills me with hope (like so much of what he has created).

Q: So, why do you write these strong female characters?

Joss Whedon: “Because you are still asking me that question.”

* * * *

119 minutes

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references

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