Film Review: “Serenity” (2005)


Poster for the 2005 film “Serenity”

I’d heard of the television show Firefly for some time, so when I got the chance to rent the entire series from my local public library a number of years ago, I jumped at the chance. Needless to say, it was magnificent, a sort of science fiction meets western theme, with sinister, bloated government conspiracy thrown in. Joss Whedon not only created a (rather short-lived) legend, but unwittingly presented the world with an anthem for the libertarian party (which is very much what Whedon isn’t).

Firefly, we hardly knew ye.

Yesterday, again at the public library, I happened to chance upon the “epilogue” of the too soon canceled classic, Serenity (2005), and no, not the 2019 film currently in theaters by the same name which I have no intention of seeing.

[Yes, I know this violates the credo of the pundits at the much vaunted File 770, at least as applied to award-winning science fiction writer Robert Silverberg, that you shouldn’t sample SF/F that’s older than ten years, but so be it.]

It was wonderful and heartbreaking. I knew that actor Ron Glass, who played Shepherd Book, passed away in 2016, but watching his character die on the small screen was horrific. However, I absolutely didn’t see Wash’s (Alan Tudyk) death coming (Tudyk is still alive) which was even worse. After that, I was afraid that everyone else who lived on Serenity was going to die as well.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (“The Martian,” “Doctor Strange”) played the primary “villain” known only as “The Operative” and was predictably terrific. There were characters I didn’t recall from the show such as Mr. Universe” (David Krumholtz), but that didn’t take away from the adventure.

If I have one criticism of this two-hour film, it’s that loose plot threads seemed to get tied up a little too quickly. I’m sure if the show had continued on television, the pacing would have been better, but Whedon had one shot at pulling everything together, especially the secret of River (Summer Glau), so he had to hurry.

Besides Book and Wash, everyone does survive, but not always in the best of shape. Mal (Nathan Fillion) took some damage, both physically and emotionally, but they all made it, repaired Serenity, and took off for further adventures we’ll never see.

I’d forgotten how attached I’d become to the characters, Zoë (Gina Torres), Inara (Morena Baccarin), Kaylee (Jewel Staite), Simon (Sean Maher), and even the really annoying Jayne (Adam Baldwin). It was like saying good-bye forever to old friends. Sure, I could watch the series and this movie again, but what’s the point? Yes, I’d enjoy it, but it’s still gone. I know there are comic books and a video game, but it’s sort of like the passing of Star Trek. You can exploit the heck out of a franchise, but at some point the exploitations stop being the story, the ship, and the characters. The life and the heart just isn’t there anymore.

So long, Serenity. You can’t take the sky from me.

7 thoughts on “Film Review: “Serenity” (2005)

  1. It’s one of my favorite films, though time has soured me somewhat. Wash’s death particularly was bullshit. Book died taking down forces of the Operative, saving the lives of the Serenity crew.

    Wash died through totally random coincidence. His death meant nothing and accomplished nothing and was completely unnecessary. It was a load of crap.


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