Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nathan Fillion, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, David Krumholtz
Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references
Running Time: 119
Date: 08/22/2005

Serenity (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Space Cowboys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Joss Whedon wrote and directed this feature film based on his short-lived TV series "Firefly." A band of space cowboys roam the galaxy, living from job to job. Their way of life is seriously jeopardized when they learn that one of their passengers, River (Summer Glau), has actually been trained as a deadly weapon, and that a level-headed bad guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) will stop at nothing to get her.

Serenity isn't exactly what you'd call sci-fi based on ideas, but it is a delightful, infectious blend of pulp Westerns, Star Trek, Star Wars and even samurai films (the bad guy carries a sword). Whedon's language deliberately evokes the rawhide talk of the Old West, while imagining potential new slang ("shiny" is one exclamation) and other hybrids.

Captain Mal (Nathan Fillion) is a dedicated, deadpan goofball who immediately earns sympathy and trust, and his crew perfectly compliments him. Not since another cult TV show was adapted into a movie series (Star Trek) has sci-fi been so much fun (but with a hint of darkness).

The rest of the excellent cast includes Gina Torres as Zoe, Alan Tudyk as Wash, stunning Morena Baccarin as Inara, Adam Baldwin (My Bodyguard) as Jayne, Jewel Staite as the charmingly childlike Kaylee, Sean Maher as the fusspot doctor Simon, Ron Glass as Shepherd Book and David Krumholtz as Mr. Universe.

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