monthly fandom

#3: Serenity

It could be argued that this movie doesn’t fit February’s theme, since Firefly, the show that leads up to it, does indeed have a fandom–and a very vocal one at that. But even though I am a proud member of that fandom, I didn’t think I would be able to fill a whole month with stuff about a show that lasted only one season. So consider this post Aldy’s tribute to the blaze of glory that was Firefly.

serenity

Serenity
Released: 2005
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Summer Glau…etc.

Plot Summary:
Well, it doesn’t make much sense if you haven’t seen Firefly, so I would strongly encourage newcomers to start with the show. But it basically goes like this – the smuggling ship Serenity is carrying two fugitives from the Alliance, a mentally traumatized child prodigy named River and her brother Simon. A determined assassin is stalking them, but after River has a breakdown and half-kills a whole bar full of men, Captain Mal and the rest of his crew have to decide if she’s worth protecting. As the pursuit heats up, some dark secrets from River’s past come out, and the band of misfits end up facing down the full might of the Alliance.

Memorable Quote:
There are too many to pick just one. The dialogue is the single best thing about this movie.

“We have a little problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence, and then explode.”
“Shiny. Let’s be bad guys.”
“Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket…”
“She is starting to damage my calm!”
“I aim to misbehave.”
“I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.”
“She’s torn up plenty, but she’ll fly true.”

serenity town

Why I Love It:
Cancelling Firefly after one season was a crime against art. The world of this story, and the characters who inhabit it, are more creative and well-written than 90 percent of what happens on TV, and if it had been allowed to continue, it could have become the best American sci-fi show since Star Trek. But at least Serenity managed to tie up some loose ends and provide a decent amount of closure to the story.

Like I said, my favourite thing about this movie is the dialogue. The wordplay, the Western dialects, the Chinese swearing–it’s all so much fun that I could be entertained by a Firefly episode even if the characters did nothing but talk.

But the dialogue is just a small part of the brilliant world created for this show (and movie). Serenity takes place about 3000 years in the future, after humans have all left Earth to colonize a faraway solar system. The wealthier planets, controlled by a hybrid Chinese-American government, form the Alliance, while the poorer Independents settle the outer planets with their own primitive resources. The result is a wonderful Wild West-meets-Star Wars, East-meets-West mashup. In one scene from Serenity, Mal and company rob a bank in what looks like a classic 1800s mining town, and then, after a high-speed chase on hovercrafts, get back on their ship and fly off into space. This is the only fictional universe I know of (outside of Doctor Who) where scenes like that can make perfect sense.

serenity crew

The characters are the other reason to watch this movie. They’re all well-rounded, relatable, and therefore very complex. This isn’t a straightforward “good guys vs. bad guys” movie, because the people we’re rooting for do a lot of bad things, and the villains aren’t totally evil (the most important villain in this movie is even humble and selfless). But we still root for the Serenity crew because they’re willing to stand up for the underdogs, and they’ll do anything to protect each other despite their many differences. Mal is the leader and arguably the hero of the story, but I also love Kaylee for her constant cheerfulness, Simon for his awkwardness, Jayne for being such a ridiculous macho man, River for being totally weird and freaky but still saving the day, and Wash for–well, everything. Wash is just the best.

The only problem I have with this movie is that it killed my favourite character. But in a way that’s probably a good thing, because it kept Serenity from being pure escapist fantasy. It wouldn’t be plausible if everyone came out of that last battle alive, and this story has no expendable characters. And it still had a pretty happy ending–or at least as close to one as Joss Whedon ever gets.

Whew – long post, sorry. Bottom line: Firefly is awesome, and Serenity was an awesome way to end it. If you haven’t experienced either yet, get on Netflix and prepare to have your mind blown. Namarie!

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