Pillbox

Unforunate victims of box office failure

It?s a damn shame that Serenity hasn?t broken even at the box office yet. While this summer was a relatively disappointing one in theatres, movies with originality still did relatively well. Last weekend, when Serenity opened, it was pitted against the Jodie Foster airline thriller Flightplan and only made $10 million ? a paltry sum for an epic sci-fi adventure from an acclaimed writer and director.

Joss Whedon has birthed some of the most popular television shows in the past decade ? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off, Angel, and the cult hit Firefly. Unfortunately, the Fox network canceled Firefly in 2002 after not quite one full season; but after it sold extremely well on DVD, Universal picked up the rights to make a film based
on the series. Whedon signed on as the writer and director and the entire original cast of the show returned for the movie ? a move that was sure to please fans
everywhere.

But the movie isn?t just for the fans; Whedon?s storytelling skill has made Serenity a film that?s enjoyable even when it stands purely on its own. Sure, if you haven?t watched the show you?ll miss out on a few of the finer points of the plot, but the movie is self-contained enough that it?s not necessary at all.

The story of the Firefly universe has a fairly generic
setup. Five hundred years into the future, humankind has
expanded throughout the galaxy, and the expansion
has led to civil unrest in the outer planets. The outliers haven?t advanced as much as the rest of the galaxy and are stuck in a state of living that is very much similar to the Wild West ? except with spaceships. The Alliance, which controls the civilized, advanced, inner colonies, is constantly at odds with the splintered factions of the Independents, the people fighting for autonomy in the outer colonies.

Mal (Nathan Fillion), the captain of the title spacecraft fought for the Independents when the dispute was a full civil war; however, the Alliance has since won, and now Mal has to make ends meet as a ship for hire. He and his crew are slowly turning down the path of taking more and more illegal jobs just to stay afloat. Nevertheless, his crew has stayed at his side through thick and thin, despite all of their flaws.
The story of the movie follows the Alliance?s efforts to take one of Mal?s crew captive ? the young psychic girl named River (Summer Glau) who subconsciously knows secrets that could threaten the Alliance?s regime. The crew of the Serenity has to stay one step ahead of the Alliance?s best assassin, a man who simply goes by the nickname ?The Operative,? to uncover the secret and save River?s life.

If you like science fiction at all, you really should already be in line to see this movie. It?s got a compelling story, interesting characters, and surprisingly awesome effects. The Firefly universe has a gritty aesthetic feel that is very unique, and it ends up working extremely well on the big screen. There?s a great balance of action, drama, and comedy that keeps the pace running fast, and it all comes together to make a sci-fi epic that?s way more enjoyable than the most recent Star Wars movie. The space battle near the climax of the movie is much easier to take in than the convoluted battles that George Lucas has grown accustomed to using, and that simplicity makes it a great deal more entertaining. As an added bonus, seeing the waif-like Glau take down every single guy in a bar in one of the more elaborate fight scenes is a treat on its own.

It?s a miracle that this movie was made at all ? Fox?s canceled shows tend to rot away in obscurity no matter how good they were. Firefly, though, was destined for something bigger. And the big screen is as big as it gets.