On Friday night, my girlfriend and her friend dragged me out to see Serenity; the movie version of Firefly, a short lived sci-fi TV show that aired for part of a season back in 2002.
Written and Directed by Joss Whedon, Serenity is a sort of cowboys in outer space action movie, except with zombies.
It follows the dysfunctional crew of outlaws who cruise through space smuggling and stealing ever since they found themselves on the losing side of a civil war with the authoritarian Alliance.
Serenity is the name of the ship they cruise around in, a sort of Millennium Falcon for the new generation that?s always threatening to either explode or fall out of the sky.
Needless to say, I had reservations.
It?s been a few years since I saw Star Trek: Nemesis, and after that debacle, I would be happy if I never saw another sci-fi TV show turned movie again.
Moreover, since TV show was prematurely cancelled, and diehard fans and DVD sales had brought it back from the brink, I wasn?t looking forward to braving the fanatics on opening night.
I?ve heard unconfirmed reports of diehards buying multiple copies of the DVD set either for themselves or as gifts for friends, hoping to inflate overall sales.
As it turns out, my girlfriend was one such fan, although, I assure you, much unbeknownst to me when we started dating.
Before seeing the movie, she sat me down and had me watch a few episodes, and I?ll admit, the show had promise; it really is a shame it was cancelled, but c?est la vie.
For anyone who doesn?t know Whedon (who wrote and directed the original TV series) was also the creative mind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel.
And say what you will about those two shows, the episodes that Whedon actually wrote (as opposed to the ones he farmed out to other writers) are also pretty good.
As it turns out, Serenity is better than decent.
It has several major problems; Serenity?s plot runs a bit thin in parts, for example.
However, Whedon?s genius is not for his plotlines.
In Firefly, for example, he creates different dialects for each of his characters, depending on their lineage, vocation, and which planet they were born on.
Mal, the captain of Serenity, speaks in a fusion of bluegrass twang, and mandarin.
Another character, Simon Tam, who grew up on a more sophisticated planet, speaks with perfect grammar and diction.
In both cases, the character creation is complete. Everything they do, everything they say, and even the way they carry themselves is coloured by their character.
Unlike in so many other movies, I never found myself saying, ?That doesn?t fit with his character,? for anyone.
At the same time, Whedon has a penchant for one-liners, and while I usually resent the cheapness and superficiality of one-liners, he makes them work.
For that reason, the dialogue is always worth listening to, and you sometimes find yourself questioning whether it?s really a sci-fi movie you?re watching, as opposed to a comedy.
Hardcore fans will probably quibble over technical details, and complain about the necessary exposition that makes the film accessible to regular moviegoers ? this much I know, because my girlfriend was making such comments as we walked out of the theatre.
However, I think in the end this will satisfy both mainstream audiences and diehard fans alike.
Moreover, the movie takes things up a notch from the TV show.
Without spoiling anything, not everyone makes it out alive, including some of the people who lived through the whole TV show.
If for nothing else, check it out for the space-zombies.
Never heard of that one before? Yeah, they?re space-zombies and they?re pretty crazy.
I think they call them Reavers, but they?ll always be space-zombies to me.