Well I've heard nothing about this film on this site, and very little in the ways of advertising, but that's a damn shame. Serenity is a Hollywood film without Hollywood. There's action, special effects, but no movie stars. There's also god forbid a bit of craft in there as well, and this comes from the mind of Joss Whedon.
Let's get the fundamentals taken care of first. Serenity is the continuation of Whedon's cancelled show Firefly (which ran for a whopping 14 episodes, 5 of which never aired). The lost world of DVD has saved the show, and it is in this incarnation that I was able to see it. My basic description of the show is think of the wild west with spaceships and a mix of politics. In fact the war of the Independents vs. the Alliance is very much the continuation of Western themes of the Civil War, and like most Western heroes, these heroes fought for the confederacy. Granted the motives behind the Independants are far from those of the Confederacy, nevertheless they fought a losing fight, that many of which will never forget.
The two weary war veterans are Mal and Zoe, the old buddies, who know each other like only veterans can. Zoe is the warrior princess, and Mal is the self destructive stubborn man who has an innate ability to do the right thing. He abides by one rule, on his ship, he's the captain, right or wrong you don't disagree. As we saw in the show and in the movie, he usually is right despite what his crew may temporarily think.
The show allowed the format for great character development, and unfortunately for the movie many of these characters don't get the appropriate spotlight that the show gave them. If you've seen Firefly then you shouldn't fear, but seeing the movie blindly will not give you adequate depth to really care about the people involved, with the possible exception of River.
River is the basic star of this vehicle. She was the wild card in the show. The Alliance trained weapon that only briefly showed glimpses of her ability. That ability is unleashed in the film and to quite entertaing results. We see exactly why she is such a valuable weapon to the Alliance, and how she eventually pulls her weight as a crew member of Serenity.
Writer/director/show creator Joss Whedon has a knack for good cinema. His musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a clear indicator if anything, and it is great to see his vision on a big screen. The crew of the Serenity is given their introduction through a brilliantly laid out tracking shot, which very intentionally ends on River. The shot is more elaborate than any single take from the show and deserves I think an honorable mention, it seems more complex than Jia Zhang-Ke's opening shot to the World, so if now you know what it's up against.
Watching the movie makes me miss the show however, and I highly doubt it's coming back, and due to the film's slight box office chances there may not be another film, and this is shame. There's a lot more fun that these characters can have and a lot more sexual chemistry waiting to be explored. I won't get too much into this, because I can probably talk for another 20,000 words.
The plot of the film though is laid out so that even if you are unfamiliar with the show you can follow what's going on, and certainly be entertained. So I'm gonna say SEE THIS MOVIE NOW. I'm damn amazed with it honestly, it exceeded all expectations I could have had for it, and don't be surprised to see it listed among my favorite films of the year.
and since everyone else likes to grade