Well, Serenity has been out for a week, and we still haven't seen it. All reports say it's excellent. We need to find a babysitter during a time we can see it. Many a movie has gone by without our seeing it for lack of someone to watch the kids, but this is one we really don't want to miss. For those unfamiliar with the Firefly show, this is a sequel to the sci-fi space western TV show that the studios inexplicably canceled just as it was proving how interesting it would be. It's the brainchild of Joss Whedon, best known for Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but he was also behind Titan A.E., Toy Story, and Alien Resurrection, and he got his start with a short stint as a writer on Roseanne fairly early in the show. He's also working on a Wonder Woman movie for 2007.
I can't pretend to like everything he's done. I never could get into Buffy beyond the first season, for instance, and I don't think I would have liked the spinoff at all. I do think Firefly is the best thing from him that I've ever seen, and I'm sure it would have turned into one of my favorite shows if it had really gotten into the main storyline that the movie ends up developing. We watched most of the show in a couple days once we got ahold of the DVDs from a friend. It's only 15 episodes, 3 of which never aired in the syndication run and are only now beginning to show in the SciFi Channel's complete run of the show in the proper order on Friday nights. In the original run, they wouldn't even show the pilot until the series had fully aired (what they were going to air of it, anyway). Whedon really got stiffed on this one, and now he's got his chance to win over the larger audience with the big screen. It seems to be working, since it was the #2 movie of its opening weekend, though it wasn't as much as the studio had been hoping for.
You can watch the first nine minutes of the film here, and that provides the background to the show for new viewers, and you can read reviews by a professional movie critic and scifi author Orson Scott Card for a sense of what's so good about this project, but I suggest just seeing the thing. I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope it does well this second weekend out, which is what it really needs to get the go-ahead for a sequel. It's a great combination of smart writing, both in terms of plot and dialogue, deliberately unusual directing, great action deliberately in the mold of Westerns, and a plausible account of what things might be like 500 years in the future. Earth has been left behind, and a new solar system has been terraformed, with a core of civilized and wealthy planets and a frontier of Wild West style worlds on the outskirts. Remnants of various earth cultures are scattered throughout, including Chinese outbursts now and then by average Joe sorts of characters, and the real story that's only somewhat developed in the short is a conspiracy theme with the Alliance government that seems to come full head in the movie. The show is funny and serious in a way that's very hard to pull off, and the comedy, action, and grand themes disguised by very human relationships will almost certainly all remain a focus on the big screen, but now we get more expensive special effects and what looks like a really cool development in one of the main characters that has been heavily anticipated in the show.