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Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG (for violence)

Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Barry Mendel
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk
Studio: Universal Pictures

I first saw Joss Whedon's Serenity due to the constant nagging of a self-proclaimed Browncoat. Hang on, I'm getting ahead of myself. Serenity is based on a short-lived FOX sci-fi series called Firefly, a series that was unjustly mistreated and ultimately cancelled after being on the air for a short while. The premise of the series was just fantastic. The Earth as we now know it has become uninhabitable and mankind has migrated out into the galaxy to establish colonies on newly-discovered planets. The shifty Anglo-Sino Alliance (comprised of America and China, natch) rules the 'verse through their oppressive dictatorship after a great civil war. The rebels fighting for independence in the galaxy are the Browncoats and they aren't coming along so well.

Serenity begins some time after the war, where we find Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) leading a crude old cargo hauler called the Serenity, accompanied by a very diverse crew including the tough and cunning Zoe (Gina Torres) and the witty, hilarious pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk). New to his crew are doctor Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his dangerously unstable psychic sister River (Summer Glau), who are viciously being pursued by the cold, menacing, and nameless Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has been sent by the Alliance to do away with the Tams.

The fans of the series/film appropriately label themselves Browncoats and I first saw this fantastic movie thanks to the constant raving and nagging of self-proclaimed Browncoat AJ Wiley, who labels this his all-time favorite. Thanks a lot, man. I love it. Writer/director Whedon's screenplay is smart and witty and features characters with more layers than those in Star Wars ever had. Serenity was very cheaply made for a film of this kind (a surprisingly small $40 million), but that doesn't hinder the visuals or special effects. Whedon's direction proves not only that he has an extremely creative imagination, but also that he really knows what he's doing behind the camera. I hope to see more from him in the near future.

Star Wars is great and all, but the performances leave something to be desired. That's not the case here, however. Everyone in the cast does a spectacular job and this is one of the few times that I mean every single person involved. Nathan Fillion makes his Cap'n Mal a wise leader and Chiwetel Ejiofor, as AJ has repeatedly said, somehow makes his villainous Operative a sympathetic character. I've seen several new science fiction movies recently and, aside from Revenge of the Sith, Serenity is your best bet. Just remember to avoid the Fruity Oaty Bars.

Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau in Joss Whedon's beloved Serenity.
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