The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

My top 10 Movies of all time #2

Serenity
Directed By Joss Whedon

Let’s look at the facts. Joss Whedon had hit a creative goldmine with Buffy The Vampie Slayer and Angel. These 2 TV shows were ratigns smashes and changed the way we looked at prime time American TV. In 2001, he pitched a show about “9 different people looking into the void of space and seeing 9 different things” and made a Sci-fi TV series called Firefly. It was genius and one of the greatest shows ever (more on that some other time). However, the audience figures were low and the show was subsequently cancelled, c mass outrage amongst it’s few but dedicated fans (something that has just struck Whedon again this week with the cancellation of his latest show, Dollhouse). However they stayed strong,  and through DVD sales and fansites, they showed Whedon and executives that they wanted more. And that’s what Whedon did.

Serenity is the story of the crew of the Firefly class ship of the same name. Led by Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), they take on odd jobs, no matter how legal in order to make a living. However, things are complicated by 2 members of their crew, Simon and River Tam. The former being hunted by the Alliance (effectively the government) and the latter, after being experimented on by the alliance is showing some bizarre signs, Mainly beating up people in clubs and slashing Jayne, hwoever after she has a memory flash about a lost planet, the crew learn something that could change the universe…

The film is masterful in it’s storytelling. It balances an impressive, complex and compelling plot and manages to fit it in with the shows previous canon. I’m not sure how much of it makes sense without seeing the show, but it just works so well. Because of this, the writing is dynamite. Jayne and Wash bounce off each other with jokes and insults, the chemistry between Mal and Inara is kept in and there’s just a wonderful plot device with it.

Of course, it’s all bouncy and fun until someone gets hurt. The film isn’t afraid to take risks in shocking the big fans, the Alliance in their unstoppable hunt for the Tam’s, bomb a town with the innocent Sheperd Books in. If you follow the show, you know that he’s a character who never got involved with violence, always talked about peaceful methods and god and so when he dies, it’s one of the saddest pieces of film. The film’s final scenes are some of the best I’ve ever seen, reminding me of everything I love about genre cinema. In a mad dash to Mr Universe’s, Serenity is caught in a space battle between Reavers (kind of a weird zombie/scavenger race) and the Alliance, it looks incredible (for a film with quite a small budget) and inspiring and is very reminisicent of Star Wars, when they land, you feel yourself fist pumping joy that they made it, only for Wash to be killed right away, it’s such a blink and you miss it moment, it just feels…worse than Books death. From that point on, there’s an immediate smaller sense of hope, as Mal is engaged in a big fight in a generator room. The rest of the crew are locked in holding the fort against the reavers in a scene that is similar to the conclusion of so many zombie movies, you really feel like it could just end any second, with no hope.

And it’s that power, which is why I love the film so much, it’s very much a rollercoaster film and a definite must see Sci-fi film, hell I’d almost go so far to say it’s the best, if it wasn’t for…

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