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on October 17, 2016
Five star reviews are pretty rare for me. In the case of Serenity, I believe a rating this high is warranted. Serenity was the highly anticipated conclusion of that compelling and woefully short lived Space Western series known as Firefly, and this review assumes the reader has seen that glorious single season.
I had heard that serenity "resolves" the plot of Firefly. While I'd say that is essentially true: yes, this film generally does that, but also raises the ante by introducing a new concept. In fact, Serenity goes further than just about any other sci-fi series conclusion I am aware of. It seeks to challenge and penetrate the vapid conception forwarded by almost all science fiction: "Hey kids, there is a utopia out there, and all we need now is just the correct formulation of fascistic progressive statism to finally realize it."
Firefly had its plot issues, and I could tear it apart as well as the pickiest reviewer. Regardless, I'd give that series a 4.6 of 5 stars. Why? Because this series challenged any number classical limits imposed by the genre. How fast does the ship travel? Never addressed. Where is Earth? Blissfully ignored. But beyond the standard fare, perhaps the strongest virtue Firefly had was the fact that the viewer's intelligence was never insulted. It was bold and direct and a little dry in disregard of the conventional sci-fi viewer contract. Serenity takes that concept of trust in the consumer and multiplies an already sharp point.
Core Plot Concerns:
Who are the Reavers? Solved.
What chance do rebellious privateers possibly have against an ever encroaching federal state? Solved.
More info about the formation of the Alliance? Partially Solved.
Will the young doctor (Simon) and his hot little engineer crush (Kaylee) figure it out? Solved.
Can Mal and Inara ever increase the level of passive aggressive flirtation to something even halfway worthy of either character? Solved.
What would it take to finally quiet River's fragmented and severed mind? Solved in a "TV" form of believable.
Will Jayne ever become a "real boy" and someone we find tolerable? Solved.
What happens with Wash and Zoe? Solved in a haunting way.
Shepherd Book, what's his story? Solved enough. (Whatever his former life entailed, in the end, the writers trusted the viewer to realize that it changed him into a far more powerful kind of person.)
And one new concept:
What happens when the most perfectly written, delightfully sinister "federal" enforcer (arguably, of all time) bumps into this ugly thing called personal freedom and independence? Solved.
Battle strategy:
Twists worthy of a micro version of BSG and the TNG movies.
Hand to Hand combat:
Riveting in the typical way required these days to close out any screenplay.
In summary, the movie Serenity does the task justice of wrapping up almost every conceivable loose end left by the short-lived Firefly series. It is a must-see for any fan or even semi-fan. The only drawback is that it doesn't quite do justice to the colorful universe created by Joss Whedon and Co. in the series... but how could any two-hour movie ever hope to do so? This show was cancelled far too soon - so say we all. It will be missed sorely and us browncoats will be eternally dreaming of a reboot.
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on October 9, 2015
I wasn't as obsessed with the TV series like everyone else was, but holy hell, this movie was fantastic. I thought Firefly was solid, but Serenity is like the series finale people wish they got. I can't remember a movie that got me so involved after coming off of a so little TV show. I gasped, got choked up, and even uttered "holy sh*t" at a certain point, but at the same time it captures the essence of the original TV series while having plenty of laughs & memorable moments. I'm so glad I was able to this in the theater, but I don't know why I was the only one who clapped when the movie ended. It was the perfect ending for the Firefly series.

These type of Steelbook cases usually go for higher prices, but luckily I was able to buy this without costing me an arm or a leg. The Blu-ray quality looks and sounds brilliant and comes with a lot of special features, including the Gag Reel which I love so much. A great release for a great film.
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on March 10, 2016
The Serenity [Blu-ray] was a wonderful purchase. Serenity was a very good movie that followed up and completed the Firefly television series. The DVD Blueray is very good with good special features. It is an excellent add to my movie collection.

Though the series only ran for a short time for less than one season, Firefly created a very large fan base of Browncoats. That following has been growing and growing throughout the years. Firefly was great science fiction based on the future of human civilization having to move out into space and the struggles that humanity endured trying to survive which included war with the established government and the result of life after war. The western-style life that many worlds lived was a very good comparison to how it was venturing into the new frontier in the US during the 1800's. The two largest super powers of our current time, the United States and China, are relevant in some way and influenced to some degree how the future developed with daily life, the struggle of surviving while interacting with space travel and technology. Very much like a space western, but not really exactly.

The special features on this DVD Bluray include:
Alliance Database
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Joss Whedon
Outtakes
Future History - The Story of Earth That Was
What's In A Firefly
Re-Lighting The Firefly
Joss Whedon Introduction
Extended Scenes
Take A Walk On Serenity
A Filmmaker's Journey
The Green Clan
Session 416
Feature Commentery with Writer / Director Joss Whedon
Feature Commentary with Writer / Director Joss Whedon & Cast Members Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau and Ron Glass
U-Control: Mr. Universe's Compendium
U-Control: Digital Tour of Serenity
U-Control: Picture in Picture
U-Control: Visual Commentary with Writer/Director Joss Whedon & Cast
BD-Live: My Scenes Sharing

I definitely recommend his DVD Bluray of Serenity. It comes in the standard blue color hard case. It is priced fairly good on Amazon. if you have Amazon Prime, the 2-day Free shipping is very nice.
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on August 8, 2015
If I had to choose only one sci-fi series for the rest of my life this would be it! Great writing, casting, and character development! I could not imagine a different actor playing any of the roles other than those cast. Always wanted to see more of whoever didn't happen to be in the scene at the time. I absolutely am bonkers over the mix of the western feel and tech advanced society so masterfully portrayed in this series. Very Well Done! And I could listen to the theme music all day! Everything is perfect.....except.....one season only. Oh...this is about the movie. Same goes for it. Watch the full season and finish off with the gourmet dessert of the movie. You will not be disappointed.
By the way this isn't actually a five star movie. It's definitely a 10. Come on Amazon.
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Despite a lack of box office success at the time of its initial release, SERENITY has gone on to be a consistently strong seller on the DVD market. Much like the DVD of FIREFLY, it never topped the Best Seller lists (except at Amazon.com and other on line sellers), but like the series box set it has continued to sell to both old and new fans, gradually building an audience. I'm aware that some people feel that the film is not intelligible without having seen the series first. I saw the series several times before seeing the film in the theater, so I am unable to address this. I will say that my sister and one of her sons saw the film on DVD and loved it. They then got the FIREFLY set and became big fans of the series as well. My point is that not everyone finds the film hard to follow if they haven't seen the series, but I do believe that the film is best viewed as a wrap up of FIREFLY.

In a way, Joss Whedon has broken a promise. This is a good thing. At the time of the initial DVD release he stated that there would not be a later DVD release. This was in response to complaints that Universal (a studio I have warm feelings for because their logo comes up every time I pop my BATTLESTAR GALACTICA DVDs into my player) is fairly notorious for double-dipping, i.e., releasing a DVD and then a few months later releasing an expanded version of the DVD, perhaps to release an even more expanded or "director's cut" version a few months after that. Many studios engage in this practice, but Universal seems to be the worst of the bunch. But this release comes largely as the result of fan requests. There actually was a two-disc version of SERENITY released in Australia (which I took the effort to track down on eBay, though I can only watch it on my computer using AnyDVD to get past the regional coding) with a different set of extra features available on this new release. I'm delighted that SERENITY is finally getting the 2-disc treatment in the US as well. Fans of the TV show never got all the FIREFLY that we wanted so each additional exposure to Mal and his crew is like water to someone dying of thirst.

FIREFLY/SERENITY will, I believe, be viewed as critical, along with BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, in redefining film and TV Sci-fi. The two shows (and I do think of SERENITY as the final act of FIREFLY) established a new aesthetic for Sci-fi by bringing a new sense of realism along with a rejection of what could be called Magic Science for plot resolution. By Magic Science I am thinking of all those situations in a host of movies and TV episodes (STARGATE SG-1 specialized in this) where a very imaginative physics is utilized to get the heroes out of a dangerous situation. Our heroes might be caught in a time warp that can only be overcome by reversing the polarity of the warp drive engines, or, uh, something. Neither FIREFLY nor BSG engage in such shenanigans. Their solutions to problems always seem very much like the kind of solutions that we would utilize. In other words, both shows eschew scientific gimmicks. The two also refuse to employ that old stock in trade, the alien. There simply are no aliens on either FIREFLY or BSG. The Reavers are very much a human creation, as are the Cylons. Furthermore, both strive for more realistic visuals. Although SERENITY employs more traditional film techniques (thanks to highly regarded cinematographer Jack Green), both these series largely used hand held cameras (especially BSG, which uses exclusively high def video). FIREFLY pioneered the technique, later employed magnificently by BSG, of employing "zoom" in CGI shots. In both shows one will see a spaceship and then the "camera" (which doesn't exist) zooms in, going briefly out of focus while the visual field is adjusted, for a closer look. Not surprisingly, the special effects outfit that originated this for FIREFLY, Zoic, later provided special effects for BSG. (In fact, they couldn't resist putting Serenity into the BSG Miniseries. If you watch the first scene in Caprica City, where the camera first looks up through a skylight and then lowers down into what turns out to be the office of Laura Roslin's doctor, Serenity can be seen as the only ship going from right to left.) And both shows introduced retro elements to provide a unique look. FIREFLY is influenced by a 19th century Old West look in clothing and weaponry, along with a number of Oriental elements, while BSG often uses design from the forties and fifties (e.g., the phones on the show were taken from a WW II submarine). In the past, new Sci-fi TV series set in space basically had to define themselves against the aesthetic of the Star Trek shows. In the future, they are going to define themselves against the recreation of Sci-fi brought about by FIREFLY and BSG.

FIREFLY and SERENITY, as well as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL, can in many ways be viewed as a product of Third Wave feminism. (Anyone doubting the centrality of feminism in everything that Whedon does--and if you doubt it you simply haven't been paying attention--should go to Youtube.com and search "joss whedon equality now speech" and listen to the speech he gave following an award they gave him.) While TV Sci-fi has long been a means for representing nontraditional roles for women, Whedon has been instrumental in taking this to the next level. Buffy Summers was created specifically to be a feminist cultural icon and there is no question that Whedon succeeded. She might not fit the ideal criteria set forward by Second Wave feminism (or, rather, the caricature of the Second Wave feminism--contrary to the stereotype, most of the major Second Wave feminists wore make up and bras, liked men while hating patriarchy, and were heterosexual), but by Third Wave practice (which is generally viewed as more pro-sex, less PC, more experimental, brasher, and less concerned with victimization than with self-assertion) she is perfect. Whedon loves empowered women. While comics have long had female super heroes, until the nineties there were shockingly few genuine female heroes on TV or in movies. We never thought twice about Batman or Superman or Rambo, but we had to wait a long time to see a strong female hero like Ellen Ripley in film and even longer for Dana Scully, Xena, and Buffy on TV. Why were only men allowed to be fantasy heroes? Some seem to find Buffy objectionable without noting that there never has been a super soldier like Rambo. Following Buffy (who seems to have been the influence on future heroic women, rather than Xena) came a host of empowered women. So it is no surprise that in SERENITY we find that Mal Reynolds's second in command is the tough-as-nails and stoic Zoe, who is just as hardened and combat ready as any of the men. Despite decades of films showing women collapsing at the death of men close to them, we aren't surprised when Zoe postpones mourning the death of her husband. There will be time to cry later, right now there is fighting to be done. And River Tam is one of Whedon's most compelling heroines. River's fight is not just against external monsters, but also against the attempt that has been made to turn her into a monster. A genius and child prodigy, River had been programmed and engineered to becoming an assassin, but was freed by her brother Simon. At the heart of SERENITY is the question whether River will become the killing machine they intended her to be or will she become a person. As Mal asks her, "Are you just a weapon?"

One of the things I love about Joss Whedon is how he continually defies our expectations. He does this marvelously with The Operator, played magnificently by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Working for the powers that be, he sees himself as a good man doing difficult but good things. SERENITY is about the monsters that society creates by the elevation of corporate interests above human interests (yeah, it is a Marxist theme, but any close watcher of BUFFY will recall the famous shot from the end of "Ann," the Season Three premiere, where after Buffy liberates workers from a demon factory, where the workers are literally worked to death, she stands with a hammer and a sickle in her hands). The Operator learns that he has unwittingly helps support powers that have created monsters, whether River or the Reavers. His redemption at the end is classic Whedon.

I don't know what the long-term future of SERENITY will be. It does not completely stand on its own like BLADE RUNNER or THE MATRIX. It will forever be tied to FIREFLY. But I believe that this should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness. Knowing the series lends this film a depth lacking in other series. For instance, knowing that Jayne isn't the trustworthiest soul helps understand some of his actions in the film (not to mention knowing he has a remarkably large collection of T-shirts). Or Kaylee's ongoing attraction to Simon and his odd reluctance to open up to her. Or the long, complicated relationship between Mal and Inara (the greatest tragedy of the film is that their relationship, which was incredibly important for the series, received short shrift--Whedon has promised that if there is a sequel to the film, which at present looks unlikely, that this will be rectified). Or what Shepherd Book's background is. All of which is to say that FIREFLY/SERENITY is unique and wonderful. Along with BSG, this series and film completely renewed my interest in TV Sci-fi.
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I watched Serenity after watching the entire 14-episode Firefly series. I came in knowing the characters and had become invested in them. Seeing this in a film format blew away the TV series in all aspects. Part of me wonders if I would've felt the same if I had watched this without knowledge of the TV series.

On its own, Serenity works as a more sci-fi adventure with less of the western feel of the show. This was good as I think not everyone is too into westerns, and is probably why the show was canceled (it was good, but not enough people thought it was). The story is about the same group of rebels from Firefly. They come across a person hiding a secret. They go across the galaxy trying to uncover what this secret is, with the military chasing them and killing anyone that gets in their way.

What's on the screen is exactly what Firefly could've been if it had been given the support needed to succeed. The story is similar to other Joss Whedon shows with his strong female characters. It's a smart, action-packed, sci-fi, mystery film.

This collectible Steelbook comes with better cover art than past versions of Serenity. It's part of Universal Studios' Steelbooks with comic book panel artwork. Included are a Blu-ray disc, DVD, and the digital code gets you two versions: an Ultraviolet copy, and an iTunes copy.

Serenity is a great movie, and this is a snazzy Steelbook to add to your movie library. Recommended.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon November 17, 2012
The movie begins with a narration: "Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terraformed, a process taking decades, to support human life. To be new Earths. The central planets formed The Alliance, ruled by an interplanetary parliament. The Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened, and refused Alliance control. [At about here, you realize that this is sounding too much like a political ad, or maybe indoctrination. Then, sure enough, you see the speaker, a teacher standing in front of her young charges. She continues:]
The war was devastating. But the Alliance's victory over the Independents insured a safer universe. And now, everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of true civilization."

One of the students is the young River Tam. She tells the teacher why the Independents would have rebelled: "We meddle ... People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do. What to think. Don't run. Don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right."

It's not just the plot and acting of "Serenity" that are excellent. It is the way the story is told; how it unfolds. First the disembodied voice, which turns into the teacher, which turns into a memory of the now 17 year-old River the subject of terrible experiments, which turns into an archive video being watched by The Operative. And this all happens before the opening credits!

The archive video is of Simon Tam rescuing his little sister, River, from the Alliance laboratory. And now the two are on the run from the Alliance, aboard the Serenity, a Firefly class transport ship. Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds was a Brown Coat, an Independent squashed by the Alliance. Now he's trying to make a living smuggling and salvaging, on the ship he named after the Plains of Serenity, the last great battle of the failed war of independence.

It is a hard way to make a living. As Mal tells the unhappy Simon, "I put this crew together with the promise of work, which the Alliance makes harder every year. Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to ship about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here's us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me and I won't push you."

The themes of "Serenity" are universal, sometimes troubling. The dialogue is snappy. The humor is great and frequently campy. Our first view of the ship Serenity shows it in trouble. The pilot says, "This landing is going to get pretty interesting."
The Captain looks at him: "Define interesting."
Pilot: "Oh God Oh God, we're all going to die?"

I saw "Serenity" in the movie theater before we even knew of the prequel TV series, "Firefly". Now, we have both for home viewing, and I strongly recommend watching the TV series first, if possible. The movie does stand alone and gives you sufficient background. But the experience will be richer if you have seen the TV series first.
DVD: Firefly: The Complete Series
Blu-ray: Firefly: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]

BONUS EXTRAS on the Serenity [Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy]:
To access the digital copy of the movie, you need to download from a Universal Studios site, using the activation code included. The info sheet in the Blu-ray case states it "may not be valid after 12/31/12". It can be watched on an iPad, iPhone, Mac or PC.
"U-Control" refers to Universal Studios' HD/Blu-ray interactive format where the viewer uses the remote to access special items.
1. Visual Commentary (U-Control on Blu-Ray). Watch the movie with picture-in-picture of Joss Whedon (director) and cast members watching and commenting on the movie.
2. Additional picture-in-picture (U-Control on Blu-Ray). Interviews, rehearsal footage and behind-the-scene footage.
3. Digital Tour of Serenity (U-Control on Blu-Ray)
4. Mr. Universe's Compendium (U-Control on Blu-Ray) This is background and added information on organizations, weaponry and people in the Serenity universe.
5. Alliance Database (Blu-ray)
6. Commentary by writer/director Joss Whedon (DVD) I enjoyed re-watching the movie with Whedon's commentary. Joss talks about needing a villain. "Somebody who would believe so strongly in what he was doing, that he would do anything. The exact opposite, of course, of the hero. In casting Chiwetel Ejidfor, we found the perfect person because he brings such depth and soulfulness and regret to everything he does."
Whedon says that he likes to cast comedians in drama roles. Comedy, he says, "is the hard one." If the actor can do comedy, then they can do drama.
7. Deleted Scenes (17 minutes) Interesting - one deleted scene showed the Operative researching Mal. He finds out that the Battle of Serenity had a 68% casualty rate for the Independents. Soldiers like Mal kept fighting for 2 weeks after the generals surrendered.
8. Outtakes (6 minutes)
9. "Future History: The Story of Earth That Was" (10 minutes) Joss Whedon tells how he came up with this version of the future, which is supposed to be 500 years from now. For example, there are two universal languages used, English and Chinese. In Joss's imagined future, these two superpowers merged when Earth set out to colonize.
It's also interesting how he "chose" his hero: "I just wanted to tell a story about people who are living in space, but not living in grandeur. And not living in great portent, but were more the fringe people. People that the Enterprise would have blown right past and never noticed."
And the hero's background: "There's very little American fiction about the people who won the [Civil] war, about the North. The people we all like to be identified with, we're all interested in, is the South, because we love losers."
10. "What's in a Firefly" (10 minutes) Fascinating look at how they worked scenes, such as the mule skip chase scene after the beginning bank robbery. Both CG and visual effects people explain how it was done.
11. "Re-lighting the Firefly" (25 minutes, from 2005) The story of how Joss Whedon and others pulled together a film to tell the story that was left unfinished in the prematurely cancelled TV series. Commentators include Whedon and most of the "Firefly" cast. The most memorable moment was the San Diego ComicCon, after the show's cancellation and before the movie was finished. On the last half of the last day of the convention, 5,000 people showed up to see Josh and the cast.
12. Joss Whedon Introdution (6 minutes) This is Whedon's introduction to a draft of the movie (not the final cut).

Excellent, excellent film. The perfect example of the Space Cowboy movie!

Happy Reader
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on December 12, 2014
Best SI-FI based on tv series ever. I mean that whole heartedly. Again, due to the shorter reviewing nowadays, I can not begin to impart the emotional response this short, low budget, series and this subsequent movie Serenity had on me. The acting was phenomenal to a point that it nullified any sense of "cheap production". I will not name names, again a waste of reviewing space; the whole cast played excellently. I read that the whole cast spent time together in the lounge set of the serenity instead of being in their own trailers. Well, it shows. Actual footage of the cast cutting up between shots was carefully placed in the movie and series...brilliant editing and directing. The series will be a cult hit. Si-fi fans for the coming decades will watch this movie (which was a great stand alone) will make fans smile as they remember, and cry because their can't be a "second season"...not really. The magic was created, given to us, and ran its triumphant but tragic course. I think that is why Serenity is so special. In real life triumph does not come without sacrifice. For the characters that gave their all in the end, I will miss them terribly, again and again as I watch firefly and Serenity at least once a year for as long as I live.
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Like Sheldon Cooper on the TV series The Big Bang Theory, I regretted the cancellation of the Firefly series in 2002. Happily though, three years later the film Serenity provided a very entertaining and satisfying ending to the story. Serenity could be viewed as a standalone film, but it's especially enjoyable for those who watched the TV series and were left hanging when it was canceled.

Thankfully the fine cast of the TV series was reunited for the film, including Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds, the captain of the Serenity, a Firefly-class space transport ship in the 26th century; and Gina Torres as Zoe Washburne, his second-in-command. It's a fast-paced, action-filled film that does justice to the TV series.
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on March 2, 2016
We loved this movie so much we bought TWO - one for us and one for some family members back in California.

Serenity is a movie based on the Firefly tv series that Fox canceled after just thirteen episodes were filmed. The movie changes some of the details introduced in the series, mainly the rescue of River, but other than that has all of the familiar faces - Joss Whedon's "black hats."

The story is absolutely stunning and full of plot twists. For me, the Firefly series and its movie remain one of my favorite storylines ever. Cowboys in space? Who would have thought!?

Excellent story, excellent dialogue, and characters you will absolutely love or absolutely love to hate.

I'd give it 20 stars!
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