Thursday, October 06, 2005

“SERENITY” NOW!!!

By B.E. Earl

At the rate I have been posting lately, as opposed to Earl, we should probably change this site's name to Earlsblog.com. Anyhow, Earl has graced us with another review, this time for the new movie Serenity. Anyhow, take it away Earl....

Hey kids! It’s Earl again as Andy is apparently way too lazy/busy to contribute to his own site. I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts about the new film Serenity which opened up last weekend to so-so business here in the ‘ole U.S. of A. Serenity is a sequel, of sorts, of the late, great Fox television series “Firefly” created by Joss Whedon. Now one thing you have to know is that I am a late convert to the cult of Whedon, but a cultist nonetheless so I may not be the most objective kid in the sandbox. I’m actually not going to give you my review of the film (which I thought was fantastic), so hopefully my objectivity, or lack thereof, won’t come into play. No sir, my intent is to give you some background info on the television show so that you might be better prepared when you go see the film. AND YOU WILL GO SEE THE FILM! Sorry, got taken over by Satan there for a moment. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

The Setting

“Firefly” is set roughly 500 years in the future. The human race has moved on from the “Earth that was” or the planet that we currently call home. You see, our numbers had swelled so vastly that we needed to colonize other worlds and solar systems. The last remaining great economic powers of old Earth were the United States and China. Just about everyone speaks both English and Chinese, although it seems that they only slip into Chinese when yelling at each other or cursing (maybe to slip past the old Fox censors, eh?). The main governing body of the galaxy is the Alliance.

The Alliance runs the central planets in the system with a closed fist, but the outlying planets govern themselves mostly in a fairly straightforward metaphor for the United States during the time of the Old West. In fact, “Firefly” is as much of a Western as it is a piece of Science Fiction. The territories are hard places to live, but they do have a sense of independence from the Alliance. The Alliance doesn’t appear to be the obvious evil that the Empire was in Star Wars, however, there is something dodgy about it. So dodgy that a group of planets fought a war against the Alliance in order to guarantee their own independence. It didn’t work as the Alliance won, and the freedom fighters suffered enormous casualties.

The Ship

Serenity is not only the name of the film, it is also the name of the Firefly-class spaceship that many of the characters of the show and film call home. It’s a fairly cool-looking hunk o’ junk that is used mostly as a cargo ship by the crew, although it is that cargo that often gets them into trouble. You see, the crew of the Serenity works a bit outside of the law. They’ll handle smuggling jobs, illicit transport, and even outright robbery to make a living. We’ll talk about that in a bit. The boat (as they refer to Serenity) is also named after a famous battle in the previously mentioned war. It was the battle that finally broke the backs of the freedom fighters leading to an overwhelming victory by the Alliance.

The Crew

Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) – Mal is a former soldier with the losing side of the war with the Alliance. He, in fact, was one of the survivors of the battle of Serenity Valley along with his second-in-command, Zoe. Mal has got a lot of issues. He’s obviously not happy with the Alliance and he is constantly being tormented by his inner demons. His choice to turn to a life of smuggling is just another way of thumbing his nose at the oppressive Alliance. However, he appears to be a good man with a heard of gold, ding! He’s also quite in love with Inara, a prostitute who lives on one of the shuttles of the Serenity. Secretly, of course.

Zoe (Gina Torres) – Zoe, as previously mentioned, is a former soldier who followed Mal into a life of smuggling. She is the consummate warrior woman, clearly not someone whom you would want to mess with. She is unwaveringly loyal to Mal and she wears her leather outfit quite nicely, thank you.

Hoban “Wash” Washburn (Alan Tudyk) – Wash is the pilot of the Serenity, and the husband of Zoe. He’s mainly there for comic relief. We don’t know much about his past, but it doesn’t appear to matter that much. He wears Hawaiian shirts and has plastic dinosaurs about his console, and that is about as much as we need to know.

Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) – Kaylee is the resident mechanic on board the ship. She’s a bit of a spitfire whose mechanical skills appear to be more intuitive than learned through any formal education. She is the wide-eyed innocent of the crew, even while possessing a more-than healthy sexual appetite. Kaylee is fun.

Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) – Jayne is the muscle on the crew. Although he doesn’t really have a title, he was jokingly referred to as the public relations officer. He’s simple and downright mean, but you want to have him on your side in a firefight. He also has, on more than one occasion, shown an inclination towards turning on his fellow crewmembers, and he can be bribed to switch sides if the money is right.

Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) – Inara is a prostitute who rents out one of the two shuttles on board Serenity in a mutually beneficial agreement between Mal and her. You see, prostitutes are a bit different in this world then they are in ours. Companions, as they prefer to be called, are treated with incredible respect by the civilized worlds. They go through a tremendous amount of training to become a companion, and they are incredibly bright and knowledgeable in many areas. Having a resident companion on board is beneficial to crew for her contacts and the doors that those contacts can open. She also lends an air of respectability to the otherwise rag-tag group of travelers. She is also quite in love with Mal, secretly of course.

Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) – Damn it was nice to see Ron Glass working regularly again. The well-named Book is hard to read by his cover. He is a man of religion, but he has admitted that Book is not even his real name. His mysterious past has something to do with either a military, political or consular post within the Alliance. He is Mal’s conscience on the ship.

Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Mahar) – Simon and his sister, River, are fugitives from the Alliance. Simon came aboard Serenity with his sister as his cargo. He was eventually found out by Mal the rest of the crew, although Mal agreed to keep him and his sister on board as crew. Simon is a brilliant doctor who gave up a great career to save the life of his sister. He’s also kind of boring.

River Tam (Summer Glau) – River is a gifted teenager who was taken by the Alliance at a young age and manipulated into a tool that they could use for a number of reasons. She has some psychic abilities and she is quite the talented fighter. She is also an absolute mental mess. In whatever procedures the Alliance used to enhance her abilities, they also managed to strip out some of her brains ability to operate in a so-called normal manner. She is highly sought after by the Alliance because of her abilities and the secrets that she may have stumbled onto. Secrets that could hurt the Alliance at its very core.

Okay. Now you are ready to go out and see Serenity. It has been rumored that if this film grosses more than $80 million worldwide, there will be a sequel or two. Joss Whedon had apparently scripted out 5 seasons of “Firefly” and he still has stories to tell. So go see it. You don’t want me to use my Satan voice again, do you?

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