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PHOTOGRAPHY

SERENITY

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 119 minutes, audio commentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary, outtakes, three featurettes, Joss Whedon introduction

STUDIO: Universal

RELEASE DATE: 12-20-2005

FIREFLY is a short-lived series I loved to bits and I was very sad when it was went to graveyard of cancelled shows. I perked up when FIREFLY was reborn as the movie SERENITY. SERENITY is the type of film the last two STAR TREK films should have been like. The story and characters connect with me. This creation of writer/director Joss Whedon is better than BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or ANGEL. It is the type of movie that will stand up to repeat viewings if you liked or loved SERENITY. Forget the latest STAR WARS sequel, watch SERENITY at least once if you haven't discovered it yet.

Onto the film itself, the Reavers are just as scary as they are in the one brief moment they appear in the pilot of the FIREFLY series (the pilot is titled Serenity). I am sad when two of the characters from the show are killed off, but I do wish they had more screen time before they met their fates. The brief space battle is one of the coolest ones I have ever seen, but yet it is debateable whether Joss broke the no sounds in space rule that was in the FIREFLY series (because there is no sound in space). I do feel you will get more out of SERENITY if you're a FIREFLY fan. If SERENITY is your introduction to the crew of SERENITY, I have to say you should go check out the FIREFLY TV series (even if it means buying the DVD set).

SERENITY is the journey of two characters: Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathon Fillion) and River Tam (Summer Glau). Mal has seen so many terrible things when he fought against the Alliance in a Civil War years ago. His side (the Browncoats) lost the war and Mal (along with Zoe (Gina Torres), the First mate of the transport ship Serenity) fought in the Battle of Serenity Valley. He and his crew make a meager living doing whatever job that they pick up to survive. The crew of the ship includes Wash (Zoe's husband and pilot of Serenity), the money hungry and gun happy Jayne (Adam Baldwin), Kaylee (the ship's engineer), and two fugitives: Dr. Simon Tam and his fragile slightly psychotic sister River. Two former members of Serenity were Shepard Book and Inara (Moreena Baccarin)- a Companion.

Mal must do horrible things to get the mission done and save River (and his crew) from the very dangerous Alliance Operative that wants River even if it means killing everyone that the crew knows. River must come to terms with who she is and what terrible secret that unraveled her mind.

Even though SERENITY didn't light the box office on fire after a good opening weekend for a picture made on $40 million, I hope the DVD sells well and SERENITY continues in direct-to-DVD sequels.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Image detail is good, but the transfer does exhibit a little aliasing.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, French 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French (all extras except commentary have subtitles option)

Dialogue is clear, but the music and sound effects are on fire here. They have the right balance and effect for every scene in the movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A total of nine deleted scenes are on the DVD (about 15 minutes total) and I think at least some should have been left in the film (despite the reasons director Joss Whedon gives for cutting some of them). I understand the film needed a certain pacing, but I think it could have had more meat and still worked. Many Inara moments see the cutting room floor for example. The outtakes show the cast know how to swear when they screw up their lines. The Joss Whedon introduction (shown with the preview screenings) is also good. The audio commentary for the film with director Joss Whedon was definitely a commentary I loved listening to about twice. He provides loads of details on the production and post-production (editing, reshoots, etc) of the film.

Three featurettes are included on the DVD. they are short, but they are nice holdovers until a two disc special edition provides meatier extras.

FUTURE HISTORY: THE STORY OF EARTH THAT WAS- Joss Whedon talks about the universe of SERENITY.

WHAT'S IN A FIREFLY- The elements that went into the Mule chase and the various CGI effects of the film.

RE-LIGHTING THE FIREFLY- How the TV series FIREFLY went from cancelled series to the movie of SERENITY.

Don't forget to check out the Easter egg which you can access from the main menu.  It is a featurette on the Fruitty Tooty Bar commercial which is featured in one scene of the movie.   You won't be able to get the song for that out of your head.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  SERENITY is a very decent DVD release despite the cover art which could have been better a video transfer which could have looked a little better. Given how the R4 DVD release coming to Australia in Feb 2006, it shows there are more extras waiting to be unleashed on a two disc edition of SERENITY. Hopefully, Universal will release a special edition soon because you can't stop the signal or the crew of Serenity.

this DVD Review is (c)12-31-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com