DVD Review: Serenity (Collector's Edition)
By Jeff Swindoll Aug 23, 2007, 12:56 GMT
The crew of the Serenity is getting desperate. They have lain lower and lower to protect their doctor, Simon Tam, and his telepathic traumatized little sister, River, from the alliance, whom he rescued her from a year earlier. This has made getting jobs harder and now they are desperate. When they take River on a robbery during which Reavers (humans who have gone crazy and turned into cannibals) attack, Simon ...more
Serenity returns to DVD shelves and adds something old, something new, and something blue (probably the tears of fans that the movie didn’t lead to a series of them, this reviewer included).
Serenity is basically a space western. The Earth has become overpopulated and mankind has heard the clarion call of “go to outer space young man.” So the controlling government (The Alliance) is feared but the outer reaches of the galaxy are pretty lawless or have laws of their own.
If you know the show you’ll know that Firefly aired on the Fox network that was seemingly determined to kill the show. Firefly is the brainchild of Buffy’s Joss Whedon and was, in my opinion, and excellent show. It was full of excellent characters and actors. Fox in their (lack of) wisdom put the show in a bad time slot, decided to air the episodes out of order, and cancelled it before airing all of the episodes.
I guess they ended up making some money anyway because the show was a hit on DVD and seemed to pop up on many critics “brilliant but cancelled” lists. Obviously Universal saw the potential since they bankrolled this big screen continuation of the fine series.
However, it failed to light up the box office and other adventures of our erstwhile crew seem unlikely (those that survived the movie that is). However, this reviewer notes that Firefly/Serenity seemed to have their major success on DVD and if other studios can bankroll Lake Placid 2, etc. then why not a series of direct-to-DVD movies for our space travelers gorramit!
The film continues the adventures of Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew, couple Zoe (Gina Torres) and Wash (Alan Tudyk), mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Straite), and the man (mercenary) they call Jayne (Adam Baldwin, cue music here). Fellow crewmembers Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) are no longer on board, but they do make appearances in the film.
Passengers River (Summer Glau) and Simon (Sean Maher) Tam are still aboard. The Alliance is still after River since she was used in some unknown experiments and they’re anxious to get their prize guinea pig back. They hone in on her and send the mysterious Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to retrieve their prize. Now it’s up to Mal and company to keep her safe, avoid the Operative, and steer clear of the insane, cannibalistic Reavers.
It’s damn fine to see all of our friends on the screen again. Again I have to say that it’s equally disappointing that more box office success was not in store for the crew of the Firefly so their adventures could continue. The acting is top notch and everyone gets a chance to shine (Ron Glass and Morena Baccarin seem to get the short shrift in this department, but thank the Maker for deleted scenes sections).
Not everyone makes it to the end of the picture and the character deaths were shocking and jarring, especially if they were your favorites. Some questions from the show are answered but others are still cloaked in mystery (or just teased at – one of the dying characters you think will reveal more about their past but doesn’t. You’ll either think it brilliant on Joss’ part of just be annoyed.).
I can’t express my undying love enough for Firefly but have always wondered if the box office success had to do with a moviegoers lack of knowledge of the characters that we Browncoats got to know by watching the show on DVD. I still think both the show and the movie are brilliant.
Serenity is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. A two disc set was released in another region and some of the stuff from that set finally find their way to our shores (with one significant omission), but there is also some brand new material here.
Let’s start with the packaging – both discs are housed in a fold out system that gives the great packaging an expensive feel. Disc 1 contains the major new addition which is a March 2007 commentary with director Joss Whedon and actors Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, and Ron Glass. The disc also retains the wonderful solo commentary by Whedon that appeared on the first disc.
Next are 14 minutes of deleted scenes, with optional commentary by Whedon. Making the jump from the other region’s set are 4 extended scenes totaling about 6 minutes. Next are 6 minutes of outtakes that are quite funny for the fans. The “Joss Whedon Introduction” runs 4 minutes and played before some convention screenings. “We’ll have a Fruity Oaty Good Time!” is 90 seconds of Whedon talking about the titular commercial along with the full commercial. All three proceeding extras were on the first U.S. DVD release.
“Take a Walk on Serenity” runs 4 minutes and is a tour of the set, “The Green Conspiracy” is about cinematographer Jack Green, and both are those come from the other region’s set. Disc 2 starts off with the 19-minute “A Filmmakers Journey” which was found on the region release and is a making-of feature. The next three featurettes are from the first US release.
“Future History – the Story of Earth That Was” runs 4 minutes and is about the future universe that the film and television show take place in. “Re-Lighting the Firefly” runs 9 minutes and tells how the series made it to the big screen. “What’s in a Firefly?” runs 6 minutes and is about some of the effects sequences in the film. “Session 416” is new to this disc (and wasn’t on the others) and is 8 minutes of short clips that were used to market the film on the Internet.
They are mock therapy sessions with River Tam. “Sci-Fi Inside: Serenity” is also new (and wasn’t on the other discs) runs 21 minutes, is hosted by Adam Baldwin, and appears to have aired on the Sci-Fi Channel to promote the show.
For fans of the film that have the first disc there’s enough to warrant you purchasing this shiny new edition. If you own the other region’s disc then you might want to think about upgrading since there’s only really a new commentary and a few other new items. If you’re a dedicated Browncoat you buy all the stuff you see so it won’t matter to you. Serenity is an excellent film and a fine continuation of the series.
What’s disappointing is that once you reacquaint yourself with these characters you want to see them again and again. I hope the future of the ‘Verse holds more adventures for Mal and company but until then you can’t stop the signal emanating from your DVD player.