So, among various and sundry other fun times had this weekend, I made a special effort to go see Serenity. I liked it alot, and my wife loved it, but it truly felt more like a series finale for Firefly than a standalone movie. That’s not to say that casual fans unfamiliar with Firefly won’t enjoy it–they will. It’s just that Firefly was an ensemble piece that had gone out of its way to create complicated relationships between the characters, and you can’t do all of that justice in a two-hour movie and still spin out an epic action plot. The result is a very good movie that follows up what could have been a very great television show.
That the movie accomplished as much as it did plot-wise without alienating either group of fans is a testament to Joss Whedon’s writing skills. Unfortunately, those who hadn’t watched the series will not appreciate the whole emotional weight of the film (Firefly fans be warned, there are some seriously heartbreaking events in this movie). Joss was a servant of two masters here, and I suspect fear of not understanding the film is why fans stayed away, and Serenity only grossed $10.1 million dollars in its opening weekend. Those numbers likely won’t justify a sequel, for reasons that sci-fi writer John Scalzi sums up better than I could. That’s a shame, because Joss clearly worked to pare down the cast and get the story to a place that could better accomodate movie sequels.
In the end, my heart hopes this was not the end of the Serenity franchise, but my brain tells me I said my last goodbye to some beloved characters. If so, I can only say that they showed great promise, and went before their time.