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 Firefly DVD Review

Title: Firefly
Classification: 15
Director: Joss Whedon
Runtime: 600 Minutes



Ever had a friend rave on about how good a film/game/book is, then watched/played/read it yourself and thought “What’s all the fuss about?” That’s what I initially thought when I was urged to watch a small budget sci-fi film called Serenity. I read a few reviews about it before I went to the cinema, Total Film described it as Star Wars: The Western, with the most charismatic Spaceship captain since a certain Mr Solo and his wonderful Millennium Falcon blazed onto our screens. I didn’t quite believe what I was reading and went to my local cinema with very little expectation, it couldn’t be that good, could it?

It was, as it happened. From the start I was thrust into the most finely crafted universe since George Lucas put pen to paper for Star Wars. The characters were well-rounded with snappy dialogue and equally fine performances from the unknown cast. In short, I was hooked!

So when I heard that the TV series that preceded Serenity was soon to be released on DVD I just had to get it. The characters I loved from the film were all present and correct and it was great to see their personalities and relationships given more room to breathe over the series; the slower pace gave them greater depth than could be afforded in a 90 minute film. It was also cool to see more of the worlds hinted at in the film, most of which resemble the kind of back-water towns you expect to see in a Sergio Leone western.

So what is Firefly all about? Well, it follows the lives of a crew of intergalactic smugglers/profiteers headed by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a former Sergeant who fought against the Alliance in the galactic war of Independence. He is joined by Zoe, who fought with him at the Battle of Serenity (which the Ship is named after); Zoe’s husband, and the Ship’s pilot ‘Wash’; young female mechanic Kaylee; Inara, who is a companion (Futuristic prostitute) and Jayne, the muscle of the group who has a taste for large guns. In the pilot episode, Mal also picks up ‘Shepherd’ Booke (a reverend of sorts), Simon Tam, a rich doctor, and his sister, River, whose mysterious past makes up a large part of the movie. The series creator, Joss Whedon, also refers to Serenity as the tenth character, and you’ll see why when you watch it.

For those of you who have seen Whedon’s previous works, including, amongst others, Buffy and Angel, will know he has a talent for sharp dialogue but Firefly really shows off his talent for characterisation too. You will soon get to know each of the main characters personalities pretty quickly and the dynamics that play out between them are fantastic. There are some great story arcs involving River’s past and some will-they-won’t-they romances between Mal and Inara and Simon and Kaylee that develop nicely throughout the series and beyond. The individual back-stories are well explored with more than a few surprises cropping up along the way.

The stories are wide and varied enough to incorporate all the main characters without feeling stretched. It’s quite hard to pick a standout episode as they are all of the highest quality, my personal favourites include Mal defending a Companion house from local marauders and an episode where the crew encounter a town with a statue of Jayne. As they go from planet to planet mysterious agents acting on behalf of the Galactic Alliance pursue them, trying to capture River.

It’s hard not to say anymore about the stories and characters, I certainly don’t want to spoil anything for you as it’s satisfying sitting back and getting to know them as the series goes on, it’s just a shame it wasn’t given a longer run in the schedules. It was originally shown on the FOX network in America but pulled after only 11 episodes (14 had been completed) due to lower than expected ratings and the cost of production, which, due to the special effects used, was pretty high. The series is in stasis at the moment as Whedon waits for another channel to buy the rights (he refuses to work with FOX ever again) so he can continue his work. He has hinted, however, that any future series set in the Firefly universe may not actually be focused on the crew of Serenity which would be a shame, but the Universe is big enough for many other tales to be told.

The DVD features some good extras, maybe not as much as I’d hoped, but the Audio Commentaries are great, with some real insight by Whedon and some of the cast members. There is also a specially made mini-feature dedicated to the ship, as well as a gag-reel, deleted scenes and other Easter eggs to sate your appetite once you’ve finished the series.

I cannot recommend Firefly enough, if, like me you’ve seen Serenity and thought “I liked that, I wonder what the series is like” stop reading, go to your nearest DVD shop and buy it. Simple as that. Luckily it can be found in places like HMV for under twenty quid and will be one of the best decisions of your life, everyone I’ve shown it to has loved it and you will too. If enough people buy it, watch it, and then spread the word maybe someone somewhere will see sense and buy the rights so we can at least get another trip with Serenity, there has never been a TV series more deserving.

Score:

Buy Firefly DVD Review now at Play.com
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