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The Vault: Serenity (2005)

"Now think real hard. You been bird-doggin' this township awhile now. They wouldn't mind a corpse of you. Now, you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you."

And with that line my infatuation with Firefly began. The Joss Whedon series ran for only fourteen episodes, of which only eleven aired - thanks again FOX - but the devotion of Firefly fandom brought the series back to the big screen.

The spaceship Serenity, headed by Captain Malcolm Reynolds, is still on the run from the Alliance (imagine the world's largest corporate merger between China and the United States, with big guns), but this time Inara (Morena Baccarin) and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass) are gone. It's not necessary to watch Firefly to enjoy Serenity although the overall experience is much richer if you have. Malcolm Reynolds, played by Nathan Fillion, is perhaps the most entertaining, yet perplexing, character I've seen in a long while.

Equal parts charming and cunning, Mal can crack wise with you and then gun you down in the flash of an eye. After losing the battle of Serenity Valley Mal decided to cut ties with Earth and take his life into his own hands, regardless of what the Alliance deems fitting. A former sergeant in the Independents army with a relaxed sense of moral code now Mal just strove to get by. It is not until The Operative (Chiwitel Ejiofor) comes after his own Mal rediscovers his self-destructive nature in trying to keep things just. 

Serenity is a sci-fi western hybrid that takes a closer look at the psyche of a losing side of war. With the Alliance running the entire world individuality has nowhere to go. Down, but not out, Mal, his next in command Zoe (Gina Torres), her husband  and ace funnyman-pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), hot head gun for hire Jayne (Adam Baldwin), and mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite) race around the 'verse pulling off jobs no other crew could imagine. The only unfamiliar face in the cast belongs to Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays an assassin with a moral code similar to Anton Chiguhr. He does not care who River is, why the Alliance wants her, or why Mal & Co. are protecting her. But he will kill whoever gets in his way.

Serenity doesn't waste time jolting off immediately with a Michael Mann-esque heist sequence. This is no ordinary robbery as there is no cash or merchandise to be had, only breaking out River (Summer Glau). River, a recent addition to Serenity, after having her mind tampered with by the Alliance seeks only to get back to her old life with her brother Simon (Sean Maher). Writer/director Joss Whedon does not conform to the traditional t.v. to movie standards, expect the unexpected. Beloved characters might not make it through this adventure.

Now I know what you're thinking: if this a continuation of a t.v. show-to-film the special effects are going to resemble something from a direct-to-dvd movie. Well you're wrong. That problem is non-existent in Serenity. Fire fights, battle sequences, and set pieces look straight from Industrial Lights and Magic. I love films that create their own universes; sci-fi actioners with ingenuity are a rarity and Serenity has it in spades.

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