Not everyone will like "Serenity." But there are enough nerds out there for it to prosper. Adding the name Joss Whedon at the helm doesn't hurt either. It's the movie version of a short-lived television show called "Firefly;" also created by Whedon and starring the same characters. Fans of the show (all six of you) will probably really love the big budget version. The rest of you, unless you're hard core sci-fi/fantasy fans, will see poor acting, cheesy dialogue and nerdy "space stuff." Having said that, it is NOT necessary for you to have seen any episodes of the TV show. Whedon does an excellent job of giving us the backstory in about 10 minutes. And in a very creative way I might add. He doesn't just come out and say, "this is what you missed last week." Go see for yourself; it is actually very enjoyable.
It all takes place in a solar system of planets terraformed for humans to live on them; 500 years into the future. There is an alliance (of course), or government, and then there are the outer rim planets filled with, for lack of a better term, rebels. The alliance wants control and everyone to live peacefully and happy. While the rebels want free-thinking and...to get rowdy once in a while, presumably. In the middle is Captain Mal and his rag-tag crew of thieves. They pick up a government created psychic warrior (in the form of a 90 lb girl) and begin to make unpleasant discoveries. Space battles, martial arts style fist fights and lots of talking ensue.
Right away I realized that these actors could use a little more brush-up time on the stage at New School University with James Lipton. But you can't make a movie version of a semi-popular TV show with different actors; what would the Star Trek films have been with a completely different cast? So I got over the poor casting quickly and realized secondly, that the story is taking a while to get anywhere and there sure is a lot of talking and not enough laser beams and ass-kickery. It's sprinkled here and there, but not enough to measure up to what I was expecting. Then, with the final 45 minutes to an hour, the fighting begins. The space battle, though only about 4 minutes long, is probably the best I have ever seen. Better even than the opening to "Revenge of the Sith." Just as much going on, but... dirtier; and way cooler looking ships, sound effects and aerobatics (is that a word?). You have a city of decomposing corpses (right on), blood thirsty savages that will stop at nothing to rip you to shreds and lots of guns and "Matrix-style" fight scenes. It really gets intense there at the end and made it worth it for me, but probably not your average movie-goer.
So here's what it comes down to: I like sci-fi/fantasy. In fact, as long as it is done well, it is my favorite genre. If it's not done well, it's probably my least favorite genre. "Serenity" is done well. Despite the poor acting, the story was basically good and the intensity factor went way up due largely to the great effects team Whedon had. I was a big "Buffy" fan in college and after, so I have a soft spot in my heart for Whedon ("Alien: Resurrection" is an awesome movie and by far the best in the series - I know I'm gonna take heat for that; sorry Ridley). His characters have super depth and very orginal quirks and this story deserved to be told for their sake. But it should've stayed on the small screen. An interesting point I read: since "Firefly" was cancelled prematurely, this film was probably a cut down version of what a second season might've been. Had it been told on television, over the course of eight weeks, it probably would've been much deeper and consequently, acted out better.
Still, once it got rolling I had a blast and will see it again one day on DVD. I think 70% of the people I know will think this movie was too slow to get their attention right away, poorly acted or just plain dorky. 25% will side with me: not the greatest thing ever, but definitely fun and worth the ten bucks after a hard day's work. And the remaing 5% will think it is totally kick-ass and they can't wait to see it again with their friends ASAP. I could be wrong though. Maybe I'm giving too much credit (or not enough credit) to the movie patrons out there. I think I would recommend that you at least check it out. If you absolutely hate sci-fi or fantasy, don't bother. But everyone else may be pleasantly surprised at what this film has to offer; and maybe, just maybe, it will generate enough buzz to warrant a sequel. I would see that in a heartbeat.