After Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Joss Whedon created the amazing TV series Firefly, which was a little like a space Western, with outlaws, lyrical dialogue, and aliens. But though Whedon’s fans loved it, the network mishandled it, and it was prematurely canceled. A few years later, Whedon was given a chance to follow it up with the big screen Serenity (2005), his feature directing debut. This one brings on a new bad guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who is determined to get his hands on River (Summer Glau), an innocent girl who has been turned into a deadly weapon.
Trying to protect her is the captain of Serenity, Mal (Nathan Fillion), and his stalwart crew: Zoe (Gina Torres), Wash (Alan Tudyk), Inara (Morena Baccarin), Jayne (Adam Baldwin), the charmingly childlike Kaylee (Jewel Staite), the fusspot doctor Simon (Sean Maher), and Shepherd Book (Ron Glass). Not surprisingly, Whedon’s screenplay is excellent, but he also proves a natural director, shooting clear breezy action, never letting things get too bogged down or serious, and adding a subtle emotional weight to the comical byplay of his lovable characters. Sadly, like the show, this movie—for whatever reason—didn’t really catch on during its theatrical run. But, also like the show, it has had a second life as a cult classic at home. The film is available on Hoopla, a service that’s totally free to holders of public library cards; check your local library for details.