First of all go see Serenity. See it several times, spend good money to see it. This is a wonderful movie and Joss Whedon needs to make more.
In a way, it's probably a good thing for me that I hadn't seen the whole series. I say this because coming to it (mostly) fresh allowed me to appreciate it on its own merits as a kick-ass SF adventure movie with some hard-hitting messages about individual freedom and choices in amongst the gore (not really all that much of it) and fabulous special effects. Joss Whedon has done a fabulous job of packing an entire universe and its background into a two-hour movie that has no slow parts. Blink and you'll miss something, and that something usually comes back later in the movie to get your attention.He has, once again, given us characters with depth and flaws that we can care about - even the nameless Operative, played magnificently by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is more than just a two-dimensional villain who stalks the Serenity and the severely damaged little
psychic girl it carries. Since I'm far more interested in the plot and the characters than the special effects (a movie's plot and characters will redeem the SFX if the plot and characters are good, but no amount of shiny SFX will save a crappy plot with cardboard characters) Serenity rates five stars from me on that score alone.
The synopsis of the movie is here, although it's a bit off -
River and her brother Simon are on the ship at the start of the movie, working hard at getting thrown off at the next port, which ship's captain Mal is only too happy to do after Simon mouths off one time too many. However, when River goes into full-bore martial arts death machine mode in the spaceport bar where Mal is trying to close out the most recent deal, Mal decides that there's something in River's head that the Alliance wants very badly - and if they want it, maybe he ought to keep them away from it. Eventually that something leads Mal and his crew beyond the edge of civilized space into the realm of the Reavers...and beyond.
Things I especially liked about the movie, aside from The Operative? Mal Reynolds. Fabulous character, the true heir of Harrison Ford's Han Solo. Jayne - Animal Mother goes to the stars. Zoe and Wash: great supporting characters, as are Kaylee, Inara and Simon. As for River, this is really her movie, and she kicks much ass, literally (with some awesome fight scenes that wouldn't have looked out of place in either Buffy or The Matrix) and figuratively, as we get inside her head to see why she's the broken and very dangerous little girl she is. Did I mention how much I liked the characters?
They say that if Serenity draws well enough, there could be a second season of Firefly. I'd like to see that. I'd like to see that very much. So I plan on seeing this movie again. Several times. In theaters. You should too.
Grateful tip of the wombat's helmet to Professor Death and Townhall.com for cluing me into the free blogger passes. Had to endure some lame marketing before the show by Channel 45 and K-Dweeb, but it was well worth it.
UPDATE: Links to several reviews, almost all enthusiastic.