Serenity is an American science fiction film that was written and directed by Joss Whedon and released in 2005. It's based on Whedon's series Firefly and follows the crew of the titular spaceship as they try to uncover an Alliance secret that's locked deep in River's mind while evading an Alliance operative who has been sent to apprehend her. Five short videos, collectively known as either Session 416 or R. Tam Sessions, were also released, ahead of the film, as a viral marketing campaign. These videos show a series of counseling sessions between River and an unnamed therapist and illustrate her transformation from an innocent young girl to the living weapon who we first encountered in the series. Many fans, as well as Whedon himself, had hoped that Serenity would lead to a sequel or even a revival of the series. However, due to it's poor box office performance, that didn't come to pass.
There are a few things that make Serenity particularly interesting, the first of which is that it was released nearly three years after Firefly was cancelled. Even though Firefly had been a ratings failure, fans were able to spread so much word of mouth that, when the DVD set was released the following year, it sold well enough to convince Universal to bankroll a special effects-laden feature film based on the series; a feat unheard of before or since. Secondly, Serenity introduces two of the most memorable characters in the franchise: The Operative and Mr. Universe. The Operative is ruthless, efficient, absolutely convinced of his own righteousness and completely devoted to the Alliance, so much so that he's sacrificed his humanity to carry out its bidding. He's such a perfect killing machine that he's practically a force of nature. Mr. Universe, a hacker who helps unlock the River's secret, is a stark contrast to The Operative. He's brilliant & individualistic, but undisciplined and very prone to indulge in his appetites. Both would have been a great addition to the series. Thirdly, it features two of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed. Summer Glau (River) studied ballet for several years before pursuing an acting career and that experience allowed her to perform some very unique and spectacular choreography in those scenes, which really helped sell the idea that River is a living weapon. Finally, Serenity resolves much of the story that was set up by the series and, in doing so, provides fans with a sense of closure. By the end of the film, two members of Serenity's crew are dead, the Alliance is on the verge of being destroyed, one of the shows biggest mysteries has been answered and River is far more stable than we've ever seen her. Firefly could have continued past this point in the story, but it would have been a very different show and that's why Serenity is a nearly perfect ending to a truly great story.
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