Not Complete Harmony
17 year old River (Summer Glau) is a telepath and that makes her of interest to the Alliance who want to harness and manipulate her powers for their evil plans. But her brother Simon (Sean Maher) thinks otherwise and aids her escape on to the mercenary spaceship Serenity captained by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew. But River's presence on Serenity causes issues as not only does it lead to an elite Alliance operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) relentlessly coming after them but her own fragile mental state causes enough issues on board the space ship between the crew.
Whilst I don't remember ever watching a full episode of "Star Trek" as a child I knew plenty about the characters before I watched the movies. The same cannot be said of "Firefly" as not only hadn't I watched any of the TV series but didn't know any of the characters prior to watching "Serenity" the movie which came about after the series ended and it turned out it had been more popular than the studio realised. The thing is that even with no knowledge "Serenity" is watchable even if it feels like you are getting just half of the experience.
What I am on about is that with no knowledge of the characters we are thrown on to this mercenary spaceship and in to the middle of a situation as we have the Alliance coming after River and drawing the whole crew in to the situation. It is easy enough to follow as whilst it is frequently playful especially with a very playful not as it seems opening the storyline is simple. In fact "Serenity" has a simple style, a comical rough and ready style where space ships are not shiny but grubby hunks of junk, the characters tool up with lost of weapons rather than phasers and we have big, choreographed action sequences with Summer Glau impressing as she kicks some serious butt.
But what "Serenity" feels like to me is a movie made for the fans of "Firefly" and in particular the characters as such we have an array of characters from Nathan Fillion playing it cool but comical as Malcolm through to Adam Baldwin full of one liners as the gun toting Jayne. But with no introduction for newcomers it is clear that this is a "what happened to" for those who want to know what their favourite characters did next. Although all the acting is very good with Chiwetel Ejiofor making for a remarkably cool yet sadistic bad guy.
What this all boils down to is that for a new comer "Serenity" is an entertaining bit of science fiction which is easy to follow and frequently amusing. But it most definitely feels that to really appreciate it you had to have been a fan of the show "Firefly".