29 November 2012

Sci-Fi Review: Serenity

Serenity is the big screen debut and big bang finale for the ship and crew of the Firefly TV series. I originally watched this film a few years ago with no idea what it was about and found it a bit difficult to get in to and understand. After watching the series (see my review here), Serenity finally made a lot more sense and was a whole lot more enjoyable.

Serenity Poster 

An Operative is commissioned to pursue Simon and River Tam while Reynolds and the crew find out a disturbing secret about a world named Miranda. Reynolds takes it upon himself to get the secret out - no matter the cost.

There is a feeling that some time has passed in between the series and Serenity, although I have read it's only supposed to be a few months - this film makes it feel like it might have been longer. The ship is in more need of repair, some of the crew have gone on to other things, namely Inara and Book, while Simon is now ship's Doctor and River is a more accepted member of the crew, prompting Mal to have her accompany them on a 'routine' mission.

Simon decides to leave Serenity after he believes River's life was put in danger when Reavers showed up during that mission. But when River reacts to a message in a TV commercial and floors everyone in a bar, the Tam's find themselves back aboard Serenity once again and soon on the run from the Operative who uses Inara and all of their past associations to get to Mal.

What follows is a dark and action packed story involving death, Reavers, space battles, secrets and eventually finding a purpose in life. Serenity keeps the chemistry between our characters from the series with the interactions and humour intact.

Serenity manages to take us on a feature length adventure with our characters with the higher production values and a storyline that was probably more in line with what Joss Whedon wanted to do with the Firefly series. There was much to appreciate including an opening sequence that included an amazing single cut as we walk through the various areas of Serenity. This scene alone was great, but the movie, the story and action to follow continued to impress.

The Operative

Even with the darker scenes involving the ruthless Operative and his quest to find the Tam's at any cost, the usual level of humour from all our characters and no doubt under Whedon's guidance remains. I particularly liked how the relationship between Simon and Kaylee was realised in the climax of the film - even after the loss of some of our other beloved characters.

Mal is tested like he has never been in the series by the Operative's methods. This drives him to think differently and lead us (and his crew) to wonder if he's actually lost it. It all leads up to how the Reavers came to be and an epic space battle near the movie's end (I love space battles!)

Federation vs Reaver Battle 

It's a shame there will be no more adventures of the Serenity and her crew. This film does a decent job of tying things up while still leaving some options open. I never thought I'd get into the series - but I'm definitely saddened now that I've watched through it all and there's no more to come. Another blog that I perused in the creation of this review (and borrowed some images from) makes a valid call. 

We don't need more episodes of Firefly, but we definitely need a sequel to Serenity :)

Rating: 4.5 stars, 9/10.

03 November 2012

The Land of the Rising Sun

Just a quick note here. I was going to try and write up my review of the movie Serenity today but I have been spending most of it packing and preparing for our trip and while I have been neglecting my blog in the way of personal entries a bit - I guess this will have to do.

So, we're off to Japan for a couple of weeks - our first proper 'exploration' holiday trip since we ventured to Egypt and Dubai in 2010. Really looking forward to this one. We'll get to experience a Sumo tournament, check out the automotive culture with a visit to Mazda's museum in Hiroshima and AvGeek-out with a flight from Fukuoka to Tokyo and hopefully a visit to Narita's Aerospace museum.

I will report back once we return home.

Until then, Sayonara!

02 November 2012

B5 Review: Divided Loyalties & The Long, Twilight Struggle

We're getting ever-closer to the end of 2259 and Babylon 5's second season and with these two episodes, things are once again beginning to heat up.

Divided Loyalties
Susan and TaliaLyta Alexander returns to Babylon 5 on the run and with the news that there is a traitor among the station's command staff. We also learn a secret from another long serving character while Sheridan and Garibaldi look at recruiting Talia Winters into their circle.

This is another one of those episodes that takes us on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster as Lyta returns and turns things on their heads much to the discomfort of our crew. Sheridan opens up to Delenn about things while Ivanova hates having her loyalty questionned, particularly by a telepath - meanwhile seeking some comfort from Talia.

In the end, it appears we bid farewell to a member that has been there from the beginning - even recalling past episodes, is there no coming back for them?

Other questions arise about Ivanova's past, is there more for her in the future after what she reveals to Sheridan? Kosh must trust Lyta and what affect did her scan of him in The Gathering have on her that she is continuously being called to Vorlon space? Talia was once described as 'the future', but what happens now given the circumstances and is Kosh able to help at all if we remember events from Deathwalker?

It appears that since their first after-work drink in Ivanova's quarters, Talia and Susan have grown closer in friendship, or maybe more by this episode and it would seem too that something might definitely exist between Sheridan and Delenn as well...

Definitely an important episode in the arc and with a twist that Eleonor didn't see.

Rating: 7.5/10

The Long, Twilight Struggle
G'Kar and LondoSheridan meets Draal for the first time and the Narn-Centauri war comes to a horrific and crushing end.

This has always been a powerful episode for me since I first saw it. The impact of the events that close out the Narn-Centauri conflict (supported by Christopher Franke's powerful soundtrack) make it hard not to shed a tear.

G'Kar delivers one of his renowned and powerful speeches while Londo continues along the path he feels he has to follow, even after confessing to Refa he has concerns about his 'associates'...

The Long, Twilight Struggle is an interesting blend of hope and loss. While Sheridan and Delenn meet Draal and he offers his assistance to Babylon 5 and the crew, we see the hopeless situation the Narn are thrown in to - from their desperate and futile attack on Gorash 7 where the Shadows await, to the attack on their homeworld at the hands of the Centauri with their illegal weaponry. We learn a bit about the Earth-Minbari war from this episode too, where Franklin informs G'Kar that towards the end of the war, the Minbari bypassed several key colonies as they were ready to attack Earth itself - a maneuver played out very similarly to the Centauri in this episode.

While we end on a higher note, with Sheridan finally being made aware of the Rangers and sharing command of them with Delenn, we can only imagine the coming conflict that is being spoken of will take its toll on our characters far more than what the Narn and Centauri have just been through.

An emotional episode, this one goes up there with Chrysalis, scoring reactions from Eleonor both with the battle at Gorash 7 and the assault on the Narn homeworld.

Rating: 9/10