Category Archives: Dystopia

“War for the Planet of the Apes” Movie Review

Isn’t it just the weirdest thing to be rooting against your own species in a conflict for the future of our planet? Is no one else feeling that right now? Just me? Okay. This science-fiction action drama was released worldwide on July 14th, 2017, earning back its large $150 million budget in no time. The third and (supposedly) final entry in the rebooted franchise and the ninth overall entry of the series that began all the way back in 1968 with Charleton Heston, Matt Reeves returns to direct this picture after his outing with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 3 years ago. Two years after the events of Dawn, the highly intelligent and respected ape Caesar leads his people into a new conflict with the surviving humans. When a ruthless Colonel McCullough shatters his doorstep and threatens everything he’s built, Caesar must wrestle with protecting his people, controlling his darker self, and seeing a way for the future to hold hope… for either species. I vividly remember seeing the original Rise of the Planet of the Apes and thinking that it was going to be a piece of crap blockbuster that happened to star James Franco. To the universe, I was wrong and so I apologize. And then in 2014, a mere month or so after I began my blog, I was blown away by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, one of the few sequels that manage to outshine the original in almost all departments. So naturally, I was very excited to see what would happen with War, once again directed by Reeves. But I clearly didn’t know what to prepare for because when it was over, so many people walked out of the theater speechless. And after pondering on it for a few days, I’m ready to share my thoughts: go see and support this movie right now. The thing that the original film from 1968 was most famous for, aside from its iconic twist ending, was the convincing and groundbreaking prosthetic makeup. On a similar note, the reboot series has been famous for its astounding and realistic motion-capture photography. For those unaware, motion-capture is when an actor or actress is covered in computer animation but their voice, movements, and emotive responses are all their own. The results can be hit or miss, but whenever Andy Serkis is involved, it is almost instantly the former. The apes in this movie may just be the best motion-capture work I’ve ever seen in a feature film. At a point, I actually thought that the production crew had brought real apes on board to film the various scenes. Not only that but the environments of the San Francisco Red Forest and snowy winter terrain of a base look gorgeous with or without CGI, thanks to cinematographer Michael Seresin. Andy Serkis returns for the third time as the ape Caesar and gives perhaps his best performance to date. The man revolutionized how acting could be seen with the lens, with Gollum from The Lord of the Rings being arguably his most famous work still. But here, he gives Caesar a few tragic dimensions that just make you respect and understand him. He never asked for this war, hell, he didn’t even ask to be the leader of the apes. But he’s been thrown into this situation and has to deal with it and face his past demons, including the traitorous Koba. Comedian Steve Zahn joins the simians as Bad Ape, a hermit from a zoo in California. Putting a character as comic relief in a film like this was a huge risk and could have easily become a gimmicky misfire. But it paid off, and it got some genuine laughs out of the audience. Meanwhile, Woody Harrelson is appropriately villainous and unstable as the Colonel, almost the complete opposite from his character in Zombieland. During one lengthy monolog scene, (The ONLY ONE in the entire movie) he gives an emotionally distant story concerning his son and the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to save humanity from extinction. The increasingly prolific Michael Giacchino composes his 6th film score in just over 12 months. And yet, this might be one of his best, next to The Incredibles and Up. Several of the tracks seem to pay homage to legends like Ennio Morricone, mostly consisting of mellow piano and strings and a haunting choir. The opening titles even feature an inventive all-drums version of the 20th Century Fox fanfare, establishing the truly bananas feeling of everything. But it also allows certain scenes to breathe with long takes of verbal silence and sign language between the apes elevated by faint piano melodies driving the characters. I do feel the need to give the disclaimer that, despite its title, War for the Planet of the Apes is not an action movie. While it does open up with a fantastic sequence in the woods and some other moments that occur later on, this is a bleak and mature exploration of dark themes. The necessity and desire for violence, torture, obligations to your species versus obligations to your loved ones, prejudice and hatred. Never flinching and sometimes hard to watch, the film pulls zero punches in regards to subject matter like this. And the characters almost never get the easy way out in the story. But because this is the end of a trilogy, you have to watch Rise and Dawn in order first since jumping right in wouldn’t give you that emotional oomph. And that oomph hits hard and moved me almost to tears. It’s extremely rare for a franchise to move through nine films and have a rebooted trilogy. Even rarer is for that one to be the best out of all of them. But War for the Planet of the Apes is one of the best final installments ever and a deeply, emotionally satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogies in recent memory. Up there with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Bourne Ultimatum.

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“Blade Runner” Movie Review

*The following review will account for the Final Cut version of Blade Runner, as I feel it’s the only one worth watching.*

In honor of the new film, Blade Runner 2049, which is due out in October, I felt it was appropriate to review the original classic. This neo-noir sci-fi thriller- written by David Webb Peoples and Hampton Fancher -released on June 25th, 1982. It vastly underperformed both overseas and domestically, only grossing $33.8 million against a $28 million budget. And that includes rereleases. But now it is considered among the best in its genre and one of the most highly regarded films of the 1980’s. Disclaimer: this review will contain significant spoilers, so read at your own discretion. It’s the not-too-distant (And not too absurd) future of 2019 in Los Angeles. Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is the type of human who is tasked with finding androids that look like other humans and even imitate them. When a group of these androids, called Replicants, escape from custody on an off-world colony, he has to track them down and kill them all. Dystopian sci-fi futures aren’t anything new in cinema. Nor are stories that attempt to have sociopolitical allegories infused into their overall narratives. And yet, there is just something about Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner that makes it feel so singular, so original, and so memorable in almost every frame of the motion picture. But it’s not just a science-fiction story. Hell, even if you erased the flying cars, and any mention of future technology, what you’re left with is still a compelling drama. This is a movie focused on the question of general ethics and our capacity to follow them. Not just human beings but Replicants as well. In fact, some of the Replicants are more humane than some of the human characters we meet at all. This movie never did get enough recognition, especially when it first debuted in 1982. It bombed so hard because few people were interested in a science-fiction film that made the audience think about the story rather than big explosions or sentimentality. It also failed to recoup its budget because it premiered at the same time as E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, a fantastic movie in its own right. But in terms of filmmaking, Blade Runner is an infinitely more fascinating picture. Everything you see on screen, there is more of it to show behind the curtain. From the history of the Tyrell Corporation to the details of the off-world colonies, the whole universe oozes with detail and layers of personality. Being based on a Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, It would have been so nice to see more of this interesting yet somewhat gloomy world. No one directs science-fiction films like Ridley Scott. From the original Alien in 1979 to 2015’s The Martian, every single one of his films looks absolutely gorgeous. They have lived in worlds made with sets that probably took several days to design and build. These sets seamlessly blend with CGI and bluescreen to create a unique and wholly original vision of what 2019 might look like. Even the way they are directed feel thematic, from the sexually-charge mystery of Alien to the isolation of Prometheus. And then there’s that ending. An ending that has had so much discussion that it puts the finales of both Inception and Birdman to utter shame. After saving his life, Roy Batty peacefully dies in the rain a content man. Not a machine, not a Replicant, a man. And when Deckard goes back to that apartment, he picks up that origami unicorn. “Too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?” he remembers Gaff telling him as a warning. And then he runs out. Is Rick Deckard a Replicant, the type of being that he’s been hired to track down as a Blade Runner? Or is he still just a human and feeling a sense of imagination or paranoia? It’s a great question to ponder with other people who have seen it. Personally for me, though, it would make more sense if he turned out to be a Replicant. Why go through all this trouble and all this discussion just for it to be untrue? It has to be true, for the sake of the themes of the story. While I ultimately have mixed feelings about Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming sequel set in 2049, I have no doubt in my mind they will address either of the two. How they approach it is the real trich, though. Blade Runner is not strictly speaking a perfect movie. The pacing, especially around the middle act, wanders from time to time. And some of the effects don’t necessarily hold up very well. But this is still one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time, and one of the greatest films ever made, period. Even with epic works like Gladiator, Alien, and even The Martian, this has to be Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, and one worth watching many times just to pick up something new each time.

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“Metropolis” Movie Review

The mediator between the movie and the audience must be the reviewer. This silent epic science-fiction drama from Fritz Lang- based on the novel by his wife Thea von Harbou -was released worldwide on January 10th, 1927. Despite its universal acclaim in the modern era, contemporary critics dismissed it and only barely made back 1% percent of its budget of 5 million Reichsmarks.But today, it is frequently listed among the best and most influential pictures in cinematic history, and for good reason. Set in the (not so) distant future of 2026, the gigantic titular city is inhabited by an array of wealthy, pretentious industrialists who revel high skyscrapers. Underneath it all, workers break their backs to ensure that the city keeps running and that the big machines are in mint condition. The whole city is run by the master and mogul, Joh Fredersen, who really wants nothing more than to keep his high societal status. His son,  Freder, a humble man, realizes how corrupt this system is, and sets out with a young and beautiful woman named Maria to fix what has been wrought. Does that sound like a familiar premise? Absolutely, because Metropolis was the original dystopian story, film or literature. In fact, it was also the first feature-length movie of the science-fiction genre, clocking in at about 2 hours and 33 minutes. Well, at least that’s how long it was at its initial premiere before getting severely chopped down by the studio for commercial reasons until much of the film was restored in 2010 at 2 hours and 28 minutes, which is the version I watched. Though some of the footage is still lost and replaced with modern texts, the restored footage is stylistically different with a dirty film grain and smaller frame. But it still adds to the experience. I promise you this: If there is a franchise in the genres of sci-fi or dystopia that you hold near and dear to your heart, Metropolis paved the way for it. In his breakthrough role, Gustav Fröhlich is excellently convincing as the young Freder. Often frightened by his new surroundings, he has little to no experience in the lifestyle he tries to enter. In an age where heroes are seemingly able to adapt to completely alien situations at a moment’s notice, it’s nice to see a protagonist who has little clue as to what he’s doing. Right by his side is Alfred Abel as the conniving Joh Fredersen, Rudolf Klein-Rogge as a Frankensteinesque madman bent on a powerful creation, Heinrich George as the pragmatic foreman of the machines underneath the big city, and Brigitte Helm as the pseudo-goddess of the working class. Helm is particularly memorable as Maria, showing a great capability of compassion even in her most fearful state. She also shares a dual role with the Maschinemensch, a man-like robot who is used to carry out the wealthy’s agenda. This android is undoubtedly the most iconic aspect of the film and is recognizable to any film buff, regardless if they’ve seen the movie or not. Released during the Weimar Period in Germany, the G-rated film was one of the last in the mostly forgotten movement of Germanic Expressionism. For the unfamiliar, this was a movement of many different arts, including painting, dance, architecture, and cinema. Very few words are needed to describe what is happening onscreen and is all part of the creator’s stylistic logic. Everything that you see in the background is just as important and as interesting as what’s happening in the foreground. Speaking of background, the Art Deco and the production design are simply stunning, even by today’s standards. Everything, from the paintings of distant skyscrapers to the intricate machines of the underworld, took nothing but time and heart- for days on end, perhaps. Although the accompanying soundtrack has likely changed many times over, the score for the 2010 restoration is breathtaking. Recorded by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, it mostly comprises large bombastic tracks with huge horns and percussion during some of the more exciting scenes, while switching to high strings and piano for emotional character moments. Metropolis is not just entertaining black-and-white eye candy, though. Its story delivers important themes such as the gap between social classes, mass production, the dangers of industrialization, and American modernity. The lattermost category is reflective of the Roaring ’20s, or the “Jazz Age,” which was occurring at the exact time of the film’s release. Like many socialites of that era, many of the wealthy people would rather drown in excess and meaningless parties than pay attention to the world around them. Even in the climax, when everything is coming to a head, they still don’t care. In fact, this was arguably the first movie in the so-called “social science-fiction” subgenre, which used futuristic settings to explore themes and concepts regarding human nature. At a time when all anyone wanted to see was the next movie featuring Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp, this is especially brave. It may be over 90 years old and have some minor middle-act pacing issues, but Metropolis is still a relevant cautionary tale about what would happen if class warfare was allowed to flourish. Easily the most influential science-fiction film ever produced, it also stands as proof that not a single line of dialogue has to be spoken in order for a movie to still be engaging, grippingly powerful, and moving. And- dare, I say –Metropolis is the single most impressive and ambitious silent film ever created.

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2016 in Film: Retrospective Superlatives

I know what you’re probably thinking right now. You’re expecting me to publish my list of the Top Ten films of the year. Rest assured that is coming, but as a bit of a prelude, I decided to give some superficial awards to other movies deserving to be recognized. To be clear, almost none of these will appear on the Top Ten list to be published in a day or so. Rather, I just had fun because I saw more movies released this year than any previous one. So let’s get down to business.

Most Original Film: “The Lobster”

Never before has a vision of the future been so terrifying yet hilarious. Yorgos Lanthimos’ black comedy revolves around a newly single man who has 45 days to find a new mate before he’s turned into any animal of his choosing.. in his case, it’s a lobster. Collin Farrell is subtle and low-key as the main character, in the most absurd situation possible. How many other films can you say feature a man who may have the possibility of becoming a crustacean? The answer should be none.

Most Overrated Film: “Hail Caesar!”

Some may remember my overall appraisal of this film in m review back in February. And for the most part, I still stand by it. However, upon a second viewing, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pointlessness in the story. The fantastic cast and sharp script, aside, the Coen Brothers have certainly done better in the past, and I believe they can still do better in the future. A good love letter to fans of classical cinema, and decidedly nothing more.

Most Underrated Film: “The Magnificent Seven”

Despite the criticism it received for its unoriginality, it’s important to remember that this is technically a remake. Going into the theater, all I wanted to see was a reminder of why I love the Western genre. An excellent leading titular crew who share great chemistry, lead by Denzel Washington himself, make this a fun adventure for a modern era. And that final gun battle was really some exciting stuff to behold.

Most Overlooked Film: “Midnight Special”

Overshadowed by other, much larger films released during the Spring, it’s a shame that Midnight Special didn’t see many viewers in the theater. However, that absolutely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the time to watch it. Jeff Nichols’ beautiful science-fiction drama is a gorgeous blend of emotional family drama and action spectacle. A truly original “modern sci-fi,” I implore you to find a way to watch this by any means.

Most Disappointing Film: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”

To be clear, I’m not saying this film is outright terrible. It’s just nowhere near as good as the hype had told us it would be. A real tragedy, considering this is the first feature film where the titular heroes and Wonder Woman all appear on-screen together in live-action. The action scenes were undoubtedly enjoyable, but the substance of the story and the relevance of various subplots is still lost on me.

Funniest Film: “Keanu”

Predictable? Yes. Funny as hell? Yes. As a fan of Key and Peele’s sketch show on Comedy Central, I had been looking forward to their first theatrical movie together. And boy, did they deliver on the laughs? Remaining 100% self-aware the entire time, the chemistry between the two leads, alone, is worth the price of admission. All of the pop culture references hit the right chords, and the scene where Key is tripping balls in the club was probably the hardest I laughed all year long.

Worst Film: “Now You See Me 2”

They can’t all be good, though, and that’s why my pick for the worst film of 2016 is Now You See Me 2. At what point after the first one’s release did they see the need to produce a sequel that’s somehow even less comprehensible than its predecessor? I was all set to give this spot to Meet The Blacks, but I remembered this movie and just became infuriated. Numerous plot holes and forced acting aside, the magic tricks are condescendingly and unbelievably explained, making me just mentally check out. Avoid this.

Do you agree with my picks? What was the worst or most overrated movie of the year to you? Whatever it may be, be sure to leave a Comment below and Like this Post. And if you’re interested in seeing more content like this, be sure to Follow my blog and I’ll see you in the future.

“Meet The Blacks” Movie Review

Why can’t spoof movies just die? Seriously, they’re dead, or at least they should be. This zany attempt at spoof comedy co-written and directed by Deon Taylor saw a wide release over April Fools’ weekend, where it earned ten times its $900,000 budget. This could be typical for cheap horror films, but the fact that this is a spoof makes its success even more surprising, and almost perplexing. Stand-up comedian Mike Epps plays a down-on-his-luck dad, Carl Black, who has recently his family moved from Chicago to Beverly Hills. On the day they move in, The Purge begins, where all crime is legal for an entire night. This is the movie which is being spoofed. And to its credit… no, it just failed. To give you some perspective, I laughed harder and more often during the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie than I did here. To start off, Mike Epps is just not a very funny actor. He had no charisma or proper comedic timing whatsoever, which compromised his ability to carry this movie on his shoulders. He and his family members have absolutely zero chemistry throughout the entirety of the runtime. Zulay Henao is perfectly functional as the protagonist’s wife, though she could have been played by literally anyone who was offered the role. On the other hand, Bresha Webb and Alex Henderson, playing the son and daughter, respectively, annoyed me to no end. To be fair, they’re young and this arguably not a good showcase for their potential, but their characters are just so unlikable I can’t stand them even in one scene. The script is where everything falls flat. One of the many problems it suffers from is that several scenes felt as though they were created just to tell a single, isolated joke. Sometimes, it will play it extremely safe and take the easiest possible joke for the scenario. Other times, it will try way too hard, either to take itself seriously or hitting multiple jokes at once. I wonder if the writers had based the jokes and screenplay on their shared experiences watching films centered entirely around sex and toilet humor. Surprisingly, there’s a great deal of talent in the supporting cast and behind the scenes. The soundtrack, composed by East Coast rap legend, RZA, is filled primarily with modern hip-hop or R&B songs, which admittedly fit well with the setting of Central California. Onscreen, comedic actors such as Gary Owen, Charlie Murphy, Lil Duval, DeRay Davis, George Lopez, and even cameos from retired fighter Mike Tyson and rapper Snoop Dogg, are reserved in the sidelines. In a way, they all manage to outshine the main star of the movie, and some of them only have about 20 minutes of screentime. A couple of them do seem to have fun with their roles. But the ratio is very unbalanced. I have to believe that the filmmakers kidnapped their families and forced them to take the paycheck. Also, (like the actual movie, The Purge) it became evident at a point that the Purge is meaningless in this movie. The fact that some rich white neighbors of theirs want to break into their house and kill them is just like any other home invasion you’ve seen. A few alterations in the script and that entire circumstance didn’t need to happen. If anything, it’s just background noise, which becomes apparent when you hear a gunshot or explosion sound effect now and then. In all honesty, there were a couple of moments that made me chuckle and one in particular where I nearly died laughing. To save the torture, I’ll just tell you right now. Vine legend King Bach made a cameo appearance in the first 45 minutes as the daughter’s boyfriend, and when The Purge starts he starts a murderous rampage in the house. That was actually pretty funny. For the rest of it, however, Meet The Blacks is a boring comedic mess from top to bottom, and one of the worst movies released this year. If this had come out on straight-to-DVD, it would make sense, but the fact that it was released theatrically just makes it more painful to bear. One last side story that you might find both interesting and pitiful: Here in Texas, it is currently Cram Week, where we have to get in some last minute studying for the Final Exams. However, I absorbed 1 hour and 33 minutes of my life to set aside my assignments to watch Meet The Blacks on Netflix. So for those of you who say that I have absurdly stupid, jacked up priorities… Congratulations, you’ve guessed correctly.

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“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” Movie Review

Alright, so here it is. The year is drawing to a close, and there were some earlier releases that I feel would be criminal to not look back and review. Let’s start off with one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and one of the most disappointing. This comic superhero film meant as a kickstart for the DC Extended Universe, released nationally on March 25th, 2016, where it had the biggest opening for a superhero movie of all time at that point. This was unfortunately followed by a historic drop at the box office and never recovered, hampered by the negative reactions from fans and critics. Some time after the events of Man of Steel, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne returns to his vigilante persona of the Batman, whom he has worked as for nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, Clark Kent, A.K.A. Superman, uses his resources as a freelance reporter at the Daily Planet to try and expose Batman for his increasingly violent actions against criminals. Eventually, they will come to a head and face-off, with eccentric billionaire Lex Luthor watching their fight from afar. To start this review, is Dawn of Justice as terrible as many critics say it is? No, it’s not. Does that make it a great movie like many fanboys profess? Okay, let’s start off with what I liked. After years of being the center of tabloid scandals, Ben Affleck has proven himself as both a filmmaker and an actor, and he does a fantastic job as Batman. It’s hard to imagine that 3 years ago, fans were outraged at his casting, going so far as to post petitions online for a different actor. But Affleck embodies the brooding, tortured, and charismatic qualities of the American icon, even if his actions are very different than what we know him for. Henry Cavill was fine as Superman, but the chemistry he had with Affleck on-screen is questionable. In a small role that had many people scratching their heads as to why it was relevant, Israeli model Gal Gadot is beautiful and strong as Wonder Woman. She totally encompasses the warrior spirit and loving nature of the character and was actually useful in the story, even if she doesn’t appear for much of it. This being directed by Zack Snyder, a very visual director, the special effects look beautiful. The crisp camera work from Larry Fong is matched by the intense editing job by David Brenner. The action? Oh yeah, the action scenes are insanely cool. In one particular segment, Batman is invading a warehouse crowded with mercenaries and he just beats the piss out of all of them. It felt like a Batman: Arkham video game come to cinematic form. And the titular battle between the heroes is really intense. It’s long and drawn out, and, by the end, you can clearly tell both crime fighters are exhausted. Now let’s get to everything else. Narratively, this movie is a mess, chock full of unresolved subplots and pointless characters. Even with a whopping runtime of 2 hours and 31 minutes, it still didn’t feel like enough time to flesh out everything to its fullest extent. For example, the Knightmare Sequences everyone’s been talking about was badass in every sense of the word. But when you really start to think about it, there wasn’t much point to it other than to tease Darkseid’s existence in this universe. It was never mentioned again by any of the characters, so if they cut out that segment, I don’t think that their lives would be any different. And then, there’s Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. He’s bad. I don’t his character was bad, but his portrayal was jarring. He felt out of place with all of his quips and crazy mannerisms, especially considering the dark tone. Speaking of which, this is a major point of contention among audiences; the tone and characterization. Both are very dark and gritty, with one reviewer calling the film “joyless.” I’m fine with this new take, as interpretations of the characters have to remain distinct and different. But in the end, when that new take ends up compromising the story of the film, then it really doesn’t matter. However, recent reports say that executives are trying to right the wrongs with their upcoming slate of comic book productions, specifically Justice League. So I’m excited for that to come out next November. For right now, however, the theatrical Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a visually impressive yet jumbled up superhero adventure void of any plot cohesion. If you are going to watch this movie at all, watch the Ultimate Edition. It has added 30 extra minutes of footage that help explain certain plot points better and gives more R-rated content. The best thing to come out of this movie? I’m now pumped to see Wonder Woman and the Batfleck solo film more than I was before.

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“Firefly” T.V. Show Review

What did I do? I watched Firefly. And if a show is able to make me content being that slothful and doing nothing else for an entire week, it was worth doing a post. This space western drama by nerd icon Joss Whedon originally aired for a brief 3-month stint on Fox before getting canceled; for all intents and purposes, it was dead upon arrival. I’ll dive further into detail about that, but let’s dissect the series as it was. Set 500 years in the future, the Solar System we currently live in has been used up, and all of the human population has migrated to a new one. Dozens of new planets and moons were terraformed to match the likeness of Earth. The “core” planets are very lush in technology, while the “outer” planets are quite forbidding and desolate- the primary setting of the series. Shortly after colonization, the United States and China formed a supergovernment known as the Alliance and began a war against outer planet colonies for total dominance. The rebels, widely called Browncoats, got stomped in the war, thus the Alliance now maintains control over the vast system. Six years later, the main character Malcolm Reynolds, who fought on the losing side, embarks on a series of quests onboard his Firefly-class smuggling ship, Serenity. He goes on adventures alongside one of the greatest ensemble casts in the history of television. The very first thing to address is that Firefly is more like a Western than it is a sci-fi. There are no alien species, most people in the galaxy use powder weapons rather than lasers, and most of the outer planets feel like deserts for people to run around on horseback. In that sense, it’s arguable that Firefly is the grounded and plausible depiction of the far future yet, no disrespect to Star Trek. Now let’s break down each crew member aboard Serenity. First of all, Malcolm Reynolds is one of the greatest characters Joss Whedon has ever written. He’s such a bitter, cynical space pirate after losing the Unification War. You really get the implication that not only did he lose the war, he lost his faith entirely. Actor Nathan Fillion was able to bring a likability and a sense of humor that made Mal feel like a complete person. He does put up a lot of walls on himself, but that’s because he absolutely has a heart of gold underneath. It just got ripped out a stomped. His second-in-command is Zoe Washbourne, a war buddy who is incredibly efficient with firefights. What makes both her and Mal complete badasses is that Greedo would never stand a chance; they shoot first. Her husband, Wash, is more or less the comic relief of the show. He never fought in a war, he never lost anything, so he’s not bitter. He pilots Serenity and manages to get the crew out of tricky scenarios. Then, there’s Derrial Book, a Shepherd or priest. Mal is initially reluctant about letting a preacher on board, but they mutually respect one another. Book is the voice of reason among a ship full of criminals and wackjobs. It’s implied that he has some high priority status with The Alliance in the past, but since the show was canceled, we’ll never know. (Unless you read a graphic novel) Jayne is the mercenary aboard the ship, meaning he will do anything you tell him as long as he’s paid. His personal love is Vera, a custom firearm of great power. Next, is Inara, the credible person aboard. She’s a Companion, which is more or less the Buddhist version of a prostitute. That’s right, prostitution has been made legal in the future, thus they are seen with high members of society. Another strong woman is Kaylee, the engineer that helps run the ship and figure out the kinks. Though a Firefly is  not prestigious, Kaylee is still highly optimistic and the only genuinely sweet crew member. Now fo the Tams. Simon is an extremely intelligent doctor from the Alliance, who brings a mysterious crate on board. You find out it’s his sister, River. He gave up his entire fortune to find her and get her to safety. River was experimented on and is quite confused throughout the show. Even with such a big ensemble, everyone on the show feels relevant at all times. Projected by the fact that everyone on the show loved each other as a family in real life. So why did Fox break up a family? Because they didn’t like it. They chose to air all of the episodes out of order, and ultimately cancel a show that was before its time. It’s almost a slap in the face. It’s an example of a drama that can still be funny due to good comedic timing. However, when the show wants to be creepy and uncomfortable, it’s definitely that. A few times, Serenity runs into the Reavers, a sub-populace of cannibalistic humans that will rape you to death and sew your skin onto their clothes. Scares me every time I see a ship of theirs. Despite the short run, Firefly still has relatable characters, a fantastic musical score, a unique style, and realistic dialogue. After finishing, you’ll be watching the movie Serenity. Joss Whedon did get a chance from Universal Pictures to wrap up his story in cinematic form. But that’s another review for another day soon.