As some of you probably already know, Joss Whedon, the genius behind BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, did a short-lived TV "space western" called FIREFLY on Fox in 2002. The network pulled the show after only 11 episodes (obviously taking a cue from the Mensa candidates over at the SciFi network who cancelled FARSCAPE). But the show had already spawned a loyal fan base who called themselves "Browncoats." They recruited more devotees when the entire series was recently released on DVD and it was their passionate campaigning that helped get Joss Whedon a greenlight to bring his ragtag crew of space explorers to the big screen in SERENITY.
I havn't yet seen a single episode of FIREFLY (although I plan to order the DVD's this morning) but I saw SERENITY last night and I have to confess that I liked it better than all 3 of the most recent STAR WARS movies combined. Captain Mal Reynolds seems to be a combination of Captain Kirk, Han Solo, and that wisecracking pilot from your last Southwest flight. (Ya gotta love a captain who picks up the mic and announces, "We may experience some slight turbulence...and explode" and a crew member that whines back at him, "But I don't WANT to explode!") His crew members all had distinct personalities and you truly believed that they were as devoted to each other as they were to their battle-scarred ship. The movie had the best futuristic dialogue I've heard since MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME. The music worked for me, the visuals worked, and all of those thrilling episodes of derring do were deftly mixed with the wonderful touches of humor and humanity that are Joss Whedon's trademark as a writer.
If you enjoy space opera, if you enjoy a good western, if you simply enjoy interesting characters doing interesting things while tossing off genuinely amusing wisecracks, then you should probably find some SERENITY now!