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Movie Review: Serenity vs Star Wars

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Even though there are legions of Star Wars fans out there who will say that their film can’t be compared to anything that’s just not true of Serenity. It exists in exactly the same film universe of the film that broke it all open 28 years ago.


"Both of these evil empires drive me up the wall…"

Think about it. In both films, you have a crew that plays basically on the fringes of society in their space universe. And, in both cases, there is a governmental power that is corrupt that the lead characters are in rebellion against. And, in both, there is a captain of the ship — "Mal" Reynolds in Serenity and Han Solo in Star Wars — who both pretend to be apolitical but can be counted on to stand up for what’s right when the chips are down.

Star Wars, back in 1977, was completely, wonderfully unique. That has to be remembered even though, for me, the magic has long since gone and I’ve grown a little tired of the franchise. SerenityStar Wars being a neighbor and the TV show, Firefly, on which it is a feature-length extension. is the new kid on the block, yes, but even that block is based on

Laying down all my cards here, I have to say I enjoyed Serenity a whole lot more than the last version of Star Wars (which was the sixth film but the third in the series which still sounds confusing). Mal seems like a more reasonable captain and when the bad guy asks him if he is prepared to die and he answers, "I am", there’s no false bravado, he’s just stating a fact. All the characters in Serenity work better for me. I like they way they’re written, the way they’re acted and the world they inhabit.  And yet…

Star Wars. Because it blew me away when it first came out and it made the world safe for Serenity to be made. No matter where the franchise went, it remains the undisputed heavyweight champion of the universe.


Movies_squared_3Movies-Squared (Two Reviews for the Price of One!) reviews one film out in the theaters today by comparing it to a related film out on DVD — and declares a winner.  The connection might be subject matter, director, actor, whatever…

Bryce Zabel is a working screenwriter/producer whose current credits include The Poseidon Adventure and Blackbeard.   He was chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from 2001-2003.  He maintains two other blogs:  his flagship News! — Views! — & Schmooze! and Instant History.

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  • I agree, you pointed out some shiny stuff there.

    There are some things that are similar–Mal being like Han Solo (does this mean we could compare Jayne to Chewbacca? just kidding, Jayne’s cool)… But it’s different enough, because Serenity is mainly about the Han Solo type, and Star wars is about Luke.

    I was also disappointed with star wars 1, 2, and 3. Yes, the new ones had higher-tech special effects, but it sometimes distracted from the story.

    I’m not sure it’s “Serenity vs. Star Wars” I think it’s just two stories that are both good, and different enough that it’s a good use of your time to watch both 🙂

  • William Reed

    I’m sorry, but how is a world WITHOUT aliens less realistic than a universe WITH aliens? That makes no sense.

    I like movies with aliens races, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Serenity is better because there are no aliens; it’s better for so many other reasons: plot, humor, suspense, characterization, to name a few.

    But the argument that it’s “kind of unrealistic in the sense that there aren’t many – or no – aliens in it” is nonsense.

  • The Firefly universe is kind of unrealistic in the sense that there aren’t many – or no – aliens in it. This coming from someone who has only seen half of the series’ episodes… I might be wrong.

  • Maxwell

    There are films that can be compared to Star Wars. The problem was they were so poorly make nobody remembers them. Serenity doesn’t exist in the same universe as Star Wars. There is supernatural flavor to Star War that Serenity doesn’t have. Serenity is not loaded with scientific riddles like Star Trek, but it still fits the mold of a Science Fiction movie that is more in the lines with Aliens.

    It pains me to say it, because I was excepting so much more from the new Star Wars films, but Serenity is a better told story. Like “SW: A New Hope” it starts up when things are happening and keeps moving. In a interview George Lucas said he make a decision to tell 2/3 of the prequel story in the last movie. This was clearly a mistake. Over the years I have seen plenty of “Industrial Light & Magic” wasted on inferior movie. I never thought one of those movies would be Star Wars.