Posts Tagged ‘Joss Whedon’

Avengers Age of Ultron (2015)

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård

Watching the trailers attached to this movie, the one which struck me as being particularly relevant was the one for “Terminator: Genisys” (I truly wish it were a typo). Both the “Terminator” franchise and “Age of Ultron” deal with an artificial intelligence designed as a peace-keeping force which, almost immediately upon its activation, selects the entire human race for extinction. Both Ultron and SkyNet find ways to evolve their original programming in order to make things that much more difficult for us. Because they begin their plot of mass genocide in their respective early stages of existence, the two A.I.’s can each be accused of behaving like children: erratic, insolent, illogical and, most of all, emotional. The one thing they fear the most is their own death. Had the Terminators come up against the likes of the Avengers, I doubt there would have been room for three sequels and a reboot. Thankfully, there’s a lot more going on here than just the story of Man endangering his future by trying to save it.

As the movie begins, we join our heroes mid-mission, in a very James Bond-like opening that sees them storming the fortress of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. Of course, Strucker is hardly a match for Earth’s mightiest. He knows this, which is why the HYDRA agent has been running experiments designed to create super-powered beings. To achieve this, he uses Loki’s scepter, left behind in the rubble at the Battle of New York. Of his test subjects, only the Maximoff twins, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), who volunteered for the procedure have actually survived. Wanda has the power of telekinesis/mind-manipulation and can generate powerful bursts of energy to hurl at enemies, whereas Pietro runs at speeds faster than the blink of an eye. They’re not interested in Strucker’s plans, as they have their own score to settle with one Avenger in particular. It seems the Maximoff home in the Eastern European country of Sokovia was destroyed some years ago by weapons designed by Stark Industries, making orphans of the Twins. Although the Avengers retrieve the scepter, Wanda plants the seeds of their potential doom inside Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)’s head.

Looking for a way to both keep the world safe and to allow for he and his friends to retire, Tony is about to take the next technological leap. Describing it as an “iron suit around the world,” Tony enlists the aid of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in designing the ultimate peace-keeping force, Ultron (James Spader). Making use of Loki’s scepter, they do this without consultation from the other four Avengers. It’s the age-old tale of doing something without stopping to consider whether or not you should. At a party in the Avengers Tower, following an amusing moment where all of the mortal men in the group try their best to lift Thor’s hammer, Ultron first makes his presence felt, disabling the J.A.R.V.I.S. program (which he perceives as a personal threat) and declaring himself free of his puppet strings.

Making off with Loki’s scepter, Ultron gathers supplies, stopping at Strucker’s base in Sokovia to make upgrades to his armor and at an African shipyard where he can obtain the Earth’s rarest metal, vibranium, which will play a part in his endgame. Ultron and the Twins are confronted by the Avengers, but Wanda’s mind tricks affect each member of the team on a deep and personal level. Bruce Banner is so affected that he turns into the Hulk and levels an entire town. Tony uses a special suit of armor designed for just such a contingency to subdue the Hulk, but the damage has been done. News of the Hulk’s warpath has gone global, and the Avengers avoid the resulting backlash by going into hiding at the family home of team member Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), a married father of two with one more on the way.

Once at the Barton farm, the nature of the relationships of the various team members becomes evident. In particular, the clashing ideologies of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans) are pushed even further into the light (and serve as a set-up for the next “Captain America” movie), while Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner acknowledge a growing attraction between them. Natasha sees in Bruce the same fractured soul that lies within her. Each of them has been spending a great deal of time trying to repair damage done to them in their respective pasts. They are both “monsters” in their own way. They talk of leaving together after Ultron is defeated.

A turning point occurs when Ultron is in the early stages of uploading himself into his intended final body. Realizing that the A.I.’s deadly goals extend beyond the mere extinguishing of the Avengers, Wanda and Pietro abandon Ultron and side with their former foes. Acquiring the android body which Ultron meant for himself, Tony uploads the once-believed destroyed J.A.R.V.I.S. program into it, while Thor (Chris Hemsworth) lends a jolt of electricity to help bring the android to life. It appears that, all along, Loki’s scepter had been powered by one of the six Infinity Stones (four of which we’ve seen up to this point), which is now fitted on the brow of the newly birthed Vision (Paul Bettany), a creature whose temperment and philosophy run in stark contrast to that of Ultron. The Vision is so incorruptible in fact that he can lift Thor’s hammer, a feat once thought possible only for the God of Thunder himself. Along with the Vision and the Maximoffs, the Avengers (minus Natasha, who is in Ultron’s clutches) gather together for one final confrontation with Ultron in Sokovia, where they mean to save the entire planet.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Avengers movie if there weren’t someone or something that needed avenging. The movie is not casualty-free, but that does not keep it from having many lighthearted, laugh-out-loud moments. There are several running gags. One of these involves the group taking every opportunity they can to poke fun at their leader, Captain America, for having earlier objected to Tony’s use of foul language. Moments like this are vintage Joss Whedon, who also brilliantly wrote/directed the first “Avengers.” The six actors who made the first film so much fun are all back and in top form. Some who got a little short-changed last time (Jeremy Renner!) are thankfully given more to do in “Age of Ultron.” Of course, Robert Downey Jr. is still the man! Among the newly added characters, my favorite is undoubtedly Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff, although I also look forward to more from Paul Bettany’s Vision. Special kudos also goes to James Spader, always great at what he does, proving it once again as the menacing machine-gone-wrong, Ultron. Some of Marvel’s villains have been weak, but Spader isn’t one of them.

For right now, I’m still more fond of the first “Avengers,” though that could be due to the fact that I’ve seen it several times in the last three years. Like many of the previous Marvel Comics Universe films, I expect that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” will play better on the small screen, when I’m not distracted by fellow audience members and can better focus on the action. There’s so much happening that you’re bound to miss something just by staring at the wrong part of the screen. Nonetheless, I found myself very entertained. The best of intentions sometimes results in disaster, but thankfully this is not true in the case of “Age of Ultron.”

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

Director: Fran Rubel Kazui

Starring: Kristy Swanson. Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer, Luke Perry

With the recent explosion in popularity of the superhero genre, much has been made of the fact that Iron Man, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America, etc. are all male. Sure, there have been some attempts at comic book movies with females in the lead, but that’s where you get Halle Berry’s “Catwoman” and Jennifer Garner as “Elektra.” Those debacles are no doubt as much of a reason as any as to why there hasn’t been a “Wonder Woman” solo movie yet. (She’s set to appear as a secondary character in “Batman vs. Superman.”) Still, the genre, however slanted towards the Y chromosome it may be, is enjoying a level of success it could not have dreamed possible only a few years ago. What might be lost on some people is that Joss Whedon, director of Marvel’s “The Avengers” and the soon-to-be-released “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” was the man responsible for creating one of the greatest female superheroes of all-time.

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) would seem on the surface to be your typical, self-absorbed California high school rich girl. Her ambitions consist of things like graduating, moving to Europe, marrying actor Christian Slater and then, once all that’s accomplished, dying. Lofty goals, I must say. But, despite her lack of vision for her future advancement, Buffy’s destiny is already predetermined. She is the latest in a long line of young women gifted (or cursed, depending on one’s perspective) with the powers of a Vampire Slayer. What became of the Slayers who came before Buffy? Right, well, that’s the catch. A new Slayer only emerges after the previous one has died. Thus, like with Highlanders, “there can be only one.”

Until Merrick (Donald Sutherland) shows up to fill Buffy in on all of this, she remains oblivious to the evil descending upon Los Angeles. She’s still unconvinced until he describes with alarming detail the nightmares she’s been having lately. A visit to the cemetery to put to rest the fresh corpses which are rising from their graves lets Buffy know that this is, like, for real. The main threat she’ll have to contend with comes from Lothos (Rutger Hauer) and his henchman, Amilyn, a.k.a. ‘Lefty’ (Paul Reubens). Lothos has a history with the Slayer lineage, having personally killed several of them. But Buffy has something those other girls didn’t have: Companions. In addition to Merrick, Buffy also finds a friend …and possibly something more… in Pike (Luke Perry), the boy she and the vapid members of her high school clique had dissed earlier.

Although a quick glance at the credits for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will show that this movie was directed by Fran Rubel Kazui, it is screenwriter Joss Whedon who is the true brains behind the operation. And still, the movie does not quite meet with Whedon’s original vision. Its theme of female empowerment gets more than a little distorted by the fact that the finished product is campy in the extreme. It’s impossible now to consider the merits of this movie without keeping the TV series in mind. I’ve seen many great movies which were turned into terrible TV shows, but I can only think of a handful of movies which were outdone in almost every way by their small screen successor. The two that come to mind most often are “M*A*S*H*” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The two series don’t have much in common, except that each was long-lived, each has a devoted fan following to this day, each tackled very serious topics… and, oh yeah… both of the original movies starred Donald Sutherland. I’ll get to him in just a moment.

The uneven cast in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a problem. Some people will tell you that Kristy Swanson was all wrong for the part of Buffy. Her only crime is that she’s not Sarah Michelle Gellar. Oddly enough, sometimes when Swanson would speak I found myself hearing her TV counterpart. Given time, Swanson might have become as comfortable in the role as Gellar later was. Otherwise, she’s just fine. It’s virtually everyone else that drags this thing down. The villains suck, and not in the vampire way. You really have to make an effort to keep Paul Reubens… best known to the world as Pee-Wee Herman… from being funny, but that’s what they did. Almost every line he has falls flat. His death scene, prolonged for comic effect, is a total yawner. Even worse is Rutger Hauer. Here is a guy who can make you hang on his every word, and give life to some of the greatest bad guys you’ll ever see, and all I get from Lothos is how terrible his mustache looks. That’s how ineffective he is.

Luke Perry is harmless enough as Buffy’s friend Pike, but I can only assume his inclusion is based solely on his popularity from “Beverly Hills, 90210.” The supporting cast is surprisingly full of familiar faces. There’s two-time Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank playing one of Buffy’s rich girl friends. Probably the dumbest of the bunch. Well acted, especially if the intent was for the character to get under my skin. There’s David Arquette being David Arquette. Don’t think I need to say more than that. Also look fast for Ben Affleck as a basketball player on the team playing against Buffy’s high school.

Much more complicated is Donald Sutherland’s contribution to the film. On-screen, as Merrick, Sutherland delivers his typical performance. Nothing standout but not horrific either, at least not until you really start to listen to his dialogue and realize that most of it doesn’t make much sense. This is because Sutherland took it upon himself to improvise and rewrite most of his lines to his own liking, and at the expense of Joss Whedon’s script. He was reportedly so hard to work with that Whedon still refers to Sutherland as a “dick.” Seeing as how Whedon’s grudges are not my grudges, I can’t grade him based on behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Sutherland and Swanson have good chemistry, so at least there’s that.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is an incomplete work, however one that is a little bit better than I had remembered. When I saw this originally, I had disliked it to the point that it was the chief reason why I avoided the TV series until it was almost done with its first run. As it turns out, the movie is at least better than the abysmal seventh season of the TV show. It isn’t what its creator had in mind, but it does make me want to revisit the first six seasons of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on DVD, and that’s as close to a seal of approval as I can muster.

The Body

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 5, Ep. 16, “The Body”

Original Air Date: February 27, 2001

Rare are the opportunities in life for one to experience a true epiphany. One such opportunity came to me in early 2002. As I often do, I was channel surfing one day when I stopped on an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” which as it happens had begun only a few seconds earlier. That episode was “The Body.” If you’re at all knowledgeable about this TV series, then you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute! You mean to say that ‘The Body’ was your introduction to ‘Buffy’?!” As a matter of fact, I do. Like I suspect many have done either because of the show’s bizzare-sounding name, or because the subject matter is unappealing, I had ignored Joss Whedon’s first major breakthrough in TV until it was well into the sixth of its seven seasons. Fortunately for me, FX was airing the reruns, so I was able to play catch-up within a few months. Had Netflix been around back then, I would have only needed a week or two. I wouldn’t find out until later, but “The Body” is perhaps the most atypical episode this series ever produced.

Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) comes home one day to find her mother, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) sprawled out on the couch, unresponsive and with eyes wide open, staring at nothing. Buffy’s reaction is the same as anyone else’s would be: She dials 9-1-1 and tries to perform CPR. During this whole scene, including when the paramedics arrive and fail in their attempt to revive Buffy’s mom, the camera reflects the frantic and futile nature of the situation, tracking Buffy’s movements through the house, zooming in on various shots, choosing to focus only on the paramedic’s lips (as Buffy would be) as he delivers the bad news. As they are called elsewhere, Buffy (who by this time is emotionally shut down) wishes them good luck.

We stay with Buffy as she waits for Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) to arrive. She vomits on the floor, and then one of the more perfectly shot moments of the episode takes place. As Buffy opens the back door, her face is lit up by the sun and you can hear wind chimes, children playing and someone practicing on their trumpet. What this scene is telling us is that death occurs, and yet life moves on. Buffy still has yet to have any sort of reaction apart from losing the food in her stomach until Giles shows up and sees Joyce’s body. She shocks even herself when she blurts out the words, “We’re not supposed to move the body!”

Buffy’s next charge is to have to go to her sister’s school and inform Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). She’d rather face a cadre of vampires than have to do this. At that time, Dawn is only concerned with the bitchy girl in the class spreading lies about her, unaware of the tragedy that has taken place that morning. Buffy wants to go somewhere private because she knows her sister and how she’ll react. The camera shifts from out in the hall to back inside the classroom. We stand with her teacher and classmates, watching with sympathy as Dawn collapses to the floor in tears.

In the dormitory room of Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), one of Buffy’s two best friends in the whole world, we get another truly fantastic scene. Willow, in her grief, is rifling through her entire wardrobe trying to find a blue shirt that she says Joyce liked. She’s upset with herself for not having enough “grown-up” clothing. This was said to be the hardest scene for writer/director Joss Whedon to film, as it was based on his own difficulties in choosing the right tie to wear to a friend’s funeral. Understated because it was not meant to be the focus of this episode is the fact that “The Body” marks the first time that Willow and girlfriend Tara (Amber Benson) kiss on-screen. It’s less passionate and more comforting, and that’s probably the only way it got by the censors… the same ones who wouldn’t bat an eye at this display of affection today. If only everyone were so tolerant.

Buffy’s other best friend, Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) shows up at the dorm with his girlfriend, the formerly immortal demon-turned mortal human Anya (Emma Caulfield). Xander takes the typical male approach of expressing his grief through anger, first by vowing vengeance against Glory (the main villain of Season Five), and then blaming the doctors who had removed a tumor from Joyce’s brain earlier that year. You know that moment of pure frustration where you just feel like putting your fist through a wall? Xander actually does this, not through some sort of superhuman strength (that’s Buffy’s angle) but because of some rather shoddy plasterboard material.

The surprise of this scene comes just before Xander decides to blame the wall. It’s when Anya is asking seemingly horrible questions (“Are we going to be in the room with the body?” “Are they going to cut the body open?”) Being new to this whole mortality gig, Anya doesn’t know how she’s supposed to act in a situation like this. She doesn’t understand why Joyce can’t just stop being dead. Human death makes no sense to her at all, and it’s tearing her up inside. She’s already learning what it is to be human, and doesn’t even realize it. This was actress Emma Caulfield’s finest bit of acting in any of her episodes.

So abnormal was this episode that, looking back, it’s amazing to me that it’s the one that first got me interested in watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which since grew into one of my favorite TV shows, if not my #1. One of the greatest choices Joss Whedon made was to film this episode without any music (except for the opening/closing credits theme). Had there been any hint of a soundtrack, it would only have served as a distraction. We don’t need music to tell us how to feel about the topic of death in the family. For Buffy and friends, this was brand new territory. For almost five years, they had fought and survived countless battles with vampires, demons and other creatures of evil. During that time, many fellow students, teachers and even friends had fallen victim, but it wasn’t until the death of Joyce that they felt completely helpless. Here Buffy was this young woman imbued with the strength to fight any enemy in her path, and she can’t even save her own mother from the natural conclusion of life. There were so many great episodes this show came up with, but none so easily relatable, none so grounded in reality, and none more well-written in the history of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Jillian Morgese

All over the world, friends gather together for special events. Maybe it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Perhaps your favorite TV show is running a marathon. Who knows… The occasion could be a poetry reading. If you’re really confident and adventerous, you may bring a film camera along to really capture the moment. If, like Joss Whedon, your circle of friends is a very tight-knit group, and you have the equipment available, why not make a movie together? Especially if the subject is Shakespeare.

Remakes tend to promote the image of creative bankruptcy, but in the world of the stage play, everything is fair game to be done over and over again, with different casts in different eras. So too it is with their film adaptations. Everybody has their favorite cinematic versions of “Romeo & Juliet,” “Hamlet,” or “Othello,” among others. Which one it is quite largely will depend on which generation you ask. Up until now, most had probably only been aware of the 1993 “Much Ado About Nothing,” directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh. Working with a considerably smaller budget, Joss Whedon makes two clever cost-cutting decisions. First, his “Much Ado About Nothing” is shot entirely in black and white and, second, Whedon bypasses the need for studio sets and Italian location shots by setting up the cameras inside and outside of his own home in Santa Monica, California.

As the movie begins, both Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) act abrasively towards one another. Although both are completely oblivious, everyone around them can see as clear as day that each loves the other, and they do everything they can to plant the seeds for these two to find their way into each others’ hearts. Conspiracy is the name of the game. An evil force who goes by the name of Don John (Sean Maher) sees the intentions of the young Claudio (Fran Kranz) to marry Hero (Jillian Morgese), and hatches a dastardly plan to trick Claudio, sully the good name of Hero, and shame her father Leonato (Clark Gregg), the Governor of Messina. It is a common theme in the works of both William Shakespeare and of Joss Whedon that the bliss of romance is often fleeting, sometimes meeting an abrupt and deadly end. There is much that is uncommon about “Much Ado.”

Shakespeare can sometimes be difficult to follow, so it helps when you are familiar with the original material. Being familiar with the cast helps, too. I performed in a high school production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” and I am probably just as familiar with it as any of Shakespeare’s plays. I’m also well-versed in the works of Joss Whedon, having followed since the beginning, from the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series all the way to the present day with “The Avengers” and TV’s “Agents of SHIELD.” Whedon has acquired a lot of regulars, or actors with whom he works on a regular basis.

For the record, those from the “Much Ado” cast who appeared in one or more of Whedon’s prior TV series and films:

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – Alexis Denisof, Tom Lenk and Riki Lindhome

“Angel” – Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof

“Firefly” – Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher

“Dollhouse” – Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz and Ashley Johnson

“The Avengers” – Clark Gregg, Alexis Denisof, Romy Rosemont and Ashley Johnson

Denisof and Acker have played romantic interests before, on “Angel.” Although Benedick and Beatrice are quite different from the characters they played over a decade earlier, it is that prior experience that makes their chemistry here more than believable. Denisof in particular (although he may not be in the caliber of a Kenneth Branagh) gives a terrific, at times hilarious performance. Playing against type is Sean Maher, who is known mostly for his shy, good guy roles. He almost makes you forget that Keanu Reeves once featured as Don John. But of course, one cannot speak of the performances in Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” without mentioning Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. While it’s true that he’s basically playing the same kind of character as in “Firefly” …perhaps a bit smarter… he leaves no room for doubt that he plays it well, and pretty much steals the show for the small amount of time he’s onscreen.

It is admittedly tough for me to watch most Shakespeare adaptations which have been transported from their usual setting into the present day. They just look better, and feel more authentic, when presented as closely as possible to what the playwright intended. Some, like 1995’s “Richard III” are exceptions to the rule. Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” stands as another example, largely due to the novelty of filming it in the director’s own house. While in the middle of filming “The Avengers,” Whedon put this smaller-scale project together in just 12 days. The finished project does not in any way resemble that of a rush job. It is right up there among my favorite Shakespeare adaptations, and should be on anyone’s short-list of must-see movies.

22. Serenity (2005)

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin, Jewel Staite, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, Ron Glass, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Krumholtz, Sarah Paulson

In the autumn of 2002, a crime was committed by the Fox Television Network. These people had a potentially successful and long-running sci-fi series on their hands, and they botched the deal in every way possible. First, they promoted “Firefly” as a sci-fi comedy. The series had comedic elements, but that was merely one aspect of it. Second, they aired the episodes out of sequence. The pilot was aired last, and only after the show was already cancelled. Strike three was giving priority to Major League Baseball. When Fox aired baseball games in the timeslot otherwise belonging to “Firefly,” the show would sometimes go several weeks without a new episode, and viewers weren’t told when it would be back. Joss Whedon, whose two vampire TV shows ran for seven seasons and five seasons, respectively, saw perhaps his most creative project to date sink after just 11 episodes. Three more episodes remained unseen until the DVD release. But it was on home video where “Firefly” found its cult following. A demand from the fanbase for more was heard loud and clear. Thanks to a deal with Universal Studios, “Serenity” was born.

“Serenity” tells of the Alliance, a federation of worlds colonized by humans who left Earth due to overcrowding. The year is 2517, and all the worlds in Alliance territory are bilingual (English and Chinese). As with any society where those in power tell their citizens how to think and how to feel, there is resistance. The Independents (or “Browncoats” as they are more commonly referred) lost the war that ensued, but the battle was far from over. In the pilot to “Firefly,” the crew of the Serenity, led by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), happened across a brother and sister, Simon and River Tam (Sean Maher and Summer Glau), who were on the run from the Alliance because of some dark secret inside River’s mind. Now the plot moves to finding out what that secret is, and why the Alliance is so afraid of it.

The witty banter between the members of the crew is one of the main things that made the TV show so popular with its fans, especially from the greedy and opportunistic yet dimwitted Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin). That sense of humor, provided by writer/director Joss Whedon, is just as present here, even as the movie’s plot takes its darkest turn. It is also the main thing that got the TV show into trouble when the attempt was made by Fox to market it. When it came time for the movie three years later, Universal made the same mistake of focusing on the funny bits in the theatrical trailer. In reality, the movie has much deeper messages. First, “Can’t stop the signal,” the movie’s tagline, is a bit of a jab at Fox. Second is the angle of expressing the dangers of a government attempting to control the behavior of its population and that, in establishing this kind of order, all that is brought about is more chaos.

“Firefly” and “Serenity” were influenced by many different sources in science fiction. Among them, cases can be made for “Star Wars” (the young girl with information that can lead to the downfall of an evil regime & the love/hate relationship between Mal & Inara is like that of Han Solo & Princess Leia), “Blade Runner” (from which the world of Beaumont takes its visual cues), and most especially the BBC TV series “Blake’s 7” (which ran for four series from 1978 to 1981), of which the parallels are too many to count.

“Serenity” is not the first instance of a movie being made out of a cancelled TV series. In the early 1970’s, “Star Trek” found a following through reruns which it never experienced during its original three-season run from 1966 to 1969. The result of this worldwide attention would eventually amount to four other TV series and twelve movies (and counting). “Police Squad!” lasted a grand total of six episodes in 1982, yet became so popular that actor Leslie Nielsen was able to reprise his role of the bumbling detective Frank Drebin in three “Naked Gun” motion pictures. However, like “Firefly,” the movie “Serenity” did not attract a wide enough audience when it mattered most, failing to break even on its box office intake.

If one thing is for certain about the legacy of “Firefly”/”Serenity,” it is that the actors had as good a time making it as the fans do in watching it. Just watch any of the blooper reels and you’ll get a good sense of this. It can also be inferred by the numerous “Firefly” reunions the cast holds. They always seem to make the time to thank their fans, no matter what other projects they have lined up. Virtually all of the actors have been keeping busy in the years since. Nathan Fillion has played the role of mystery novelist Richard Castle on ABC’s detective series “Castle” for going on six seasons now. Morena Baccarin has had villainous roles in both “Stargate SG-1” and ABC’s short-lived reboot of “V.” Adam Baldwin had an important supporting role in NBC’s “Chuck” for the duration of its multi-season run. Alan Tudyk has had so many supporting roles in movies over the last eight years that it’s almost impossible for anyone not to have seen at least one of them.

I personally would have liked at least one more “Firefly” big screen adventure, if for no other reason than to see a return from one of Malcolm Reynolds’ nemeses from the show, such as Adelei Niska, the criminal kingpin with a penchant for torturing those who try to back out of a contract, or Saffron (Christina Hendricks of AMC’s “Mad Men”), the con artist/thief who tricked Mal into thinking he’d married her while intoxicated. As time marches on, the likelihood of this continues to diminish, but for those of us who consider ourselves passionate fans, the “signal” will never die.