Whedon's `Serenity' is fun

MovieReview B

September 30, 2005|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Transferring a show from TV to movie screens is a risky proposition. Spend too much time introducing characters and mythology and alienate the show's fans, who already know this stuff. But assume too much existing knowledge and people new to the franchise will leave theaters confused.

Joss Whedon's Serenity faces just such a disadvantage - despite the cult following of its TV predecessor, Fox's 2002-2003 Firefly. It's a challenge it never entirely overcomes.

Firefly, set 500 years in the future, follows a group of freedom fighters rebelling against an interplanetary federation known as the Alliance. The rebel leader is the roguish Capt. Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), and his ship is the Serenity. The rebels rob and otherwise bedevil their would-be dominators at every turn.

Serenity, the film, continues the story as the rebels picked up a psychic named River (Summer Glau). The Alliance wants River dead; for reasons only he understands, Reynolds insists on protecting her, even though it puts his crew at considerable risk.

The biggest thing Serenity has going for it is Whedon, the brains behind TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not only is he a master of the off-handed quip, but he understands group dynamics and camaraderie.

Serenity may be short on exposition, but it's smart and fun.

Review: B

`2046': B-

Wong Kar Wai's 2046 is a nearly impenetrable enigma. Is it a continuation of his last film, 2001's In the Mood for Love? An exploration of Wong's creative process? A rumination on the unattainability of happiness? A speculation on the future of Wong's native Hong Kong? Perhaps it's all of these things, or none. It proudly defies categorization.

Tony Leung, star of In the Mood for Love, returns as Chow Mo Wan. Once again, Chow is determinedly unlucky in love, alternately unwilling or unable to commit to any one woman. Among his emotional disconnects this time are Ziyi Zhang, as a prostitute whose feelings for Chow refuse to remain stable.

The film is the work of a visual genius who may have overextended his storytelling ability, but with fascinating results.

Review B-

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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