Viewed – 23 May 2009  DVD

Joss Whedon in my opinion has no luck, well not since finishing twin TV hits Buffy and Angel.  His sci-fi adventure series firefly hit the skids a while back, and I hear his new baby Dollhouse is only getting luke warm reviews.  So lets have a look at something, critically at least he got right, in the movie spin-off from Firefly, that shows the promise TV execs sadly missed.

Nathan Fillion plays Hans Solo-like rogue space ship commander Mal who reluctantly lets a fugitive brother and sister, hide out among his crew of likable, larger than life characters.  Of course such hospitality comes at a price, and its the fact that the girl, River is secretly a telepathic, bio-engineered weapon, who has a tendency to kick off at the most unexpected time, dangering everyones life. 

Although played tongue in cheek, this still has plenty of heart and the brother & sister relationship is well handled and I did find myself caring for the poor girl who is barely able to control her abilities.  When River (Summer Glau) does let loose, it is a joy of acrobatic, balletic kung-fu glory that is stunning to watch, but sadly the film barely seems able to showcase the actresses obvious grace and showmanship in among space battles, one-liners and boo-hiss villainy.  Also at times the film fails to escape its TV routes and feels like a particularly good episode stretched out to two hours.  No bad thing in this day and age of glossy, Hollywood-quality television, but there is much potential here, and sometimes its overlooked in place of the next big special effect.  Of course, this still proves Joss Whedon as a director with obvious talent, so I eagerly await his next cinematic venture.

Verdict:  3 /5

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