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SERENITY

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"You've got a theater full of angry geeks here," an audience member shouted when the film broke during Serenity's sneak preview. Indeed, the film -- based on the short-lived TV series Firefly -- comes with a built-in following. Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, Serenity should satisfy diehards and casual sci-fi fans alike. Led by their captain, Mal (Nathan Fillion), the crew of the Serenity probes the secret carried by fugitive passenger, River (Summer Glau), who boasts superhuman powers. While dodging a murderous government agent and rapacious "reivers," the Serenity discovers truths that could bring down their vaguely oppressive rulers. Whedon's sprightly script and direction lend the cast an amusing rapport, peppered with solid but unspectacular special effects and dizzying martial-arts sequences. In the end, River's secret proves somewhat predictable, but Serenity is the kind of well-made serial sci-fi actioner they don't make anymore ... and didn't make enough of even then. (CP)

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