Firefly: Space Cowboys Worth the Ride

By Makayla Cisneros on December 29, 2012

When it comes to lost art forms, western-style movies have given way to the technological and space oriented era of man-kind. Western style shows and movies have all but surrendered their place in the film world. Has the classic western standoff had to tip its hat to computer generated action explosions or has it been replaced by fired missiles in space nebulas at hyper speed? The western world just can’t compare to movies that can use computer generated programs to make bullets shoot out of guns, rip through flesh, and gush blood.

However, similar to how the western and space world met with the Pixar characters Woody and Buzz’s unlikely friendship, so was a popular series Firefly born. This series takes common elements of westerns; drifters and outcasts help out small towns with problems. These odd jobs include issues with outlaws and dodging bounty hunters however, rather than take place on a range it is in a space setting.

The show focuses on a single crew of random drifters, two ex-veterans, a farm-girl mechanic, a gun nut, and their two fugitives: Simon and River, a med student and his slightly deranged, semi-psychic sister. They travel on a “firefly model”  space ship, Serenity, throughout the vast solar system discovered in the near future. They duck the Alliance authority of the central planets and help those in need, earning a little money along the way.

Each character in the series is mysterious in their back stories, especially their two newest members Simon and River, who are on the run from the government for reasons unknown. Firefly tells many suspenseful situations such as being held at gunpoint and kidnapped and other such no-win situations that their captain, Mal, a veteran of war antihero, guides them out of.

The series, despite the cult following, only lasted one season. However, the solo-season of 14 episodes leads up to a movie called Serenity, which is a strong and elegant film, giving the short series the send-off it deserves. The effects in the movie are fantastic, giving the space and ground fights realistic action and inviting the audience in. While the main plot of the movie, like much of the series, is surrounded around protecting River, the crazy young fugitive. The main character of the movie is the captain Mal, and his decisions as a captain to charge into the belly of the beast that is the Alliance drives the story. There is also a deep connection between Mal and the antagonist, a nameless agent of the Alliance. The complex connection of this antagonist and Mal adds the  element of the western themed standoff. This intimate villain and hero relationship is notorious in western movies. The themes of belief and taking a stand in the movie bring out the most admirable qualities of each character.

The effects, the themes, suspense and the western themes in a space setting make this short series and movie definite must-sees for a deep story. The characters are beautifully crafted with strong values and depth that brings the Firefly’s crew to life.  The down and dirty, down-to-earth, feel of the direction in the movie and series allows the audience to focus on the story while giving them a good time in these combined themes.

My name is Makayla and I'm a current Sophomore at the University of Denver and an aspiring writer. I enjoy playing sports, reading and writing.

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