Serenity appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. From start to finish, this was a fine transfer.
I noticed no problems with sharpness. If any softness occurred, I couldn’t see it. Instead, the film always looked well-defined and crisp. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering popped up, and I witnessed no edge enhancement. In addition, print flaws remained absent.
Much of the film favored a restricted palette that either went with a bluish tint or an earthy tone. Both worked fine for the content, and the DVD depicted them with richness and accuracy. Blacks seemed firm and deep, while low-light shots were smooth and concise. Overall, the film presented terrific visuals.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Serenity was even stronger. I expected a lively soundfield from this sort of movie, and that’s what I got. The mix used all five channels actively throughout the flick, and it brought the visuals to life. Elements emanated from everywhere in the spectrum and blended together smoothly. Battle sequences were the most effective, as anything that involved flying craft created an impressive setting. Other moments were solid as well, however, and the entire package combined to form a rich environment that engulfed us.
Audio quality also seemed good. Speech was natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems. Music sounded bold and dynamic, while effects soared. Those elements always appeared accurate and vivid. They suffered from no distortion and offered excellent bass response. Low-end was tight and deep. This was a superior soundtrack.
Heading to the DVD’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Joss Whedon. He provides a running, screen-specific chat that covers lots of good information. Whedon gets into adapting the TV series and script/story issues, cast and characters, effects, cinematography and visuals, sets and design, stunts and fight scenes, and general notes.
Whedon infuses the track with a nice sense of humor and even lets us know some of their goofs. He digs into his movie well in this informative piece. Consistently interesting and enlightening, Whedon presents a terrific commentary.
Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 14 minutes, 39 seconds. A fair number of these fall into the category of extended sequences, and some simply contribute a little extra exposition. We learn more about Inara as well as how the Operative found her; those are the most valuable added moments.
We can view these with or without commentary from Whedon. As with his main track, Whedon continues to give us good notes. He tells us background about the scenes and why he cut them. The commentary merits a listen.
A collection of Outtakes runs six minutes and four seconds. I thought this might include some small deleted snippets, but unfortunately, it offers nothing more than bloopers. I don’t find any of them to be particularly memorable or unusual.
Three featurettes follow. Future History: The Story Of Earth That Was goes for four minutes and 32 seconds. It shows movie clips and remarks from Whedon. He tells us a little about the origins of Firefly and then provides a quick history of the worlds it depicts. This is probably old news for fans of the series, but newbies will like it and might want to watch it before they check out Serenity.
Odd subtitle note: due to Whedon’s pronunciation, the person who transcribed his remarks misheard “Millenium Falcon” and wrote “Millenium Vulcan”. Or perhaps Whedon just really wants to create a Star Wars/Star Trek hybrid.
During What’s In a Firefly, we hear from Whedon, executive producers Christopher Buchanan and Alisa Tager, CG supervisor Emil Smith, producer Barry Mendel, and visual effects supervisors Loni Peristere and Bud Myrick. In the six-minute and 33-second piece, we get notes about the flick’s visual effects. It rushes through these quickly and lacks much detail, but it gives us a decent overview of the work done for the movie.
For the last featurette, we get Re-Lighting the Firefly. This nine-minute and 41-second program offers info from Whedon, Buchanan, actors Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Ron Glass, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin. We hear about Firefly’s cancellation and all the work put into bringing it back to life. The program becomes a bit self-congratulatory, but it gives us some decent background.
In an odd twist, the DVD ends with an Introduction from Whedon. He chats for three minutes and 54 seconds. Created for preview screenings, Whedon discusses the background of the TV series and its resurrection as a movie. Though it repeats information from the last featurette, it acts as a decent historical artifact.
The Firefly TV series died an early death, but it earned a big-screen revival with Serenity. Based on what I saw here, it deserved that second chance. Exciting, quirky and involving, the movie works well. The DVD offers excellent picture and audio along with a smattering of extras highlighted by a terrific commentary. Whether or not you saw Firefly, you definitely should give Serenity a look.