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    Stars:Nathan Fillon, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, Chiwetel Ejiofor

    "Are you in labor?" I asked my wife as we backed out of the driveway.
    "If you were, would you tell me?"
    She smiled. "No."

    See, we were on our way to the day's first showing of Serenity, a movie based on an obscure and short-lived TV show. In its short life, though, Firefly became my wife's favorite TV show of all time. It ranks about second for me. It was grossly mishandled by Fox, and we knew it wasn't long for this world. Then came word Universal had green-lighted a movie based on the TV show, set to open April of 2005, and we were happy. Then we became pregnant, and we were happier. Then the movie got pushed back to the end of September, one day after our baby's due date, and we were crying foul.

    We begged our unborn child to stay, well, unborn until we were able to see Serenity. Not to take any chances, I took opening day off from work so that we could see the movie as soon as possible. I was unexpectedly nervous driving to the theater, but felt a little better after we successfully purchased our tickets. Waiting a half-hour in our seats was painful, not because of worry of anticipation, but instead because of the craptastic music they were pumping through. Not until the Serenity title appeared on the screen did I breathe a sigh of relief. We were here, we were watching the movie we had waited three years to see, and we were still really quite pregnant.

    It's always quite a task to bring a TV show to the big screen (successfully, I hasten to add). Most such conversions suck, the X-Files movie was OK, but one thing all these movies had in common was established brand recognition. How could Joss Whedon, creator of Serenity (along with some show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of which I've seen a couple episodes), be successful in translating a TV show with only a small (devoted and energetic, but still relatively small) cult following into a movie that would please both existing fans and newcomers? I mean, the premise of the show isn't entirely common, with a (logical) melding of high-tech and Old West, of English and Chinese languages, of good guys who are bad guys. Would Serenity end up feeling like a two-hour TV show that nobody but the most devoted fans would "get?" Not so much.

    While watching the movie unfold before me, I remember thinking how approachable this movie would be to casual fans of Firefly as well as those who have never even heard of the show. I honestly can't say the entire movie was just as approachable, because I was far too involved with the movie to care what others thought.

    Serenity isn't all that serene. On the contrary, this movie is intense. It might even be exhausting if it weren't so riveting. Joss Whedon said this was the hardest script he's ever written, but the story never feels contrived. The plot was surprisingly in-depth, with more surprises than I expected. It was funny, really quite funny at times like the TV show was, but also emotional and, as I said before, intense.

    The special effects were outstanding, but then again, they were top-notch in Firefly, too. I've seen bigger-budget movies with far worse special effects, no doubt. But as everyone who has seen The Hulk knows, throwing money at a movie does not make it good. Take a cast of diverse and interesting characters, though, put them in a great story, surrounded by... You know, I'm not going to over-analyze this movie, as I've done so many times before. Serenity is what it is, which is to say, one of the best damn movies I've ever seen. As a whole, it's quite unlike anything else out there, which is a true rarity in these days of formulaic, cookie-cutter blockbusters.

    Instead of focusing on what others might think when watching Serenity, when I found I was able to pull my thoughts away from the movie for a brief moment, I could only think, "this movie is incredible."

    My wife is now free to go into labor at any time. She's happy our unborn daughter gave her the opportunity to see Serenity. So am I.

    This may be the last movie review I write. I used to pen so many, but the frequency of my reviews has dwindled to laughable levels. I can see no better way to bow out than with Serenity.