If you've never seen episodes of the short-lived TV show Firefly, don't fret. The reviews of Joss Whedon's Serenity prove that you didn't have to watch the TV show to love the movie.

Firefly fans finally got satisfaction after spending three years bemoaning the premature cancellation of their favorite show. Universal Pictures gave writer/director Whedon the resources to bring some closure to his exciting, breathlessly entertaining "space Western," and he turned it into a film that has fans cheering and critics raving … even those who went in skeptical.

These big screen newcomers are earning better reviews than the blockbuster conclusion of the Star Wars saga that came out earlier this year. Sure, Serenity owes a great debt to George Lucas's inventions, as well as to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek and to classic Westerns like Stagecoach. But it has wit and wisdom all its own.

Let's start with the reactions of two critics: a Firefly fan—Todd Hertz of Christianity Today Movies—and someone who's never seen the television series.

Hertz (Christianity Today Movies) says Serenity is "excitingly tense, often surprising and even more frequently comical. … Fans will rejoice. There are moments of laughing out loud, of tearing up, of spine-tingles, and of outright shock." He also thinks the film will appeal to newbies: "The story is well explained and complete. The special effects are spot-on. The action is well done and the pace is fast moving and relentless. While pleasing fans, Serenity is also a solid sci-fi film that stands on its own. But still, non-fans may at times feel like they're viewing a season finale without having seen the rest of the season—not because they won't get the story but because they ...

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