When I read that Serenity is “a daringly original, sexy, stylized thriller,” starring Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, I moved it to the top of my movie list.
Then I noticed its scores on Rotten Tomatoes: 22% critics; 31% audience. Ouch! But I’ve learned to read the quotations from top critics on RT.
It seems Serenity has a problem with its twist, which is a revelation of something previously only hinted at. This new information changes the meaning of everything you’ve seen so far.
Several critics say the twist which comes about halfway through Serenity only makes the movie more confusing. Others say the entire movie makes no sense.
And yet, the minority of critics who like the movie write for the L. A. Times, The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, and The Globe and Mail---credible sources.
And they say things like, “One of the most ambitious, one of the most challenging - and one of the most entertaining thrillers in recent years” (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times).
How could a few top critics think so highly of a film most others describe as nonsense?
To begin with, the craft in this film---acting, design, directing, writing---is all top notch. It’s a quality film.
If you accept the twist, it’s a brilliant film; if not, you’re disappointed. And, of course, as in all thrillers, I can’t discuss the twist without spoiling it for you.
But I will say this: if you go to see it, notice how little difference the twist makes. In a plot borrowed from Double Indemnity, it’s not surprising to hear characters talk about “what game we’re playing,” and how, “the rules have changed.”
The twist gives these metaphors a new meaning, but the original meanings still apply.
I agree with Katie Walsh, L. A. Times, “The off-kilter, colorful, cartoonish fantasy of "Serenity" is just so odd and appealing that you want to spend time with the characters . . . in this crazy, upside-down world.”