Fandom is a wonderful thing.
Sci-fi fans know well the tragic story of the cancelled-but-now -classic TV series “Firefly” and its underrated movie spin-off “Serenity”, and the vast majority of those same fans wish the story could be continued in some way. Well, many wish for it but it takes a special kind of fan to stop wishing and make it happen! The fan-made film “Browncoats: Redemption”, which premiered this past weekend at Dragon*Con 2010, is the perfect example of fans taking ideas and putting them into action (and for a good cause to boot!).
This is Mark from AbbyShot, and I sat down this weekend to watch the film thanks to the cool online premiere held on the “Browncoats: Redemption” website in conjunction with the real-life Dragon*Con premiere. I guess the folks behind “Redemption” wanted to get people talking about the film online and (would you look at that), it worked! I purposefully stayed away from other reviews to give you fine folks my unbiased opinion.
First of all, a caveat for anyone who may not have followed the genesis of “Browncoats: Redemption” – this is indeed a fan-film for charity which translates into “labour of love”. Please don’t go into this looking for a million-dollar-budget motion picture. DO, however, look for fans pouring their hearts, souls, and a ton of hard work into a fun new adventure set in the Firefly / Serenity ‘Verse. Writer / director Michael C. Dougherty and his entire cast and crew must have had a blast creating this film because it shows through every frame. And big kudos right off the bat to NEO f.x for some very big-budget-looking digital effects including a brand new Firefly-esque ship (Scarab-class… I like the sound of that) which is named, of course: “Redemption”.
So, with that out of the way, let’s jump right into the story!
The tale of “Redemption” takes place very soon after the events of the film “Serenity” and many references are made throughout, so if you haven’t seen “Serenity” yet then you’ll need to watch it before this film. Chances are that if you’ve read this far into the review you’ve seen “Serenity” at least once so I’m probably preaching to the choir
The Alliance has a major PR nightmare on their hands with the terrible secret of Miranda exposed to the public by Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity. Their PR battle could swiftly turn into a real war as the Outer Rim planets and the Browncoats are agitating for a regime change. Alliance Minister of Parliament Darius Turner (played with devious political flair by Ted Taylor) wants to send a message to those folks on the fringe that their dissent will not be tolerated. So a plot is put into place to make an example of any renegade ship and crew, if not Serenity then a similar ship.
That’s where Laura Matthews and her ship, Redemption, come into play. Much like the crew of Serenity, Laura and her rag-tag group are first seen surviving from job-to-job, still wearing the Browncoats of the anti-Alliance Independents, and staying under the Alliance radar. Well, until now! Laura is played with a world-weary toughness by Heather Fagan, but (of course) under her hard exterior she has a deep love for her ship and her crew.
It’s a fun story overall that plays like an extended Firefly episode. My only gripe was that it took about 10-15 minutes for me to really get into the story. I found the film started a tad slowly and didn’t truly find its footing until the scene where the Alliance plan came into focus. With protagonists and antagonists set up though, things start moving quickly from there! I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to spoil any of the interesting plot twists you’ll experience.
While everyone in the cast did a fine job, there were two stand-outs for me:
Petra or “Pete” is hired onto (well, forced upon) the Redemption crew as a new pilot, and creates a lot of initial friction with the Captain because of her “know-it-all” demeanour. Miriam Pultro has a great presence on-screen and evokes a bit of Starbuck from the new “Battlestar: Galactica” series with her confrontational and bold attitude. She’s believable as a young woman in a rough-and-tumble “man’s ‘Verse”.
Thadeus is the Alliance soldier hired by Minister Darius Turner to track down a renegade ship and he becomes the main antagonist of the story hunting Redemption. Kurt Skarstedt plays Thadeus with a very intimidating and larger-than-life screen presence that makes for a character you’ll just “love to hate”. Plus his coat makes him look kind of like a gun-kata warrior from Equilibrium. Which is cool
Every actor did bring something fun to the table and definitely worth a mention (and kudos!) are: P.J. Megaw and Michael Levy (for great comic relief), Kevin Troy and John Patrick Barry (hands-down the slickest and coolest members of the crew), and Guy Wellman (great as the even-tempered “conscience” of the crew).
Speaking of actors, did you know there are MULTIPLE cameos in “Browncoats: Redemption” by actors and characters from both “Firefly” and “Serenity”? It would ruin the fun if I told you who…
How To See The Film
All in all, if you’re a fan of the ‘Verse created so lovingly in “Firefly” and “Serenity”, this fan-film is well worth checking out. While the online premiere stream is over, the DVD of the film can be yours for a donation of only $22 at the Browncoats: Redemption shop. Charities supported by the film’s proceeds include Equality Now, Kids Need to Read, and the Dyslexia Foundation, among others (you can see the full list of charities here).
To quote Mal Reynolds himself: “We’ve done the impossible and that makes us mighty.” Browncoats: This one’s for charity AND this one’s for you! Why not show your support?
& the AbbyShot Browncoats
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