Some bad movies are nearly unbearable to watch. Other bad movies are so unfathomably horrible that they move past the realm of being unwatchable and become truly enjoyable in a so-bad-it’s-good way. Serenity falls firmly into the latter of the two categories.
It is almost impossible to describe the plot of this film without sounding like a maniac because the script is simply so ridiculous. Long story short, it’s an erotic thriller with a lot of fishing and some sci-fi thrown in for good measure.
“If you think we’re going to pay you a single dollar for that catastrophe, you’re out of your f***ing mind!” exclaims one character early in the movie. Although this refers to a fishing trip gone wrong, it rings surprisingly true in the context of the film as a whole.
From the opening scene, it is easy to tell that you’re in for a bumpy ride. It begins with a close-up of someone’s face, zooms into their pupil showing a reflection of the sea, and transitions into a shot of a poorly-animated giant tuna. You can’t make this stuff up. This introduction doesn’t make any sense until at least three-quarters of the way through the movie, by which point you will be marveling at the stupidity occurring onscreen.
Perhaps the film’s single biggest problem is that none of its characters are likable. Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is one of the most generic characters ever written. He is the bad boy who, fed up with the system, decides to go off the grid, only for his past to catch up with him and ruin his seemingly serene oasis. How many movie protagonists does that describe? Too many, that’s for sure.
Anne Hathaway’s character, Karen, is a pretty basic femme fatale. Jason Clarke’s Frank is your run-of-the-mill wife-beating asshole. It’s hard to truly like either one of them because they are so clearly manipulating each other. Of course, you feel bad for Karen because she is being abused, but that is where the sympathy stops. The supporting cast also includes Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong in confusing throwaway roles.
While watching the movie, you may wonder how all of these well-known actors and actresses signed on to be in this film. Were they just in it for the paycheck? (Jason Clarke may have been in that case, as it seems like he is the only person who knows how truly awful the script is.) Was it the promise of working with the (usually) pretty talented Steven Knight? Were they tied to a chair and held at gunpoint? Were they blindfolded when they signed on? (Note to Hollywood: please don’t do the Bird Box challenge while reading scripts.)
Yes, this movie is so unfathomably bad that you may wonder why it even got made in the first place. A star-driven thriller sure sounds like a good idea… twenty years ago. This film was originally going to come out last year but was pushed back twice before settling in on its January release date. And as you can probably see, January is often used as a dumping ground for low-quality garbage to cash in on a quick few bucks to mitigate losses.
Even the technical aspects of the movie are horrible. In at least four instances, the film used weird whip pans that were laughably out-of-place and had absolutely no emotional or symbolic relevance. It was simply an instance of the movie wanting to look cool, and instead, it (yet again) came off as stupid and amateurish. This is just one of many things that were wrong with this film’s execution.
Overall, Serenity has to be one of the worst movies ever made. That being said, it is also one of the most hilarious things to grace the silver screen in a very long time. You have to see it to believe it, so it may be worth the price of admission after all.
If you can see the film after a few drinks, that would probably make it even more fun. Heck, make a drinking game out of it. There are a million ways you could get drunk within the first ten minutes. (Please drink responsibly.)
Serenity opens in theaters on January 25.