Rated 4.0

In a galactic empire 500 years from now, a ragtag band of rebels grudgingly guards a psychic girl who is wanted by the empire’s evil minions. The title may seem misleading to some, but fans of writer-director Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV series Firefly will get the reference in this big-screen spinoff; Serenity is the name of the hero’s ship. The series was reportedly a sci-fi Western, but the movie is a sci-fi buccaneer swashbuckler; Whedon hits all the obligatory space-opera notes, and he does it with a degree of verbal wit and agile pacing that could teach George Lucas a thing or two. The cast from the series (Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin and Summer Glau) is comfortable with Whedon’s style—but be warned, Firefly fans: Some of them won’t be back for the sequel.