Let’s start out with a few disclaimers. I am getting nothing for writing this, no money has changed hands. Second, yes I am a Whedon fanboy, no question. Third I am basing this review on a rough cut, with the final cut due at DragonCon, so let’s let the chips fall where they may.
As background, I have recently become acquainted with many of the cast and crew of this movie and the Browncoats themselves (waves to ‘em). They are, all in all, a fun group to hang around with. So, shall we begin?
As with all good films, its strength rests on three things: characters, story and synergy.
Browncoats Redemption takes place within the Whedonverse of Firefly at another pocket of settlers. It chronicles the trials and life of the crew as they struggle to survive against an oppressive regime. A portion of the beginning gives us a glimpse into the world they live in as well as the outer shell of the crew, chief among them Capt. Laura Matthews, played with charm and heart by Heather Fagan. Heather brings to the screen a presence that is captivating, strong and vulnerable and quite frankly just wonderful. When she smiles, the screen lights up, when she is angry, the universe trembles, for such is the life of a Big Damn Hero, thrust into a situation she did not want.
John Patrick Barry as the wheeler dealer Banks is just fun in his sly way bringing a sardonic sense of reality to the work that Redemption does. His eyes are a tell to the universe, letting anyone know that he means business and business is what he does.
Guy Wellman plays Cameron Alan, keeper of the personal history and when push comes to shove, the quiet strength of conviction behind this group. As with any good story, the writers left me wanting more from him, more back-story to bolster his quiet strength.
I would be remiss without mentioning Miriam Pultro as hired pilot Petra Jo Chen. From her introduction in the bar to the final frame of the movie, she sparkles with an infectious energy that made me question who “Pete” really was and what she really wanted.
The rest of the crew: Kevin Troy, PJ Megaw, Michael Levy and many others make for a wild ride.
Kurt Skarstedt is chilling as the amoral Thadeus Stevens, putting a face to the arrogant evil that is the government forces. From his first appearance onscreen, the viewer knows the darkness underneath and its reveal is even more evil that first imagined. Also, Ted Taylor, as Minister Turner, is as cold as the dark space personifying the power that corrupts, the Alliance.
I would love to list everyone in the cast, on the ship, ever person in the towns, every child on the sidewalk, every Browncoat… but suffice to say that this is a herculean effort An effort that shows in every single frame. An effort that belies the term “fan film”. Ultimately, the viewer is rewarded with another glimpse into the Firefly universe. 94+ minutes came and went so quickly for me; it was as a bad cliché, wanting so much more.
More Big Damn Heroes.