Okay, first off, I have to say that I'm a huge, massive, enormous Joss Whedon fan... so I pretty much expected that I was going to love the Firefly movie, Serenity... and I did.
It had all of Joss's hallmarks... strong characters, witty dialog, little tiny women who can kick everyone's ass... you know, all the good stuff.
I had seen a review that said it felt kind of like three teevee episodes, but I have to disagree with that. If anything it put me more in mind of the later Star Trek movies (First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis) in that the crew here was fully formed and they were obviously already bonded and had real back-story.
It never felt like I wasn't clued in about anything though, there was a nice little piece at the beginning of the movie that did the job of the Exposition Fairy in a fairly subtle way, gave us character relationships and a little background, but wasn't heavy handed. That and the "scene within a scene within a scene" opening followed by one of Joss's signature "oners" (one long continual shot without a cut... although according to IMDb.com the scene in question was actually two shots cut together, but it looks flawless) was enough to have me hooked after the first five minutes. It also makes me want to go out and rent the entire Firefly series.
Add to that the almost mandatory Joss blindside twist ("Ha! You thought it was left... but no, its RIGHT!") which actually did surprise me, as Joss does tend to be able to do, and a cast that just seemed to be enjoying what could be their last outing as these characters, and its a movie that's well worth the price of admission.
yani's rating: 3 browncoats out of 5