Serenity – music by David Newman

If there’s one giant mystery about Serenity, it’s not the plot, nor even the decision to diminish the Firefly cast by two beloved characters on their first big-screen outing. There’s not even a big mystery as to how the movie came about – to put it simply, enough people loved Joss Whedon’s short-lived Fox TV show, especially its characters and its wild-west-of-the-future setting, that Universal was sold on the idea of doing Firefly for the big screen. If there’s one mystery I’m left with, it’s this: whatever happened to Greg Edmonson? The TV series’ music didn’t beat around the bush in establishing the western-in-space theme, and with its ethnic instrumentation, helped to remind viewers that there was more to it than that. Naturally, the last thing I expected from the movie Serenity was a score steeped in conventional, Star Wars-style orchestral leitmotif.

The Serenity score was composed by David Newman, who was responsible for the simply amazing music of Galaxy Quest. I’m hesitant to say that his assignment to this movie was a trade up or a trade down, but it was certainly a bizarre step sideways. Listening to the soundtrack alone, you’re three tracks in before you even get a hint of the western-inspired music of the series, and even then, it’s not even as authentically western as, say, Copland’s “Rodeo”. There’s almost hope for “Trading Station Robbery”, but then it seems like nobody can decide if the guitar should sound country-twangy or Duane-Eddy-spy-movie-music twangy.

Now, if you don’t care about whether or not it sounds like a musical continuation of Firefly, this is some fine classic David Newman SF action music – again, if you liked Newman’s score for Galaxy Quest, you’ll almost certainly like this. And I can sort of see an argument that Serenity is not just an episode of Firefly projected onto a big screen, but a larger adventure demanding the trappings of a larger canvas, including bigger, more theatrical music (call this the Star Trek: The Motion Picture defense). If that’s your bag, the music doesn’t get much bigger than “Crash Landing” or “Jayne & Zoe / Final Battle”.

3 out of 4This is a hard one to rate – it’s great music, but it just doesn’t mesh with the movie and the sonic universe that had already been established. And in the end credits of the movie, Newman even quotes the original Firefly theme, and that didn’t even make it to the CD. If you just pull the booklet out of the jewel case and pretend this is the soundtrack to a movie that has nothing to do with Firefly, you’re in good shape.

Order this CD

  1. Into The River (3:11)
  2. Escape (1:33)
  3. Serenity (0:51)
  4. Going For A Ride (2:24)
  5. Trading Station Robbery (3:21)
  6. River Goes Wild (1:28)
  7. River And Simon In Locker (1:00)
  8. Population: Dead (3:56)
  9. Haven Destroyed (0:56)
  10. Shepherd Book’s Last Words (1:00)
  11. You’re Not A Reaver (0:57)
  12. Mal Decides (3:09)
  13. Truth / Mal’s Speech (3:27)
  14. Space Battle (3:21)
  15. Crash Landing (2:00)
  16. Run To Black (2:58)
  17. Generator Room (3:06)
  18. Mal & Op Fight (2:10)
  19. Jayne & Zoe / Final Battle (2:49)
  20. Funeral / Rebuilding Serenity (2:01)
  21. Prep For A Flight (1:33)
  22. Love (1:06)
  23. End Credits (1:37)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 49:54