Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog

I saw this awhile ago but it's only now that I've gotten around to writing a review for it.

As with many Joss Whedon ventures, this is quirky and fun in all the right places. Who would have thought you could turn the bad guy, the erstwhile Dr. Horrible, and make him into the protagonist, while making the traditional good guy, Captain Hammer, into the antagonist. In Dr. Horrible, you find yourself rooting more for Dr. Horrible than you might normally for a villain in anything. Dr. Horrible is very likable, and just wants to join the ELE; the Evil League of Evil, and won't settle for anything less {and certainly not the Henchman's Union that his friend Moist is part of}.

Part of the brilliance of 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog' is in the casting. Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious and appropriately cynical as Dr. Horrible. He brings a certain something to the character; a kind of jaded determination that lends itself well to the humour in the piece. Nathan Fillion shines as the shallow superhero Captain Hammer, who seems to take a perverse pleasure in bothering Dr. Horrible, finding different ways to make his life miserable. One of the ways he does this is stealing the girl, Penny, who Dr. Horrible has a maybe-not-so-unrequited love for. Penny, played by Felicia Day, is different from the girl you would expect to normally find in this role. She has a girl-next-door quality to her, which allows you to like her and she is a genuinely good person, who wants to help other people, and has no idea, like most women in superhero ventures, that her friend Billy is really Dr. Horrible. We are shown that even though she is dating Captain Hammer, that she may not really like him. And, judging from the way he acts through the piece, we can't blame her.

'Dr. Horrible' is broken into three acts, all of which are executed quite well. Whedon brings a sense of reality to his creation; sometimes things don't always go according to plan, sometimes people do die who you don't want to, sometimes the bad guy will win {even if you like the bad guy}. All of these things are part of life. One thing about Whedon, is that he doesn't necessarily let all of his characters have happy endings. And while I'm not a giant fan of that, I have to acknowledge and respect him for drifting from the norm with that concept.

The fact that this is a musical brings another element to the mix. Most musicals are flights of fancy, and can have a tendency to go on for too long with the "spur of the moment" segments of people bursting into songs on their daily routines. There are a few songs that shine out through the soundtrack; 'I Cannot Believe My Eyes', 'Brand New Day', 'So They Say', 'Slipping' and 'Everything You Ever'. These bring a complexity to the story and show different aspects of the characters that we might have otherwise missed.

Grade: A

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Review: Fall Out Boy's new single "I Don't Care"

I didn't think I would be posting again this soon, but having heard this song, I was practically compelled to do so.

I'm sure some reading this blog don't care {Ha} about this, but the fact is that this song shows just how much Fall Out Boy has expanded their style and actually changed. Their first four albums have been pretty much the same, if not in concept, then in style. They're big in the emo/hipster scene and for a good reason. Pete Wentz, as much as it pains me to admit it, has a great stage presence, and he has the gritty good looks that appeal to the younger crowds that Fall Out Boy attracts. Though he is not the main person in the band {though he does a great deal of the song-writing}, he is most likely the first person people think of when they hear the band's name.

The singer, Patrick Stump, who I find incredibly adorable, has definitely grown in his vocal style. While their first three albums; Fall Out Boy's Evening Out With Your Girlfriend, Take This To Your Grave and From Under the Cork Tree, displayed his talents for belting out lyrics that don't make much sense, but do flow well together, in a semi-whiny voice, reminiscent of the group Panic! At the Disco, which FOB is compared to a lot.

On Infinity on High, you can see a shift in this. Sure, his vocals are still a big whiny from time to time, but he is expanding his style and range, and that makes for a good thing, as you can tell he is maturing as he enters his mid-twenties. This is most evident on the songs 'This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race', 'I'm Like a Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Getting You Off (Me and You)', 'Bang the Doldrums', 'Golden' and 'Fame < Infamy'. He is putting more of himself into the songs, and using his whole range, and it shows in the quality.

In the new single, that growth is continuing, and makes for a radically different Fall Out Boy. They are starting to broaden their horizons and come away from the emo scene a bit, going for a bit of a rocker vibe. The song is very very catchy and has a blessedly short title, another departure from their very long titles of the previous 4 albums. Upon a first listen, you are pulled in by the opening guitar riff, and when Patrick begins singing, you immediately find yourself bobbing your head in time to the music. This is definitely a song that will bring them a lot of new fans, and reinforce the opinions of long-time ones; that Fall Out Boy delivers and does it well.

Grade: A

Review: X-Files Season 1

As a long time horror/supernatural fan, I had always wanted to watch this show, but since it started in 1993, when I was 5 or 6 {depending on the time of year}, I wouldn't have been able to watch it anyway. I finally borrowed my friend's copy and after three weeks, finally got around to watching it with my mother. We managed to burn through it in about a week and a half.

What is amazing about this show is that they managed to combine both a cop/government drama into a supernatural theme, and do it well. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have brilliant chemistry, and by the second or third episode, I was already rooting for them to get together. The sexual tension is just...oh man. It's a huge force in this show, larger than in almost any other show I can think of.

The only things I can think of that were bad are as follows:
-Scully is the skeptic of the team, and that's good, because Mulder needs to be grounded sometimes, or else he would just be off hunting aliens on a whim. The problem with this is that throughout the series, she sees constant evidence of aliens, and even deals with a psychic who knows a nickname of hers that only someone in her immediate family would know {this is after her father died, and he called her 'Starbuck'}. And even after this, and many other instances, she still remains highly skeptical.
-The theme of 'revenge from beyond the grave' is used way too much, about four times in the entire season, and they're all placed pretty close together.

As a whole, though, the season was well done and immediately pulled me in, so that I know I'm going to want to see more of the seasons, and be rooting the entire time for Scully and Mulder to get together.

Grade: A