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

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