Movies / Movie Reviews

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

By Zach Bowen
July 24, 2008 - 12:33

Writen by: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Take B-villains, singing, a love story, and Joss Whedon, and you have a combination for greatness. “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” is a three act musical that Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Serenity”, initially released on the internet for free, now downloadable on iTunes, as a form of retaliation against the studio system. After the writers strike that happened during the 2007-2008 season, Whedon proved that he did not need studios to create original stories. This is quite possibly a stepping stone for a future form of mainstream entertainment with original TV shows being released only for the internet.

“Dr. Horrible” stars Neil Patrick Harris as the man with a PhD in Horribleness, Dr. Horrible. It additionally stars Whedon alumni actors Nathan Fillion (“Firefly” “Buffy” “Serenity”) as the overrated and over the top Captain Hammer, and Felicia Day (“Buffy”) as Penny the love interest who spends her time volunteering. The story follows Dr. Horrible as he posts his seemingly popular video blogs on the internet. He talks about his desire to get into the Evil League of Evil and the girl of his dreams, Penny. While the beginning of the video is a little slow with getting all of the exposition out, Whedon does not waste any time as all of the dialogue is important to understanding the world he is creating. However, once the initial exposition is done, the rest of the dialogue is astonishing. Whedon uses a similar style of language that he has implemented in his other works.

What Whedon does best is essentially throwing the viewers emotions through a blender. One moment will be hilarious, followed by a deeply saddening moment, followed by another joke, followed by a humanizing moment, and so on. It is exhausting to watch. However, these moments are not rushed and every emotion does get enough time on screen to not make the story feel clustered or rushed.

The acting in this web-musical is phenomenal. The combination of Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon is a near perfect collaboration. Harris shows a tremendous amount of range with his character. Even though this musical is only a little over thirty minutes, it feels as if you really know who these characters are and their motivations. Fillion adds a great amount of humor with his rude hero, Captain Hammer. The delivery of his jokes gets the biggest laughs. What really helps him stand out as an actor are his ridiculous facial expressions that only add to the absurdity of the story.

The most important part of any musical is obviously the songs. This is Whedon’s second time writing a musical. His initial musical was on “Buffy” titled “Once More with Feeling”. It is interesting to note that two of the “Buffy” writers, Marti Noxon and David Fury, have now appeared in both of Whedon’s musicals. The songs are catchy and there is a fun range of them. Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day have wonderful voices that really compliment each other. Nathan Fillion on the other hand, does not have the traditional musical voice. His booming vocals work for this over the top musical and like with his dialogue, is guaranteed to get a lot of laughs. While it is known that “Dr. Horrible” will get a DVD release, we just have to hope that it will also get a soundtrack released.

Despite my praise, this is not by any means a perfect piece of work. Some of the effects look hokey, the lip syncing with the songs could have been improved, and there are a few lines of dialogue that sound a bit stiff. Additionally, the lighting bothered me in a few scenes. The lighting going from shot to shot would not always match, but this is just nitpicking little things that were probably due to a limited budget.

Even though this is no longer available for free, it is well worth paying a small amount of money on iTunes. “Dr. Horrible” is great for fans of Joss Whedon, comic books, musicals, and for people who just like a quality story. After the ending that was given, it can only be hoped that Whedon has a sequel planned for the future. What ending you ask? Well, go watch and find out.

Rating: 9 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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