Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review - Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog
Written and Directed by Joss Whedon
2009 Hugo Winner for Best Dramatic Presentation

This review has been delayed a long time. Though I've had my copy of the DVD release for a long time I lent it to a friend shortly before the Hugo awards were announced and I only got it back last week. They kept showing it more people who hadn't seen it which shows you how much affection they had for the movie. Assuming you can call a internet video a "movie" of course.

Dr. Horrible is a socially awkward nerd who is documenting his efforts to become a supervillain in a video blog. He has a crush on a woman who he sees at the laundromat and he plans to impress her by building a freeze ray and performing acts of supervillainy. His archenemy Captain Hammer interferes with one of these heists and meets the woman Dr. Horrible has a crush on. And since this is a musical most of this is told through musical numbers.

A major part of what makes Dr. Horrible so effective for nerds is the fact that he is the prototypical nerd. He's smart, thinks he knows better than everyone else, and can't talk to a girl to save his life. He even uses sheeple in song lyrics.

Before going on I want to state for the record that I've never used my freeze ray in an attempt to meet a woman. Or used the word "sheeple".

Getting back to the point the main character is one of the few genuine feeling depictions of a nerd you'll find. He's as socially awkward as any nerd and his clumsy attempts to connect will be familiar to any nerd (albeit on a different scale).

The script is fantastic. It runs from hysterically funny to some brutal pathos and does both well. It's a comedy based on classic dramatic archetypes. The plot that runs through an old story hidden so well behind a mask of comedy that you won't see it coming. The music isn't spectacular (Joss Whedon may be able to pick out notes on a piano but he doesn't have a lot of skill at it) but the lyrics are fun.

The cast are also note perfect. Neil Patrick Harris plays the titular role as a man who puts up the defensive mask of being a supervillain to deal with the world. Nathan Fillion meanwhile takes comedic arrogance to a level rarely seen. I feel bad for Felicia Day as the innocent woman caught between them since she isn't given much to do besides being blind to people's faults.

If you get the DVD instead of watching the show online the bonus material is worth watching on it's own. One of the commentary tracks is a whole new musical on its own with it's own dramatic arc. They spend very little time talking about the movie and instead sing their own parody of DVD commentaries.

Dr. Horrible is a classic story with very modern stylings and rebuilt for nerds. So it's completely unsurprising that it won the Hugo award. The only real problem with it is the low budget styling that grew out of it's origin as a video for the Internet. Anyone who is a self-described nerd should see it but since it has been distributed on the net I doubt there's any self-described nerd who hasn't.