Posted: 01/23/2009

 

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

(2008)

by Jef Burnham



Now available on DVD from Mutant Enemy.


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It felt like the majority of theatrical releases in 2008 were super hero movies. Most of them were good, if not great; some were quite mediocre (I’m talking to you, The Incredible Hulk); and still others featured super heroes who were not super heroes at all, but gods who could only be killed by love or something like that. But my personal favorite never came to theaters. Joss Whedon’s “internet musical,” Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, stayed at #1 on iTunes for some 5 weeks, its soundtrack hit the top 40 on the Billboard charts, and it was named one of the best inventions of 2008 by Time magazine. Now Dr. Horrible has come to DVD packed with special features.

Like the rest of Joss Whedon’s oeuvre, which includes television series such as Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible succeeds in transcending the stereotypes of the genre in which he is working. It successfully blends comedy and drama, features some of the catchy tunes you are likely to hear in your entire lifetime, and still works as a satire/commentary on the super hero genre. Whedon and his co-writers Zack and Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen answer the question posed for years in comics like Batman on how much influence heroes’ actions have in the creation of villains. There has always been this “chicken v. egg” debate with The Joker in particular, which was briefly dealt with in The Dark Knight. Very few writers have ever successfully delved into the debate though, leaving it to be used more as a taunt for The Joker to get Batman all riled up. Whedon flips the dichotomy of hero and villain on its head, making the villain clearly the protagonist against a super hero who is so shallow he doesn’t even have a secret identity. Through this, Whedon and the gang show how the self-centered Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, Firefly) inspires the relatively good-intentioned super villain, Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother), to shed blood in order to gain a coveted seat in the Evil League of Evil.

The highlight of the special features, and reason #1 to buy the DVD for those who have already downloaded the movie, is Commentary! The Musical, offering 42 minutes of all new music from the cast and crew. Some of the best numbers are Nathan Fillion’s song about how much better than Neil Patrick Harris he is and a song from Dr. Horrible’s henchman pal, Moist. There are songs featuring almost every member of the cast and crew, including Joss Whedon himself, who sings an anti-special features number.

There is also a regular commentary, which too is funny, and three featurettes. The featurettes cover the making of the movie, the making of the music, and one called “What Just Happened?” “What Just Happened?” shows how Dr. Horrible became the phenomenon it is even before the film finished shooting and how quickly it took off upon release. A selection of fan-made Evil League of Evil application videos is also featured on the DVD, and more tidbits on the film’s fan base are dropped by cast and crew in the regular commentary.

Although Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog runs about 42 minutes, the film is endlessly rewatchable (including watching it with both commentaries, I’ve watched it 5 times since Christmas), and the added value of the special features makes the purchase of this DVD well worth the $10 it goes for on Amazon.

Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.



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