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Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
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237 of 254 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2008
So it's nothing short of a miracle that I ran into this webcast musical. I'd never dipped in the pond of Whedon's work and at the time I wasn't a fan of any of the actors, but boy did that change.

I first heard about Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog from a couple weekly podcasts that I listened to and everyone loved it, so I gave it a try. I came out of the experience singing the catchy songs for weeks, seeking out the actors' works, and wanting to be a bigger Whedon fan.

The acting is spectacular. Neil Patrick Harris is one of the best actors of his generation and he shows real and refined talent by both singing and acting as Dr. Horrible himself. It's a shame that Nathan Fillion, Captain Hammer, is not an exploding star. Felica Day, too, exhibits fine acting and singing skills and it's hard not to fall in love with her character, Penny.

The Whedon team (+ Mo) do an amazing job of weaving together fine acting, extremely catchy and well-written songs, and witty, yet thought-provoking dialogue in the tragicomedy that is Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and I, for one, cannot wait for more.
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127 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2008
"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" tells an incredible story of an aspiring villain... who blogs and sings. In this backwards world, the villain is the hero, and the hero is the villain. But which one will get the girl? If you're a fan of "Sweeney Todd," you'll love this movie. The acting is impeccable, and the music is flawless. Not a scene, not a song, not a word is out of place. This is a story you won't want to miss.

The fact that this DVD has two commentaries -- a typical filmmaker's commentary and, appropriately so, a musical commentary -- is unique in and of itself. The fact that it's the same stellar crew that put together the Sing-Along blog itself guarantees brilliance. The other special features, such as the "making of" videos, are horribly satisfying. I fell in love with the project all over again.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2008
I just ordered my DVD but my original thoughts were blogged on July 18, and they still stand; well, of course:

Whether you are or aren't an acolyte of Joss Whedon, do yourself a favor and view this 45-minute serial TV show made for the Internet (and now on DVD).

This was an experiment devised by Whedon, two of his brothers, a writer friend of theirs, and countless others who contributed, during the fairly recent (now months ago) WGA strike. The artists on this project basically worked for free, with Joss Whedon and a few others ponying up the funds.

Dr. Horrible is the tale of a mad scientist (Neil Patrick Harris), would-be villain who wants with his entire being to be part of the Evil League of Evil, run by an Uber-Villain Overlord named Bad Horse. Why? He's in love with a girl named Penny, who he's afraid to talk to but wants to rule the world with. She in turn falls for a big lug with half a brain called Captain Hammer. Hammer and Dr. H have a hate-hate relationship, mostly because Hammer keeps giving him beatings and messing up his plans for world domination.

Did I mention it's a musical? The whole thing is brilliantly devised; archetypes of villains and heroes turned on their head, a sweet young thing who is their innocent catalyst for change, and a tuneful score which harks to musical theatre influences ... some Bernstein, some Schwartz, with emphasis on Sondheim. Whedon and his co-writers obviously love language and know how to use it to warp the woof of an oft-told tale; good vs. evil. But just who is good and who is evil? And for whom will you weep when the story is through?

Write and tell me. I'd like to know what you thought.

On the surface, looking at photos, reading synopses here and there, you might be fooled that this is just a trifle, a silly confection. Those unfamiliar with Whedon's previous artistic outings are in for a surprise. The ending is being hotly debated even as I write this. There's a lot for everyone here; musical enthusiasts to comic-book fans, to dramaturgs.

Watch how well the tone shifts from Act to Act, with the music supporting all the action. Act I is the honeymoon, Act II the divorce, and Act III "the great black pit" in more ways than one.

Neil Patrick Harris is a star - if that wasn't already clear. His singing and acting runs the gamut from sweetly hopeful, to sarcastic, to morose, to black outrage and despair. If Act III doesn't prove that you can become hollowed out through your own mistaken desires, nothing will.

Nathan Fillion plays the "Hero," Captain Hammer. I don't want to give too much away if you haven't seen it yet, but let's just say his performance is the perfect capital P for pompous. I'm not surprised he delivers on the singing - a very talented man who is not afraid to spoof his own image as someone who is adored, but in a totally obnoxious way. He's equal parts lecherous Judge Turpin from Sweeney Todd and Judd Frye from Oklahoma. Not easy to pull off.

Felicia Day (who has her own show The Guild on the Internet Highway) plays Penny, the innocent ingenue who tries to stay positive in a wicked, bad world. Tries to make a difference despite indifference. Day is competent, sweet and smart in a role that doesn't give her much to do. It felt as though she really had to pull back her own personality to make it fit within the confines of a role that doesn't change or grow. But she is there for a definite purpose.

How we could be taken on this journey in such a short series. I'm a believer that all things are possible. Especially when there's Whedons involved.
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119 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2008
This is an amazing piece of work, and was one of the first "created for the web" creations to really succeed, both artistically and virally. Neil Patrick and the whole cast are perfect, and the entire production is highly original in content, format, and artistry. The songs are great (you'll be singing them for days, if not weeks) and bottom line, it's just really, really good, and worth watching or buying or whatever!
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2008
So I originally watched this like most people through the power of the internet. Then I downloaded it on iTunes. Then I bought the soundtrack. And now I'll buy this.

If only for a chance to support it and beg Joss to make more great movies and keep him in business.

The movie is perfection. The acting fantastic and the songs way to catchy to be considered legal.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 3, 2008
I felt that I just had to add another 5-star review to help this show/movie/whatever-it-is along. I'll update this review once I get the DVD to talk about the extra features, but for now I'll simply talk about the 42 minutes of wonderfulness that is Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Update: This DVD has the best extra features I've ever seen! They are simply spectacular. The musical commentary is ridiculously funny and the songs are just as catchy as in the actual thing. I can't believe they took the time to give us another 42 minutes of excellence. It's astounding. Also, all the other extra features are cool. It's fun to learn about how they made the music and the show and everything. The creators and actors are all interesting. But one more thing puts these extra features into the upper echelon. There are hidden features! There are puzzles scattered throughout the DVD(one of the easy ones is that some credits have yellow letters that spell out an action) that, when you decipher them, tell you to perform certain actions at certain times. When you do, you get to see tidbits of bonus content. The DVD is like an extra musical and a game all in one!

This stand-alone story tells the tale of a sort of sub-par supervillain and his attempt to enter the Evil League of Evil. The supervillain, Dr. Horrible, lives a mostly normal life when he's not being villainous. In fact, he even has a crush on a girl he always sees at the laundromat, Penny. Unfortunately, Dr. Horrible's nemesis, the just and righteous Captain Hammer also has "feelings" for Penny. And the whole thing is filled with spectacular songs! The songs are catchy and amazing, the acting is superb, the story is both hilarious and touching, and to think that all this was done during the writer's strike by a few talented people and with their own funds.

So if you think that watching a supervillain/hero love triangle musical sounds like an amazing experience, this is for you. It's filled with parody and wit, some of the jokes are spectacular, and the entire thing is memorable. If you're like me, you'll find yourself watching this over and over, showing it to everyone you know, and reveling in the fact that you can't get the songs out of your head.

Other things:

1. You can watch this for free on hulu.com, but there are advertisements. I bet that if you see it there, you'll like it enough to buy the DVD.
2. This format is something extremely innovative and interesting. By buying this DVD and supporting Joss Whedon's new idea and format, perhaps more of these creative endeavors can come into existence. This is sort of a trial, and it's up to us to show that a short, small-budget, well-acted, well-written piece of work is worthwhile. Plus, Joss funded the entire thing himself, and I think of it as a sort of shareware. Buying this DVD is my way of saying "Thank you. I do in fact want to own this. Great Work."
3. One reviewer complains that the DVD is a DVD-R, which is a little sketchy. This is only because the whole production value was in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps not even 200k. The people behind this wonderful work are doing their best to provide us with something great, and this DVD will be just that, great, no matter the format.
4. Finally, I have nothing to do with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, other than that I am a rabid fan. My plug for the DVD is entirely based on how creative and worthwhile it is, so I hope everyone buys it and enjoys!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
I'm a teacher who hardly ever uses films. I'm very choosy about what I use, whether it's a document, a piece of literature, or a political cartoon. When it comes time to teach/reteach plot line and the elements of the short story, in both my honors and regular classes, I use this film. Why is this the perfect film for both boys and girls? For both Honors and regular classes?

1. The Whedons have instant credibility, especially now that The Avengers was so successful with a wide audience (Joss wrote its screenplay, as well as the one for Toy Story). Students also recognize the cast from shows like Castle, The Big Bang Theory, and How I Met Your Mother, so they're in it.
2. Omniscient point of view: Musicals are the perfect genre to teach this point of view. It also reinforces the truth that film is a form of literature. Students become aware that a film can be in the first person if there is a voice-over in the first person. Otherwise, it is third person. Kurosawa is a great filmmaker for showing more than one character's interpretations of an event, but this uses popular culture icons and the timeless superhero motif to make a musical cool! It also shows that omniscient doesn't necessarily mean you know EVERY character's thoughts--just the important ones to the conflict.
3. There are both major and minor conflicts that are easy to identify. There are three clear conflicts, all three of which Dr. Horrible exposes in the first scene. Every student benefits from this complex structure AND understands it. It's not beneath the honors students, and the students in the regular class can follow it and identify it, as well. They can also see how climax in a plot line can be in the same scene for every conflict, but different parts. Best line with a double meaning to discuss that addresses two of the conflicts in one: "The world I wanted at my feet". GENIUS!
4. Resolution symbolism. At first, when the film goes dark, students call out, "It's over? What?" Then we have an amazing discussion where it comes out that the simplicity of the ending really exposes Billy's darkness and loneliness and how utterly human and broken and incomplete he is when he's alone.
5. You can understand every single word in the lyrics. The enunciation is perfect.
6. There's love and superheroes. How perfect is that?
7. Every song is catchy, and the dialogue is witty. During class, students react the whole way through. Some of my students are still singing the songs. They have also come back to me and told me they've watched it several times since class. They talk to others about it. Even after they're my students, they come back to visit me, ask me what we're doing, and ask, "Have you shown them Dr. Horrible yet?" It's a hit!
8. It catches you off guard. You think it's gonna be funny, and then you're hit with a curve ball.
9. The end of each act is a perfect discussion place, if you feel like your class needs to discuss and clarify complications.
10. This has elements of a Greek tragedy, not only because of the three acts, but with our flawed hero whose own ambition is destroying him.
11. Themes involve the darkness and frivolity of society, false prophets, what a hero truly is. Powerful depth for a film that seems to be a comedy.
12. It's short, only 42 minutes long, and yet so much happens. These men are geniuses! Thank goodness for that writer's strike where they just got bored sitting around and decided to come up with this gem!

WARNINGS:
1. There are two sexual references, one involving the word "penis". Students can handle this. Don't prepare them for it or make a big deal out of it if students giggle. It's funny. It even goes to show the shallowness of Dr. Horrible's nemesis, Captain Hammer, and how he hides his true self from everyone by Billy who is in awe at their blindness--the references are not just there because sex sells. They have a purpose.
2. If you don't talk to them about what musicals can do as literary genres and point of view, many students will act too macho whenever a character begins to sing. They will guffaw, turn away, or in some other way act like it's silly. Just tell them that they are mature, young adults and that you have a Plan B if they can't handle this. Then after you show them the movie, tell them what you saw that you liked about how they were audience members.

I feel like I can guarantee success with this one. Let's just say that it would be hard to fail. Your students will love it, and you will never be accused of trying to get out of teaching for awhile by merely showing a film to your class.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2008
I was fortunate enough to have a fellow Whedon fan forward me to Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long blog in the short week it was initially available for free. Soon after, I bought digital downloads. Soon after that, I bought the soundtrack. It mirrored my obsession of Buffy The Vampire Slayer's episode "Once More With Feeling"; the songs get stuck in my head for days, and I never mind them being there.

You'd think that I wouldn't need this DVD since I already have access to its content in several different mediums. Think again.

This DVD also contains "Commentary! The Musical!" featuring additional musical content as voice over commentary, with more music than the actual set of webisodes themselves! This is in addition to a standard commentary with the writers and stars, and making-of content.

This is a must have for fans of the Whedon family, fans of Neil Patrick Harris, and fans of good musicals.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
DR. HORRIBLE is easily the most celebrated creation directly for the Internet. GEMINI DIVISION has come out since DR. HORRIBLE and is getting some good reviews in some quarters, but it has garnered nothing like the praise. Repeatedly over the years, Joss Whedon has managed to match or exceed expectations. No wonder that he managed to do so again with this gem. And it easily stands as the most remarkable thing that Neil Patrick Harris has done.

It is nothing short of amazing how much on the cutting edge that either Whedon or his creations have been over the past 15 years. He helped write the screenplay for the first computer animated film, TOY STORY. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER alone was an epic of "firsts." Buffy Summers was close to the first powerful female hero to be found on TV. Xena beat her by a couple of years (though not if you count the BUFFY movie), but Xena seems to have influenced few if any subsequent female heroes, while Buffy seems to inform them all. BUFFY pretty much invented the TV concept of the Body Count, whereby important and notable characters are killed off, completely upturning the prior convention that no recurring characters on a show were to meet untimely deaths). BUFFY was the first series to successfully employ the long narrative arc, building entire seasons around a single story. BUFFY was also the first series to be heavily downloaded on the Internet. This took place because of the decision of the WB to pull two episodes off the schedule after the Columbine High School shootings. The episodes were broadcast in Canada, where some fans made copies of them and uploaded them to the Internet. As a result, "Earshot" and "Graduation, Part 2" became the first heavily downloaded episodes in the history of television. Also, while BUFFY was not the first series to have a musical episode, "Once More With Feeling" was unquestionably the most successful. And while other series came out on DVD prior to BUFFY, it was one of the series to find the pricing "sweet spot" of around $40. Prior series like the STAR TREK and X-FILES franchises had been priced to high to generate big sales.

Similarly, FIREFLY anticipated many of the alterations to Sci-fi that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would wrought. No aliens, low tech, no magic science, hand held cameras, use of zoom on both regular cameras and on CGI "cameras" would all be reemployed on BSG.

And BUFFY also became the first TV series to be continued in comic form (ANGEL would follow shortly). Many, many series have continued in noncanonical form, but this was the first series to continue in canonic fashion, with the creator at the helm. Since the advent of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Season 8 on Darkhorse comics several other TV creators have contemplated continuing their shows as a comic, including Rob Thomas (VERONIC MARS) and Bryan Fuller (the tragically cancelled PUSHING DAISIES).

In other words, it is hardly surprising that Joss Whedon, who has been out in front on so many other projects, would be out in front on exploring just what you could do on the Internet.

That this is good is hardly a surprise given the astonishing quality of "Once More With Feeling," the great musical episode from BUFFY Season 6. This has a far smaller cast, but what there is is outstanding. As I said above, Neil Patrick Harris has never been this good before (and he has on several occasions expressed interest in a sequel, to which I reply, "Bring it on!"). He sings in a wonderfully unaffected light tenor and manages to express all the nuances of his character. As a blogger who aspires to join the Evil League of Evil (led by Bad Horse -- at the end of the musical we discover that Bad Horse is, indeed, a horse), Harris couldn't be better. Felicia Day, who played one of the potentials in BUFFY Season 7, was unexpectedly delightful as Horrible's love interest Penny. And the always magnificent Nathan Fillion is wonderful in the project's third major character and Horrible's nemesis Captain Hammer. There are also some great cameos by writers who have gone on to other television series, but who made their mark as writers on BUFFY, including David Fury (now a major contributor to 24) and Marti Noxon (now show runner of PRIVATE PRACTICE, formerly show runner of BUFFY in Seasons 6 and 7) as newscasters, and Drew Goddard (currently a writer on LOST, recently the writer of CLOVERFIELD, and director and co-writer with Joss Whedon of the forthcoming film THE CABIN IN THE WOODS) as "Fake Thomas Jefferson" of the Evil League of Evil.

As befitting a Joss Whedon creation, this does not end as you think it will. Some object to that. I celebrate it. The ending had far more of an emotional impact on me than I anticipated. Joss Whedon has stated that as a writer it is his job not to always give his viewers what they think they want, but what they actually need. That applies here.

All in all, this is another amazing chapter is a long line of amazing creations by Joss Whedon, wonderfully performed and executed by some great performers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2010
Movie 5.0

I was first introduced to the existence of Dr. Horrible a couple of years ago during the summer of '08 when the writer's strike was still in effect. I was instant messaging with a friend of mine in California when she mentioned something called "Dr. Horrible," and she wouldn't leave me alone because I had no idea what she was talking about. So she found me some streaming links of the show, I watched them, and found them thoroughly amusing. A year later, I finally discovered Joss Whedon's masterpiece in Firefly and its man-child Serenity, developing a new respect that is probably more prevalent in the rampant fandom out there than anything else. And another year after that, in only my second viewing of Dr. Horrible I think I'm starting to see why Joss has so many fans. Dr. Horrible is an oddity, to say the least. Its short running time, low-budget roots, Internet crowd, and yet addicting quirkiness have come to entertain millions of people. But with star power like Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, is it any surprise? While only running a mere 42 minutes (the equivalent of a single TV series episode), I find it amazing how so much comedy, drama, and tragedy were crammed in. And to top it all of, it's a musical, but not just any musical, a supervillain musical! Such subtle emotions like love, hope, and a greater calling to do good (or horrible) things is just one of the many characteristics I think any person goes through, be they regular Joe's or aspiring super people. NPH, in all of his natural charisma, plays the role of Dr. Horrible flawlessly. I never watched Doogie Howser growing up, but the "cool guy" image he's had ever since Harold & Kumar has been a joy to watch. Nathan Fillion is essentially an egomaniac superhero that, if you're any familiar with his work in the Firefly universe, makes for some great comedy relief. And finally, Felicia Day plays the cute damsel and love interest of the two with great, uh.. cuteness. Props to her for a beautiful singing voice, too. If you've yet to see this, Dr. Horrible is an over-the-top, silly, and wacky musical satire concoction that's short in length, but certainly a winner.

Video - 4.0

Being a made-for-Internet production and filmed in a total of two weeks, you'd think something low-budget like Dr. Horrible wouldn't translate well to BD. But in fact, it actually looks pretty good. The color scheme doesn't amount itself to much outside of Dr. Horrible's lab coat, Captain Hammer's black t-shirt, and various amounts of street clothes, but image detail is still quite good. Skin textures are relatively tight, and contrast levels give the overall picture a kind of cartoony look. On the flip side, there's also a lot of noise in the darker or more dimly-lit scenes, and a few instances of artifacts/debris pop up every now and then. There's also the issue of contrast getting blown out of proportion during the "special effects" sequences, like when a giant Dr. Horrible is wreaking havoc on the city. But given that the budget was probably half the cost of some sports cars, I think it looks great.

Audio - 4.5

Dr. Horrible is presented with a very excellent DTS-HD 5.1 track that better captures the true essence of the show. Dialogue is clean-cut from the center channel with what few, if any, sound effects coming mainly from the front sound stage. But the real star of the show (the music) is phenomenally delivered and dispersed throughout every speaker. Accompaniment itself actually has a decent amount of separation from the vocals resulting in a fine representation of the show's soundtrack. High and low ends of the music/vocals never waver and almost make you think it should just be an audio BD. Integration of the pre-recorded songs to the video are flawless as well, and the BD as a whole really does justice to the musical numbers. The only downside, really, is the lack of LFEs. There is one point in the show where something blows up making for a quick little rumble, but that's it. Certainly, the music sounds as good as it ever will, though.

Extras - 5.0

Comes with 2 commentaries, making-of, Evil League of Evil application videos, outtakes, and a brief interview with the ELE itself. Probably the funniest and most innovative special I've experienced yet, though, is the musical commentary. Whedon and gang actually went through the trouble of composing and constructing songs and dialogue in a semi-Broadway fashion to fill in pretty much every single second of the feature's run time. Dialogue is high-pitched and fast just like you'd hear on stage, and a lot of the songs are quite entertaining, yet perfectly comprehensible as potential standalone commentaries themselves. It's just as strange, quirky, and fun as the show itself. Also of high entertainment value are the ELE applications. Much of the applicants are very creative considering these are low-budget and fan-made, and I think it's awesome that Whedon was cool enough to actually put them on the disc. The making-of is only about 20 minutes, but provides quite a bit of insight to the composition of the idea, the music, and the casting. Rounding it all out is a painfully short ELE interview, which is funny in its own right, but I would've loved more Fake Thomas Jefferson and Dead (David) Bowie screen time. All in all, the extras are a joy to watch and compliment the feature very well.

Overall - 4.5

In the last couple of years, Joss Whedon has really managed to capture my attention with his brilliant attention to quirkiness. First was Firefly and Serenity, and now now Dr. Horrible. The comedy is subtle, snarky, and genuinely funny all at the same time. With outstanding performances by the main three cast and a very catchy soundtrack, Dr. Horrible became an Internet sensation, and rightfully so. Presented by New Video with adequate video, excellent audio, and all the goofy extras that were on the DVD, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog comes highly recommended an is a must-have for Whedonites.
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