This will be my first review, as per the request of a friend of mine who keeps hearing about it. The first time I mentioned Dr. Horrible was in my post Tragedy, Comedy, Dramedy, where I compared Doctor Horrible and Doctor who while analyzing the potential for tragedy in fiction. Comparing is one thing, actually reviewing is something else.
My first encounter with Doctor Horrible was another friends status message: “Doctor Horrible is taking over the internet!” I watched the video she linked to (go on, watch it) and instantly had to know more.
What I found was a musical, science fiction-steampunk short, made for Internet on a shoe-string budget during a writer’s strike. If that isn’t awesome enough, the movie was also brilliant.
Plot: During the first five minutes of the film we learn several important things. Dr. Horrible is a villain. He’s also very bad at being villainous. He has a serious crush on a girl named Penny who he sees every week at the laundromat, and his nemesis is a hero called Captain Hammer. Dr. Horrible’s goal is to get admitted to the Evil League of Evil but his admission heist is thwarted by Captain Hammer, inadvertently causing him to meet Penny.
Theme: What differentiates a hero and a villain? Doctor Horrible is a villain by one set of standards. He’s a mad inventor who plans to take over the world, has an almost Scrooge like view of the human race, and has the thoroughbred of Sin as his role model. Captain Hammer is always saving the world whenever Doctor Horrible makes an attempt against it, and that automatically puts him in the class of hero. But apart from that Horrible has all the traits we admire in a protagonist. When he’s not a villain he’s an ordinary guy with friends. He’s in love with Penny, but he’s very respectful of her. He wants to give her the world and let her rule beside him. He abhores killing, and talks about solving humanities problems by taking out the government rather then simply dealing with symptoms. By contrast Captain Hammer has no morals, is a lustful, wanton man who isn’t against hurting other people just to get back at Horrible. While there will always be some who think he’s “cool” for that type of behavior the majority hate him for it, siding with the so-called villain.
Music: The music is absolutely incredible. The songs are pretty short, but then so is the entire film. (Only 45 minutes.) Doctor Horrible sings of death and despair in duet with Penny who’s life and songs are filled with hope and compassion. Captain Hammer is self-serving and arrogant. The counterpoint is perfectly arranged, and the music and lyrics match moods in a way few musicals acheive. The music is absolutely one of my favorite parts about this film.
Will I let my little brother watch it? A lot of reviewers don’t rate content issues, and I know of a few who seem to only rate content. There’s nothing that makes me more annoyed then to sit down to watch a movie with my siblings and discover that I should have watched it by myself first. I wouldn’t let my siblings watch this one for the simple reason that Captain Hammer, the so-called hero, repeatedly makes vulgar jokes about Penny to enrage Horrible. They’re very effective at making us hate the character, but not exactly the kind of vocabulary you want young kids picking up. It’s surprisingly clean otherwise; no violence, and not a lot of swearing that I can even remember.