Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Neil Patrick Harris, Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion, Simon Helberg
Written by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by: Joss Whedon
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 43
Date: 07/15/2008
IMDB

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Live Evil

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

During the WGA strike of 2007-2008, Joss Whedon cooked up this ingenious little musical production, a 43-minute musical released on the web in three parts. Though it's still available, for free, New Video has released it on a new DVD in the hopes that viewers will want to add it to their library as well. It reminded me of nothing less than an Edgar G. Ulmer picture, making clever use of limited resources but with more than enough wit and imagination to overcome its obstacles.

Neil Patrick Harris stars in the title role, an evil supervillian -- with a good heart -- who wants two things. He wants to join the Evil League of Evil, and he wants to go out with that cute girl from the Laundromat, Penny (Felicia Day), to whom he can't muster up the courage to speak. As fate would have it, she speaks to him -- right in the middle of one of his evil deeds -- and the arrogant, selfish superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) comes along to "rescue" her. She begins "dating" the hero, leaving the heartbroken Dr. Horrible to throw himself into his work, creating his evil "freeze ray."

Characters occasionally break into song, and Dr. Horrible narrates these events on a kind of video blog, with his old-fashioned movie laboratory in the background. Simon Helberg co-stars as Moist, another supervillain with the ability to make things damp. As on the famous "Buffy" episode Once More, with Feeling (2001), the songs here are funny and sweet and not a little touching, and Whedon films the numbers with fluid ease. Better still, the compact story does not go where you would expect, and it leaves off with a kind of stunning click.

In 2010, New Video released a terrific-looking Blu-Ray edition. Like the DVD, it comes with "Commentary! The Musical," a new, all-musical commentary track with the cast and creators, as well as a more traditional commentary track. Then we get a making-of featurette, and other funny videos.

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