I’m not sure whether it counts as a “proper” film, at only about 45 minutes in length, but what the heck. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a musical comedy about superheroes and supervillains released over the internet in three acts. Directed by Joss Whedon, the man behind Avengers Assemble and The Cabin in the Woods, it stars Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, The Smurfs) as the titular villain who posts about his attempts to be recognised by The Evil League of Evil on his video blog.
Dr Horrible was made on a small budget during the 2008 writer’s strike, and proves that great films don’t necessarily need to have a massive blockbuster budget. Because of this the cast is small and close-knit. Patrick Harris lends a sense of warmth and humanity to the Doctor, a character which could have easily come across as whiny and unlikeable in the wrong hands. This is contrasted to his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, Firefly, Castle), an arrogant and egotistical superhero. Fillion creates this persona of self-centredness well, which was at times uncomfortable to watch (but never in a bad way) since Captain Hammer is drastically different to the other characters the audience are used to see him play. This is refreshing to not see him typecast as the morally right, loveable rogue.
Both of these characters come into conflict over Penny (Felicia Day, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Penny is a traditional shy and caring, girl-next-door stock character, and therefore the least mesmerising of the three leads, but the effect she has on Dr Horrible and his unrequited love has an impact on the viewers. Even the minor roles shine through, with an honourable mention going to Simon Helberg as Moist, Dr Horrible’s sidekick, who gets a few laughs and feels like he just walked on set as his most well-known role, Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory.
I tend not to watch a lot of musicals, but the songs here are ridiculously catchy. I found myself humming to the tunes of the songs days after watching it. This is balanced by the snappy script that most Joss Whedon fans have come to expect. As well as getting a few one-liners in, the film is packed with emotion, especially the ending. The final shot of the movie is powerful and really sticks with you.
In spite of its criminally short running time, Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is an entertaining and spectacular experience. The two strong leads carry a well-written script, packed with humour and emotion, all set to an amazing soundtrack. And since it was created for online distribution, there really is no excuse to take 45 minutes out of your life and watch it.