Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Repo Madness

Hey, kids, wanna talk about something fun?

I watched Repo! The Genetic Opera last night. It wasn't... quite... the worst thing I've ever seen.

Now, I'd like to take this moment to interject: Of course I hadn't seen it yet; with everyone and their favorite aunt telling me that I simply had to see it, it's just amazing, can I really be blamed for avoiding it like the plague? Especially after I watched Rent under similar recommendations and was thoroughly disappointed. And double especially because Repo! has been referred to, in my presence, as "our generation's Rocky Horror."

Which I don't like, either.

But, hey, Repo!. (On a totally unrelated side note, the fact that I'm grammatically obligated to type the title with a ! every time... and then go on to properly punctuate is hair-meltingly annoying.)

Let's start with that most vital part of an opera: music. Now, I can be snobbily purist about a lot of things, and while opera is one of them, I can appreciate one that's not in Italian or German. That said, I really wasn't fond of this. For one thing, the singers veered wildly between a classic operatic sound and a more metal harshness for no apparent reason. It wasn't stylistically relevant and didn't add anything to the music.

The songs themselves are a mixed bag of the truly awful, the barely passable, and the simply wonderful. Thankless Job and Zydrate Anatomy are great songs, well performed; Gold and Infected are mediocre songs patchily performed; Mark It Up and Seventeen are glass-chewingly bad from start to finish with a bonus "WTF, is that Joan Jett?" (I wish I was kidding.)

There are some people who stand out: Anthony Head and Sarah Brightman. Yup, that's it. No one else is worth noting or watching at all. Don't get me wrong, they can all sing (minus Paris Hilton, though she got totally typecast and afforded me with a bit of meta-humor), but most of them couldn't sell it. Shilo is supposed to be our primary protagonist, but neither she nor the show ever made me care about her.

This show had some shining moments, but sadly they were all technical. Easily Repo!'s greatest strength lies in the creation of the world itself. It's fantastic; Darkly steampunk with a mix of Johnny Mnemonic and Orwellian dystopia, it fits the story (such as it is) perfectly. The director also made a brilliant choice by never showing us enough to be overwhelming, as such a thorough world can occasionally be. There were sweeping establishment shots, but they primarily showed us familiar things in new settings. Like the carnival-thing where we saw comfortable, familiar things like jugglers and fire-breathers lightly interspersed with the set pieces unique to the world, like the tent that Shilo hides in.

Which reminds me: Grave Robber. I have much hate for Grave Robber. Much. Hate.

We got off on the wrong foot from the start because he looks like every blood elf male ever (Deny it. Just you try).

At the beginning I thought that he was our narrator, which I was cool with. But then he was distinctly a character. Then he was a narrator again. And a character. And a character, and then a narrator.


Yes, the narrator as character has been well done. That is one thing I'll give to Rent: Using Mark as the narrator through the guise of his filming their lives was brilliant and I've seen it done very well. You know who else did it well? Into the Woods, where the narrator is just a narrator until he gets eaten by a giant in the second act as a genius moment of fourth-wall-breaking awesome.

Grave Robber can't function as both a narrator and a character for one reason only: There's no framing device. Nothing to separate GR Narrator and GR Character from each other. This is annoying to no end and it break immersion every time he comes on screen. Every. Time.

On the whole: Repo! is alright. I'll never watch it again (barring the possibility of torture), but it was so well done technically that I'm reluctant to call it outright bad.


Well, that turned into a review rather rapidly, didn't it? Sorry 'bout that.


  1. It's been a while since you've posted something; I guess you're very busy.

    I wonder if you've ever considered reviewing Torchwood? I've watched the first eight episodes so far off of Netflix, and only now does it seem to be getting vaguely interesting.

  2. You know, last week I was asked specifically to review Torchwood. It's on my list.