Web-Based Shows On DVD: Dr. Horrible & Angel of Death

dr horrible In an odd twist of fate, I watched two DVDs made up of material that was originally intended for the internet. First up, Em and I watched Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. I remember when it was coming out online, but I wasn’t really high on Whedon at that point because I didn’t love Astonishing X-Men and I hadn’t yet watched Firefly, so I didn’t mind skipping it. But, after watching through Buffy all the way through again and really enjoying the Firefly/Serenity world, I put the DVD on our queue. Of course, after the slew of horror movies I watched in October, it got pushed back. Anyway, we finally watched it and both really liked it.

But really, this thing was designed for us to like it. It’s written by Whedon and stars two guys from shows we both love: Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother and Nathan Fillion from Castle and Firefly. Plus, there’s singing, which Em loves. And superheroes which we’re both fans of. So, yeah, you couldn’t get much more inside our wheelhouse. I’m sure everyone’s already seen it and I’m the last person on the planet to check it out, but I will say that the ending really surprised me. Here you think you’re watching this fun, light goofy movie and then kablammo. I guess I should have expected it from Whedon (this is the guy who now has me looking at every horror scene and trying to figure out what the twist will be – the GIRL is the vampire, not the guy!). But still, wow. I didn’t see that ending coming.

angel of deathThe other web-based movie I watched was Angel of Death and this one was completely random. I added the movie to my queue solely because Zoe Bell is in it and I find her incredibly attractive and she’s an ass-kicker, so I figured it would be a good action movie, even though I wasn’t familiar with it. And yeah, even though I didn’t like Death Proof and I’m still not sure if I like her acting (I can’t tell if her delivery is off just a tad or if it’s just her accent), I was still excited. Then I popped the DVD in and it said “Ed Brubaker’s Angel of Death” and I freaked out a little bit. I can’t believe I haven’t written more about Brubaker on this site, but his Captain America is one of the greatest long-term comic book series’ of all time. You’re doing yourself a disservice by not reading that comic.

So, I did a little searching online and remembered when this thing was coming out. I guess it was webisodes or whatever. But, watching it all together on the DVD, it really did feel like a movie instead of a serial. Plot-wise, you’ve got Bell playing a hitwoman who gets stabbed in the head and starts feeling bad about accidentally killing a little girl, so now she goes on a revenge kick killing the bad guys. I can’t say I was paying 100% attention, but I didn’t really have to. Aside from Bell, Doug Jones and Lucy Lawless were in it. Ted Raimi’s also in it, but I honestly didn’t see him. I really should pay more attention.

Anyway, I’m torn about the movie. It’s nothing spectacular, though it LOOKS fantastic. Like I said, it doesn’t feel like a web-based series (though neither does the Totally Rad Show podcast, so take that for what it’s worth), but it also doesn’t feel like the high caliber of story I’m used to from Brubaker. Maybe that’s because his comics deal in genres that aren’t as popular in comics as they are in movies. The noir thing is pretty common in films, but not comics. So, Bru writing a noir/70s-ish movie doesn’t seem as groundbreaking as his comics. To be fair, though, I probably should give the disc another watch (I’m not going to now though).

I also watched a few of the special features on the DVD (there are a good number) which were kind of interesting. There’s a whole feature about Bru which is cool, though listening to Bell call him a geek is both funny and a little cringeworthy. I also had a much more curmudgeonly view of Bru from my days at Wizard, though he was incredibly nice the time I talked to him for a big Captain American retrospective Wizard did about three years back. I guess you just assume he’s grim and gritty because he does that so well, but in the doc he comes off as a dude whose dream is coming true by being able to jump from comics to movies and I certainly can’t blame him. As a hopeful comic writer myself (I’ve finally getting some outlines together for submissions) he’s absolutely one of my heroes and I can only hope for a career (if it happens) even remotely similar to his. Well done Ed!

Train-ing Video: Death Proof (2007)

I was incredibly excited for Grindhouse and planned on seeing it in the theaters, but it wasn’t meant to be. The marketing folks decided that this Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino jam fest should come on, when else, but Easter weekend? Well, I had to go to New England, so I missed it while all my friends, who were still here, went. Soon enough, Grindhouse wasn’t in theaters anymore and I had to wait until the movies came out on DVD as Death Proof (Tarantino) and Planet Terror (Rodriguez). I checked them out, dug Planet Terror and was left feeling lukewarm towards Death Proof, which bummed me out cause I’m a big Tarantino fan. I gave it another shot on the train yesterday and, unfortunately, was left with the same feeling.

The first time I watched DP, I actually fell asleep just before the big switch in main characters, so I didn’t realize how it would take a Psycho-like turn and follow completely different characters for the rest of the movie. Something very similar happened to me when I first watched Usual Suspects.

Anyway, I don’t have any problem with that switch, what I do have a problem with is the tone. I understand that the film was shot to look like an old grindhouse movie and is written to match, but the problem from me comes from the inconsistencies I noticed. See, the first group of girls all seemed pretty real and fleshed out even when they’re spurting out some of Quentin’s clunkiest and most repetitive dialogue. But then, the second group of girls flips the script and happen to be these caricatures of humanity who have no problem beating a man to death and leaving their fried by herself with a highly suspect individual in the middle of nowhere. I understand them wanting revenge and maybe the two stuntwomen being a little off their rockers, but why does Rosario Dawson’s character want to kill him so bad, going so far as to kick his head in? I didn’t get it. And the “It’s like a grindhouse movie, duh!” argument doesn’t hold up when the first half of the movie didn’t reflect that aesthetic.

I also found Kim to be incredibly annoying. I get it, she’s from the street, I don’t need to be reminded of it with every single piece of dialogue she spouts off. Other than Kim, though, I really liked the rest of the characters and would like to know what happened to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character (and why she was wearing a cheerleader costume throughout the whole thing, I don’t buy Dawson’s explanation).

But that’s not all, I also hated how much of a pansy Stuntman Mike turns into. Kurt Russell did SUCH a great job of making him likable at first, but then completely terrifying, but then, as soon as he gets shot, he starts crying? Seriously? I like the idea of flipping the script and putting him at a disadvantage, but seeing him be such a bitch just makes me want to see him dead NOW and you’ve got to sit through a long car chase to get there.

In a weird twist of fate, we got the fourth disc of Alias Season 1 today, which boasts a two part episode called “The Box” (2002) which stars none other than Tarantino himself. This was during a few year period where he would pop up with a different TV project every now and then. Anyone else remember his episodes of CSI where the dude who would voice Captain Atom in the JLU cartoon was buried alive? Good stuff. It looks like he only acted in the part in Alias, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote his own dialogue as well because it definitely has that Tarantino vibe to it.

I’ll get more into my thoughts on Alias when we’re done with the first season, but this was definitely one of the better episodes and Tarantino does a great job of playing an unhinged man.

And, of course, even with all the above things I disliked about Death Proof I’m still crazy-excited for Inglourious Basterds which drops in a few. Never let it be said that I’m a fair weather fan!