Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
Genre: Musical
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Last year, I almost travelled 2 hours to watch the limited release of Repo! The Genetic Opera in the theaters. After watching it last night, I am glad that I didn't waste the time and effort to get to it. Though ripe with unbridled potentials, the movie's operatic vision is just muddled by poor directions and a near-catatonic script.

In Repo!, the future is a bleak place where many are dead and dying due to a strange affliction involving organ failures. GeneCo, founded by Rotti Largo, steps in to save humanity by matching the demand for organ replacements with a catch - those who are unable to pay off their debt to GeneCo would have their organs repossessed by Repo Men... Without the use of sedatives. The film focuses on the company's top Repo Man and how his past is entangled with Rotti's own. Another main character is the Repo Man's 17-year old daughter, Shilo, who has been living her whole life inside a huge mansion. She becomes the vehicle of the film's narrative where the audience is introduced to the unfolding events as she encounters them. The story tries to copy the best of tragedies in the Shakespearean fashion: a) The set up is long and filled with many details involving the characters' past. b) There is a fine line separating the hero and the villian of the tale. c) Almost all of the characters are flawed to a fault. Unfortunately, though the build up gets tasty, the pay off is tragically lacking.

The main problem with the movie is the cast. Mind you, this is a musical but most of the singing done here is downright horrendous. And no, they are not intentionally bad. Shilo for example may as well be played by Britney Spears. These actors were trying so hard to sing that they even forgot to enunciate the words. There are a couple of exceptions - Paul Sorvino sounded pretty good and of course Sarah Brightman brought the Opera into The Genetic Opera. Since almost all of the spoken dialogues in the movie are sung, it feels like you are stuck in a bad karaoke bar for the most part. The next problem is a bit harder to pinpoint since I didn't see the movie in the theater - some scenes are shot out of focus. I'm telling you, it was hard enough to listen to the pathetic singing and the last thing I wanted was to see some Vaseline being rubbed on the camera lens. Then there is the issue with the script. The lyrics are just too overly dramatic, which is befitting of an opera, but without the grandeur voices to sing them, they become flat and uninteresting.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult classic that is also a well-made, artsy movie that explores the common sexuality in all of us under the guise of parody. And oh, it just happens to be a musical with a lot of memorable numbers. Repo! The Genetic Opera is bound to be a cult classic - because of its musical theatre origin, like Rocky - that tries to be cool with its futuristic sensibility and morality play. But, it is also a bad movie. I am giving it a rating of 2 because of the two magnificent performances by Sarah Brightman that can be found within. Everything else is not worth revisiting.

RATING: 2 out of 5

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