I heard about this movie a lot when it came out in 2008. It was one of those weird movies that I might like. It’s a post apocalyptic cyberpunk, which I am a huge fan of. But it’s apparently a musical, which I try to avoid. But it’s rock music that’s in the format of an opera, which shouldn’t be bad. So, I’m already torn going into it, so I try to have an open mind.
The story is about a not-too-distant future where a global epidemic is causing organs to fail for a lot of people. A large corporation comes in and creates artificial organs for the citizens, for a price. Then they explain that they muscle in a constitutional amendment to allow them to collect the organs if payment is not made. So the “Repo” part of the title is the legal murderers who take the organs back. In other words, the premise to the 2010 Jude Law movie Repo Men was a blatant rip off of this movie.
The story revolves a young girl named Shilo, played by the young talent with a bright future, Alexa Vega, who is suffering from a blood condition and is locked up Cinderella style by her father. The movie also centers around the owner of Geneco, the company that has all the organs for sale, played by Paul Sorvino, who is also dying and must choose which one of his annoying kids takes over his business, kind of like King Lear.
When I said it was a musical, well it’s more to it than that. Everyone is singing, all the time. It’s gets grinding after a while because it feels like they are shoehorning this gimmick throughout the entire movie. There are some good songs in the movie, but the rest is just a combination of singing and music. It’s not always as smooth as you see in musicals like Sound Of Music, or even the South Park movie. They could have just wrote several songs, and acted the rest of the way, or remove some of the unnecessary dialogue and let the actions tell the story, like you see in actual operas. And there is one scene where Vega is singing in her room about being defiant to her dad, but it sounded and felt like an Avril Levigne song. It’s not her fault, but it’s the new stigma about teens singing rock music.
Of all the performances in the movie, they all just get a shrug of indifference. But I can say that three actors stand out in this.
One was who played the father, played by Anthony Stewart Head of Buffy fame. This shocked my friends that I knew that, because I hated the Buffy series, but recognized him immediately. His songs were more catchy, and he had those evil faces working perfectly, they were freaky in a way. When you walk away thinking that if anyone else took that role, it would have sucked, you know as an actor, you did that part justice.
Another was Terrance Zdunich, who played the grave robber, who also played the grave robber in the short that this film came from. He was standing out with his songs, and his dialog was really important to the story. He grabbed the camera, figuratively, and stood out as a bright star.
The last one was Paris Hilton. How does she stand out? Because it was horrible. She was like a robotic Pinocchio. I don’t have a clue why she was in it, but she ruined was could have been an interesting character. It’s no wonder she won a Razzie award for worst actress. She was the Jar Jar Binks of the movie.
The visuals in the movie is also something to mention. I love the settings, and the make-up and costumes. It has the feel of a cyberpunk film, and immerses into the world it creates. You can actually see the seeds of creativity in a lot of the scenes. Even the simple opera house scene where Sarah Brightman sings is just beautiful in both atmosphere and sound.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad, but it sure wasn’t phenominal. It definitely has a niche audience, but the movie is doing way too much and really has no direction. One of the big disapponting factor is that of all the music in the film, it should have been more memorable than it was. If you think of musicals like Grease and Lion King, the music is catchy, even well after the movie is over. Repo’s music is mostly forgettable, save a couple of the tunes.
I am also disappointed in the fact that it could have led to more horror-based cyberpunk movies, or even rock musicals. I mean, wouldn’t it have been cool to see this movie inspire musicians to make similar rock musicals, like Trent Reznor or Rob Zombie. But it just stops with this movie as being unique, and it succeeds in me wanting to see more of the same.
The movie is different enough that you should see it at least once, to know for sure whether you like it or not. Because to be honest, it’s hard to recommend or not recommend the movie. It’s hard to suggest the movie based on the movies you liked before. You might be into these weird movies, but hate this one, or you might actually be surprised by how good it is. It really is a movie based on individual preference, and has a potential to be a surprise hit for one person, instead of a group of movie-goers.