JANUARY 28, 2009
Now that Repo: The Genetic Opera is on DVD, I figured I’d review the film’s extras in case you had some hesitation about buying the DVD. Or, more specifically, the Blu-Ray. While the DVD has a pair of commentaries and two featurettes, the Blu-Ray has a lot more content (since the film is only 97 minutes long, I am puzzled why so many of these features were left off of the standard disc), including additional songs. But even on standard def it should still take you about four hours to go through all of the supplemental material.
The bulk of that time will be spent on the two commentaries; one is with Darren Bousman along with Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith (who wrote the songs/script) and music producer Joe Bishara. As Bousman points out himself, this isn’t a commentary where everyone talks about how much fun they had; the participants spend a great deal of time discussing the various struggles in getting the film made, from songs that producers wanted cut from the film to having a union member turn on an electronic prop. The other track, with Ogre, Bill Moseley, and Alexa Vega (and Bousman again) is more fun – Moseley likes to make wisecracks and Alexa has a penchant to sing lyrics along with the movie (not just hers). It’s more anecdotal than informational, and thankfully Bousman does not repeat himself (unlike Eli Roth, who tells the EXACT SAME STORIES on all three of his Cabin Fever tracks).
Then we get the trailer and a pair of featurettes, one about the transition from stage to screen that is pretty jam-packed with info considering how short it is (10 minutes), and the other about the song “Legal Assassin”. It’s a good piece but it’s taken directly from the website (it’s even presented in a little animated window), and thus the quality (particularly on the audio) is hardly demo quality. I wish LG had taken the time to remaster this properly for a DVD presentation, but considering their dismissal of the film as a whole, I guess we should be lucky the film is on DVD at all.
The Blu-Ray has all the same features, and more. Two additional featurettes (one on Amber, the other on Blind Mag) in the same vein as the Legal Assassin are again, presented in lousy standard def, though unlike on the standard DVD, they are full screen. Then we get “select scene commentary” with Bousman and Paris Hilton. Bousman admirably tries to keep Paris talking, but her comments are pretty short and to the point (“this was fun”, “I like this scene”, etc). Then there are four “sing along” tracks for the more popular songs, which is a nice offering for those who don’t already sing along anyway.
Of most interest to fans will be a collection of deleted scenes, which also have optional commentary by Bousman and Hilton. The first two are full blown songs, the other two are just brief interludes; all of them were cut for pacing reasons. My only gripe is that they are presented without context; “Needle Through A Bug” in particular makes absolutely no sense unless you listen to Bousman’s commentary, which explains at least some of what is going on (why Graverobber is hanging upside down throughout the scene remains a mystery).
The audio/picture is, of course, much better on the Blu-Ray, though tech nerds should remember that the film is intentionally soft focus and thus the image isn’t as “sharp” as they are used to. Still, detail and colors are much better (check out all the detail in Graverobber’s hair during “Zydrate Anatomy”), and the HD master audio track is superb. Since Repo’s theatrical appearances (at least in my experience) were in sub-par screening rooms and/or filled with people singing along, it’s actually the best I’ve heard it yet – a few lyrics I never quite deciphered are now as clear as day.
Repo was unfortunately not a big success in financial terms, and thus the DVD sales will determine any and all future the film has (sequels, director’s cuts, etc). So those of you who might be inclined to wait for the “ultimate DVD” or whatever (especially considering Bousman’s presence, since the Saw films ALWAYS have two editions) – there won’t BE one if folks don’t support the original release. Given the deep love and respect that the filmmakers have for the film and its fans, I am sure that any future release of Repo would be akin to the LOTR releases, with nothing recycled in terms of extras, making it a more enticing doubledip. Plus, the Blu-Ray can be found at a lower than average price, so I urge both fans and newbies alike to pick this one up. And if you are still on the fence regarding whether to upgrade to Blu-Ray: this release, with so much BR exclusive content, is a fine example of the studios’ efforts to steer you in that direction.