Don't Be Afraid Of What You Might Not Understand
The bloody musical (It's not a full opera for there is some spoken dialogue) takes 4 stories and laces them together almost like a big bleeding sweater. You see the whole thing and each individual thread. The first and main story involves young, blood-disease ridden Shiloh Wallace (Alexa Vega) getting her chance to see the world her father won't let her be a part of. The second is about Dr. Nathan Wallace (Anthony Stewart-Head), Shiloh's widowed doctor-father by day and a "night surgeon" after dark. Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino) stands masterfully at the middle of the third story, a dying tycoon who needs to leave his organ financing and repossessing company to one of his three children (Bill Mosely, Ogre, and Paris Hilton respectfully) but seems to have a special eye for Shiloh. The last story features renowned Soprano Sarah Brightman as Blind Mag, "The Voice of Geneco," Shiloh's god-mom and Nathan's next target for repossession. Guided through the spectacle by the Graverobber (Repo! Co-creator Terrance Zdunich), Patrons are ushered through a world of addictive pain-killers, legal assassins, and music.
Let us start off with the story. Taking few elements from stories previously heard or seen, Repo! does manage to bring something unique to the table. A futuristic world where elective surgery is the latest craze? Maybe it's not so futuristic in our every day lives but as far as I've observed, I don't see big guys dressed in awesome black trench-coats ripping out livers on the sidewalk every day. It's humorous all the different kinds of occupations the future can hold for us.
The acting? FUHGEHTABOUTIT! Both Stewart-Head and Sorvino lead the way as the Pro- and An- Tagonist. Stewart-Head plays Wallace like Jekyll and Hyde, switching back and forth from the caring and deeply-sympathetic doctor to the vicious and terrifying Repo Man. Sorvino on the other hand is a sinister majesty. Right from the get-go you get the vibe that you're not going to like him very much but at the same time, you're somewhat awed by his regality. Vega follows up as the heroine, portraying a young naive woman who just wants to see what's so bad about the world her father won't tell her about. It's a wonder how in the movie she retains some Innocence for most of the film. Brightman, who doesn't get a lot of screen time, holds her own as the caring blind opera singer. Her song with Shiloh is the best time for her character to truly shine. Ogre and Mosely deliver a humorous performance as the Largo brothers, each with their own problems and laughs. Even Paris Hilton manages to stay somewhat on her own as Amber Sweet, the spoiled rich daughter (as if she really had to act). Zdunich finishes off the cast as the charismatic Graverobber whom we barely see throughout the movie but are always glad when we do.
The music is where I imagine people begin to have problems. The styles range on different rock styles with ballads contributing frequently. For example, "Infected" introduces the viewer into the inner thoughts of Shiloh in an alternative feel where "Legal Assassin" thrusts you into a metal ballad that not only gets your heart pumping but also tries to tear it up. The lyrics are fairly simple to understand; what you hear is what you get. The only exclusion is Mag's "Chromaggia" which if you can understand Italian you might understand it better than me but I still appreciate it for the sad but powerful inflections Brightman sings. With each song you get something different from the previous and either you'll love it or you'll hate it. It is the music that makes the music after all.
The effects are nothing special but they are necessary which is something you don't see in movies recently. I've used the term bloody a lot but actually there is more gore than anything. You see small intestines and spines get ripped out of people but you don't get all the CG blood like Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street." You know they are just rubber toys but you can't help but cringe somewhat and more often than not, you're going to like it.
Please note that this movie is NOT "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and it NEVER will be. The biggest difference is in their style; Rocky brought camp and Repo! brought action/suspense. You can't have the audience participation with Repo! just like you cannot have the adrenaline rush you can get from Repo!. They are both great in their own rights and can never be compared to each other.
All-in-all, "Repo! The Genetic Opera" is a welcomed change of pace for the musical and/or gore lover. Watch it once and if you don't like it, think about what you didn't like, and watch it again. -Jayson B.