Sunday, November 1, 2009

Repo! The Genetic Opera - WTF?

Yes, kids...WTF means "What the fooey?" Just ask your parents.

My wife and I found the perfect Halloween that left us scratching our heads and asking each other, "Did we just share the same hallucination?" The movie is called "Repo! The Genetic Opera". It is a goth sci-fi horror rock opera. And you know that you just don't run into many of those at the family theatre these days

The movie has an impressive cast: Alexa Vega (definitely moving past her Spy Kids years), Anthony Stewart Head (very reminiscent of his Buffy the Vampire Slayer work), Paul Sorvino, Sarah Brightman, and a cast of others I had never heard of before. It also stars Paris Hilton perfectly cast as a character who needs to look alternately trampy and vapid. Not so much "vampy" as "trampid."

The backdrop of the movie, a goth sci-fi horror rock opera, is definitely original. In the future, an epidemic of organ failures devasted the planet and GeneCo, a multi-billion dollar biotech company, emerged. GeneCo supplies organ transplantation for a profit, and the company offers financing for those who can not afford new organs. Of course, if you can not make your payments, an organ repo man comes to collect your organs. Due to a bill passed by Congress, organ repossesion (carried out by skilled assassin surgeons) is now legal.

Onto this rather gruesome cinematic canvas comes a bizarre story of Nathan Wallace, an organ repo man (Anthony Stewart Head) who's daughter (Alexa Vega) has a rare blood disease that she's been told she inherited from her mother. She doesn't know that her dad is a legal assassin and not a doctor as he claims, but as she escapes from her room, which has become her prison both methaphorically and practically, she starts to discover just how dangerous the world is around her.

The president of GeneCo, Rotti Largo, is dying and must find an heir. Too bad his children are all murderous, psychotic nincompoops (this is my description, not can't use "nincompoop" in a goth sci-fi horror rock opera). And, as you will find out, Rotti is not only Nathan's boss but responsible for the death of his wife 17 years ago...even though Nathan blames himself for her death.

Oh, and there's a graverobber who steals dead bodies to steal their fluids to make Zydrate, a cheap, highly addictive pain killer used by people who are addicted to multiple surgeries.

At this point, you are either a) curious about the idea, b) totally sold on the concept, or c) already losing your lunch in the toilet just at my description. If you are c), you should probably skip this one, particularly since it was made by the producers of the "Saw" movies. It is definitely not a movie that I could in good conscious call "good" or even "above average," but it is definitely engaging, enthralling, and very, very different.

It has Anthony Stewart Head who is a fine actor who can alternately do bookish everyman, hardened psychotic killer, and rock singer...and have you believe all three. It has Sarah Brightman, who lends some gravitas to the opera part of the rock opera. It has Alexa Vega, who is a rising pop star and effective actress in her own right. It has Paul Sorvino playing the bad guy and singing (who knew?). And it has Paris Hilton. But frankly she doesn't get in the way of the experience as much as you would think.

It is an experience. Whether you find it a good experience, bad experience, or overly medicated experience depends a lot on you. But no matter who you are, you will definitely come out of the movie asking, "What the fooey?"

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