Sunday, August 29, 2010

The long overdue (and not very good) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World review

As you may know, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on the popular graphic novel series by Brian Lee O’Malley that appeared in six black and white volumes between 2004 and 2010. The film adaption was directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Grindhouse) and stars Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno) as the 23 year old slacker Scott Pilgrim. Basically, the plot revolves around the Toronto native and bass player for the band Sex Bob-omb falling in love with American delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but he must defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her.

This film hits the ground running. From the very moment the Universal logo appears on the screen, you’re dragged into Scott’s hyper real world and never given pause to think about it. It’s speedy, funny, and bittersweet, with such an entirely infectious spirit that just feels so inexpressibly right. The dialogue is packed full with deadpan humour and is perfectly delivered by a pitch perfect cast, interspersing the action with heart that may surprise many. The visuals are a pop-art feast of stylistic hyper colour, subverting a recognisable real world with layers of imagery taken lovingly from video games.

Scott’s gay roommate Wallace Wells (played brilliantly by Kieran Culkin) is arguably one of the best characters gracing movie theatre screens at this very moment, commenting on Scott’s life while having his own. He simultaneously embodies the notion of quintessential gay roommate and yet completely subverts the stereotype – probably worth a post in its own right, if I had time (which I don’t.) After Scott has his heart broken by Envy (Brie Larson), who has become a successful rock star, he pursues an innocent romance with naive high schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) with activities mainly including visits to the thrift shop and hours of Dance Dance Revolution.

For Knives, Scott and Sex Bob-omb are pretty much the coolest thing ever and she rapidly becomes the very embodiment of a band fangirl. Anyone who has ever loved a band will quickly identify with Sex Bob-omb, consisting of tormented lead singer/guitarist Stephen Stills (Mark Webber), scowling drummer Kim Pine (Alison Pill) and (what Abbi and I would call) the unemployed friend who sort of just hangs around, Young Neil (Johnny Simmons). Music is incredibly important to the tone of the film – Sex Bob-omb’s songs were written by Beck and performed by the cast.

Scott is quite content in basking in the reflected coolness and Knives’ adoration until he meets Ramona Flowers, cool girl extraordinaire. Sadly for Scott however, Ramona’s romantic history is one fraught with danger, and he must defeat each of her seven evil exes united to keep her from dating again. The battle sequences that follow are as much action sequence as witty repartee, the frenetic visuals adding that edge of slightly manic enjoyment that characterises Wright’s earlier spoof films. As the battles progress, the exes’ powers and Scott’s are tallied up and he progresses from one to the other, from level to level, in a way that’s instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever played any sort of game – aided by fast cuts, sharp dialogue, bright imagery and a myriad of puns and gags.

The film has it's flaws of course, it can feel a bit long in parts and sometimes it may seem as if it got carried away. I think it does the film an injustice however to merely class it as a ‘video game movie.’ It has depth that would surely resonate with anyone who has loved, lost, or merely pined away for something you thought you wanted but turned out you actually didn’t. The film’s sincerity is what truly sets it apart from others, a remarkably honesty in acknowledging the complications of youth from the uncertainty to self-doubt. This is not just a film for Generation Y, it’s a film for anyone who was young, anyone who has loved music/bands and anyone who wants to have some fun.

In the end, the themes that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World embody are not new or revolutionary, but they are presented in such an entirely new package that challenges and defies every cookie-cutter coming-of-age film out there. This film should resonate with every geeky music-lover out there, and even if you don’t fit that box, you should still be able to be charmed by the heart of this ‘epic of epic epicness’ because it doesn’t really fit any boxes either, and after all, wasn’t everybody young once?

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has been out here in the land of Oz for little over two weeks now, and it’s not doing nearly as well as it by rights should be. On this note, I urge everyone to read this Vanity Fair article and then when you're trying to decide whether to see Avatar again for seven minutes of new footage or contemplating Piranah 3D, maybe you'll think more seriously about seeing this film instead. It is a breath of fresh air in a world of commercial generic blockbusters and it doesn’t deserve to flop. As Vanity Fair rightly point out, we don’t want studios to stop taking risks (have you seen the previews for Charlie St Cloud? Do you really want to be stuck with stuff like that for the rest of your movie going life?), so take a chance and try something new. Maybe you aren’t a geek or a gamer, you are/were a teenager right? You might like it and even if you don’t, well hey, you did something new. That’s always a plus. Plus it could give you something to complain about. Kids these days, you know...

Note: You can preview all of the graphic novels here.

Music: Discombobulate - Hans Zimmer
Mood: Working

No comments:

Post a Comment