Video Producer Joey's Review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Hey guys, Joey here! I thought I'd take a small break away from video producing and give you my thoughts on the new movie opening this weekend, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Ever hear of it? Oh okay, cool, just making sure. I think they missed a couple billboards.
But...coincidentally we do have quite a bit of coverage all over our site as well. We're not going to try to over epicly, epic you over the head with all this epic coverage of epicness. But, it's here if you're interested, and I listed it below for nice easy access.
Inferiorego's review from the Comic-Con screening is up as well as --
Tom Pinchuk's thoughts, straight out of the Egyptian theater in Hollywood.
We also put together a 3- Minute Expert on the Exes of Ramona, which broke earlier this week.
And finally below are my thoughts on the flick. In short I liked it (4/5), and of course the comment board is open so let us know what you all thought of it as well!
Well, back to the camera, enjoy the review, I'll see you guys!
The world of Scott Pilgrim is a very small place, barely touching the edges of Ontario, Canada, with physical laws dependent on the same ilogical and nonsenical concepts of nearly every single mid-80's to mid-90's video game; notably Super Mario Brothers, River City Ransom, and the later combo based fighting games. Power ups are earned by eating vegan, collecting coin obtained by defeating foes, rocking out, and...well, you get the picture. This is, in the broader sense, a vintage video game-surelastic film that, in the real world, has been packaged into an agressive pop culture marketing campaign that seems to have already split the world in two, causing huge waves of early disdain for the film and it's concept entirely. This circumstance is unfortunate, because Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an extremly fun movie, with well executed integration of the aforementioned and one of the best flicks to come out this summer.
Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a kid whose maturity level is stuck in the middle of high school and young adulthood. He plays bass in the band, Sex Bob-Bombs, with two of his old high school friends whose current motivation is to bring the band to fame and glory. Pilgrim plays in this band not so much for the music, but for the illuminating perceptain of "coolness" that envelops young immature gals, specifically Knives Chau, a 17 year old Chinese-Canadian catholic school girl, played wonderfully by Ellen Wong. Chau is young, has never kissed a guy, and falls head over heels for Scott Pilgrim after watching him rock out with the Sex Bob-Bombs. She follows him, plays with him, wears his band t-shirts, and does all this with a sense of naiveity that blinds her to noticing that Scott is the least bit interested in her, especially after Romana Flowers becomes the literal woman of his dreams. Romona Flowers, played with an uninterested tone by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, moves to Ontario, from New York, to get away from her old life and work part time as a delivery girl for Amazon.ca. She finds a nice quick highway subspace through Scott's head (you know, cause she's American...and American's can do that) and this triggers an unrelenting obsession in Pilgrim which soon sets up the main plot for the film: in order to date the beautiful and illusive Ramona Flowers, Scott must fight and defeat her seven evil exes.
There are plenty of supporting players in this film - Kieren Maculkin (yeah, Mcully's brother) who plays Wallace, the gay playboy roomate of Pilgrim, as well as the seven exes themselves including the x-treme skater/actor Lucas Lee, and diabolical music producer Gideon Graves (aka G-Man, hehe), played by Chris Evans and Jason Schwartzman respectively. All of these charactors are brought in with intentions that are as deep friend in crazy as the world they inhabit. Though the obvious plot of this movie is to fight and defeat these foes, the more interesting underlying narrative focus is based around the trio of Scott, Ramona, and Knives. All three are dealing heavily with the infection of a powerfull, helpless, and unexplained infactuation over another person. They each attempt to satisfy this emotion in very different ways, and while they each take different paths in service to this, they end up inadvertanly developing themselves and ending up at the same place - a far better place than their infactuation led them to believe they were capable of.
Now, don't get me wrong, this narrative spine is not something the movie hinges itself on; this element finds itself sidelined for most of the movie in service to the main crux of Scott battling the seven exes. And, consequently, by the time Scott and Ramona reach the end of their journey, you can't help but feel a little underwhelmed at how, or why, they got there. This did, though, leave open space for Knives as she goes through her different stages of infatuation, leading to obsession, to destructible personality traits, and eventually landing to a place of strong self-respect -- her journey there, seems reasonable and touching, even given her limited screen time as a supporting player, and this is thanks to the script and the over the top fun portrayal from actress Ellen Wong
Edgar Wright's direction has always impressed me. The man knows how to shoot and move a scene, and direct moments of comedic beats with complimentary editing and cuts. This is something that he really developed in the show Spaced, and has since been able to integrate it well into his feature films. He shows off his killer execution of fast rhythmic movements and pacing, especially in the first half of the film, while he navigates us through Scott Pilgrim's life. We see glimpses of a plethora of supporting characters, some who don't really seem too necessary (I get a feeling they had bigger parts of the source material), but none the less add color to Scott's world. As we enter the second half of the film, the pacing starts to get a clunky, as Wright speeds things up to fit in the remaining exes, throw in more references, and wrap up the story. We jump from one location to the next, one ex-boyfriend to the next, and it's here the motivating actions get a little undermined. This isn't completely horrible, as this is where Wright throws in the kitchen sink in regards to concepts, themes, style, editing, effects, and so on. By now, the excessive use of referential elements and eccentric effects editing may start to lose some people, but if you're already on board with what this movie is by this point, halfway forgiving the narrative defocus wont be unreasonable, and you'll have a great time with this, as it actually becomes a very fun part of the movie.
Wright has always done a great job at never peeling away from the tone of his films, even when he's jumping from genre to genre, and here, he jumps concepts with the same ease while strapping us in to a wild ride. Despite the cringe inducing over-aggresive marketing campaign, the trailers for this film are a great representation of what the movie is. Chatting with Rorie from Screened, he summed it best: if you like the trailer, chances are you'll like the movie. Even with it's narrative issues, and moments of awkward pacing, this is an extremely fun film and one of my favorites this summer as the world in which Wright has painted on screen is dazzling, with a fun little story and unique interpolating of video game concepts and physics.
I hated the previews, but after hearing that Michael Bacall wrote the screenplay and that Michael Cera WASN'T playing Michael Cera again (as he did in Juno, Superbad, Nick & Norah, and as others were forced to in Zombieland, Kick-Ass!, and that upcoming Facebook movie) I got more excited. I honestly didn't even like the source material very much; I only read the first volume, and I thought it was okay at best. But I decided to go to the midnight (we took a vote, and Expendables got out-voted) and it was a really, really good movie.
So I wouldn't say "If you liked the preview, chances are you'll like the movie" because that implies the idea that if you had initial distaste for it, you wouldn't like the movie. But that's not the case with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World; even with the source material, the overly-aggresive marketing, the very over-saturated Michael Cera, AND the dull-as-dirt preview, the movie overcomes all odds and becomes something excellent and more than the sum of its parts.
P.S. Michael Cera, by the way, isn't playing the same Michael Cera role again, and in fact carries the movie in a way the comic version of Scott Pilgrim couldn't.
So I wouldn't say "If you liked the preview, chances are you'll like the movie" because that implies the idea that if you had initial distaste for it, you wouldn't like the movie.I hear what your sayin, but I don't necessarily agree that it implies the converse. I still think chances are good you'll dig what the movie offers if you liked the trailers.
I myself was surprised by the movie also -- i wasn't expecting much, and I really liked the trailer, but the past has taught me that there are a lot of bad trailers out there, often misrepresenting a movie or often shooting the entire load in the three minutes. I'm just saying that that's not really the case here.
I do have to say that I was not that impressed with this movie as everybody seems to be... it was an enjoyable movie which has no slow moments. For some reason I thought there were moments that became over the top in an over the top movie... and the end was predictable.
Still I gave this movie a 3.5 out of 5 here and here. So I guess in the end I liked it! :)
The epicness of this movie cannot be described with words. It's a perfect homage to the Canadian music scene and 8/16-bit gaming. The books made me proud to be Canadian but the movie made me excited to be Canadian. Seeing the 2$ coins falling out of defeated evil exes brought joy to my heart.
Go see this. Read the books. Scott Pilgrim is awesome.
- Super referential - At least 40% of this movie is in-jokes about video games, comics, anime, etc. Therefore, if you aren't versed in that stuff, you'll be entertained by about 60% of the movie and just think the rest is kind of cute. Meanwhile, you and your buddies who get references like Clash at Demonhead, Final Fantasy theme music, Zelda music, Evil Exes turning into coins after they die, etc. will be laughing more. While that doesn't seem like a bad thing, it means that the film is actually adding a layer of snobbery on you, as to say "look, these people are cooler because they got this super obscure reference". I mean, how many people are going to realize that the guy who played Superman last time around is a flying, eye-laser-shooting vegan ex-boyfriend that plays Budgie's "Breadfan" and some Muse on the bass during his battle with Scott Pilgrim? I did! Did you? So take the already pretentious characters, add in this extra layer of pretentiousness and snobbery that is being pushed on you, and you get something that is generally dissatisfying to me.
- Unlikable characters - Scott Pilgrim is a douchebag that treats his first girlfriend (who bends over backwards to hang out with him and promote his band, etc) like crap, then doesn't even break up with her FOR-EH-VER during the movie while catching a glimpse of this other chick and falls in love with her...because she was in his dreams...and because she's pretty? REALLY? Do we need that kind of superficiality? It doesn't stop there, because Ramona never does anything to deserve Scott's love. She rarely smiles, she's relatively rude, she didn't want anything to do with Scott in the first place, she runs off when he's getting his ass kicked by Lucas Lee, she gives him some sob story about wanting to find something better...yet never shows herself trying to be anything better!!! Personally, I guess the moral of the story in the end was that douchebags will always find their douchebag soulmate.
- General lack of genuine humor - This links back to the referential stuff partially. With Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the humor didn't come from references (except for maybe the spectacular last 20 minutes of Hot Fuzz). It came from genuinely funny stuff. Therefore, it's weird to see Edgar Wright do a film that relies so heavy-handedly on references to offer up some laughs. I understand that the comic had a lot of references as well, but still... Moreover, whatever "genuine humor" you find in this movie is typically falling in one of two categories for jokes: lame puns that you laugh at because of how lame they are or gay jokes. I will say that they don't attack gays or anything in the movie, which is good. However, it seems to me that Edgar Wright is a comedic mind that's above it all and can make genuinely funnier stuff.
In the end, though, there were a lot of things I liked about the movie, like how Scott and his roommate got along. That was funny stuff (due mostly to Kieran Culkin), but above that, it was nice to see a straight guy and a gay guy not acting any different than they would if they were both straight or both gay. It's just a normal friendship in the every day world for the most part. Also, since I got a lot of the references, I had some good enjoyment from that. There's also Chris Evans, who personally stole the flick as Lucas Lee. I would love to see Chris Evans playing Lucas Lee in a movie about a movie that Lucas Lee is filming. That would be interesting!
" @jakob187: I don't think anybody involved in or watching the movie is looking down on anybody who doesn't catch what games incidental music cues in a few scenes are coming from. If you weren't entertained, that's that, but calling this movie pretentious because of its video game references is sort of like calling SIN CITY pretentious because of its film nor references. "Yeah I mean some of the younger audience might have not gotten the Seinfeld reference in the movie since the show is somewhat old... and then some might have not gotten it because they were simply not fans of the show...
There was a variety of references which obviously didn't get across to some... including me! :)
This movie is hit or miss because of the references in it. It is a movie for the pop-cultured immersed viewer. Not saying that if you don't get it you are not "Cool", it just that you missed out on Zelda for the NES and to complete your life I think you need to play that game, j/k about the missing out on your childhood thing. It is very highly geeked up of a movie for sure. But I also argue its brilliants to pop-culture. My review on the movie and on books 6 talk about similarities and connections to Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. For those who have read The Invisibles, tell me if you see the connection too. This movie I believe was a movie by Invisibles for Invisibles.
To the movie's credit, it's nowhere near as terrible as Juno was, but I was expecting more from the directer of Hot Fuzz and SOTD. I mentioned this on another thread, but the whole "hipster" thing is just unbearable to me as is Cera. If I didn't hate the indie kid culture or Nintendo so much, I might have liked it, so I wont say it's a bad movie. If I'd read the books I probably wouldn't have gone to see it at all.
The downside was this is a super niche film; so born before 1990; you're probably out of luck on this one. The entire theatre i was in were filled with 12 year olds needing to be handed their punch lines.
***Small Spoiler Alert***
In the scene where knives gets punched so hard the dye comes out of her hair; they didn't laugh at that; they instead laughed when someone commented; "she got hit so hard they knocked the dye out of her hair!"
Between stuff like that the constant snickering, the cell phones going off i can't deal with the pre-hipster pre-teen crowd. Either see it after their bedtime; or in the peace and quiet of your own living room.
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