Saturday, 14 August 2010

[373] Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) Review

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited about the Scott Pilgrim movie. I'm a big Edgar Wright fan, and I'm also a passionate devotee of Bryan Lee O'Malley's original comic series. So it would be insincere of me to cover that up.

It didn't disappoint - and I don't mean that in the sense of measuring the film up against my idealised version of the books. I think it is an outstanding film - full of daring, heart and imagination and coupled with the kind of filmmaking clout that this year has been lacking (although, dearie, have the critics and audience tried to place that sort of 'classic' status on other films). It's a dead-cert for my best of year, and a heck of a double bill with Kick Ass - another film that takes comics, genre film and youth culture and does something both fresh and touching. Funny how they're both comic adaptations, and both headed up by British creatives in Hollywood.

I don't give films five-star reviews, especially on the first watch. Scott Pilgrim is the kind of film that is racking up perfect scores from the kind of critics who breathlessly venerate anything that gets their pulse racing. Maybe they're also bristling at the hostile notices from older, stuffier voices. Either way, I'm hesitant - but wouldn't it have been cool to give a one- and a five- star review in the same week?

I wrote this right after the screening, up against a tight deadline. It is also the first time I've written about Scott Pilgrim at all, so I attempt to unpack some of the series' themes, and make a grander statement about what it succeeds in exploring, as a character piece. Apologies if it is at all incoherent.

To say that the comic-to-film adaptation Scott Pilgrim Vs The World has been well marketed would be a modest statement. Thanks to all the trailers, sneak peeks, cheeky cast reveals and secret screenings, not to mention the tweets, tie-in videogame and perfectly-timed release of the series' final volume, the anticipation level among its target audience is off the chart. And it's no surprise, since it's effectively the Twilight or Harry Potter for hip geeks and geeky hipsters.

But where the big screen adaptations of the boy-wizard and girl-who-dates-supernatural-hunks franchises have the luxury of sequel-ready storytelling, Scott Pilgrim takes its six-volume arc and crams it into just under two hours. However, director Edgar Wright is perfect for the job. After all, this tale of twenty-something Torontonians fits right in with the work he has made in the past with collaborator Simon Pegg.

For Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) isn't a million miles away from a Spaced character. He's bumbling through life, using cultural touchstones (games and music, mostly) to shape and define his world. However, whereas the line between reality and fantasy was flexed in Spaced, here, it is broken, as the protagonist starts to date the literal girl of his dreams, a hyper-cool, roller-skating courier called Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). There's just one caveat: Scott has to fight her seven evil exes in spectacular combat before winning her heart.

Read the full article here.

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