Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Title: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Genre: Action, Romance, Comedy
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong
Director: Edgar Wright
When my sister downloads a film to my computer whilst I'm out I kinda get the hint that she recommends I ought to watch it at some point. Couple this with a number of recommendations, people raving about how spectacular a visual feat it is and how my geek bones should be quaking at the very prospect and somehow it seemed inevitable that I'd see it eventually, but the pessimist in me was mentally preparing for the worst. My experience with re-creating 'graphic novels' (I'm sorry, they'll always be comics to my mind) has never gone down well; my general disinterest in the source seeming to filter through into its re-imagining and resulting in something I can't help but wish I hadn't bothered with.
With the memory of the ridiculous “300” and boredom at “Watchmen” immediately springing to mind, let this pessimist assure you that this is not to be a concern at all. Completely lacking the intricate dark overtones of the latter and with no semblance of seriousness yielded by the former – thank god, the novel was apparently less serious than a garfield strip so I'd god-damn hope they didn't try to make this into something it's not – if not for the same source medium the three shouldn't be compared at all. If you've been living under a rock, the plot couldn't be simpler: geek boy and bassist Scott Pilgrim (Cera) becomes smitten by the girl with the magical hair, Ramona Flowers (Winstead) but as he quickly learns she has seven evil ex's he must battle to the death with in true 'Street Fighter' style in order to win her heart.
This premise whilst filled with promise and certainly not unlikeable becomes fraught with difficulties as soon as you dig a little deeper; whilst the light tone and unashamedly 'video-game' style works perfectly in creating inspired and original action pieces, at least to an extent – which if rare in cinema, feels almost unheard of in more mainstream productions – and the jokes whilst often falling a little flat do occasionally work and certainly never fail to maintain this jovial and upbeat atmosphere, at its core this is a romantic film about fighting for love. And if creating emotion without any realistic grounding sounds like expecting too much, actually creating likeable characters would seem like a fair compromise, but even in doing this simple task it fails monumentally. This complete absence of emotion results in the major theme of the film becoming sterile; mocking the current generation for the growing interest in Japanese art and nostalgia for early video games whilst making 'love' a melodramatic affair, all whilst telling us we're all socially repressed and emotionally stunted to the point we can't comprehend what love actually is.
The love interest at times seems like a target for misogyny; the most “hardcore” and “independent” of all women still incapable of being allowed to decide whom to love; a possession or prize that despite claiming to hate being, seems at heart to be a psychotic sadist getting off on the torture she puts others through, switching partners like worn underwear and constantly going hot and cold, back and forth from love and hate enough times to make even the most patient of guys want to go apeshit at her demeanour. The lead role fares little better, playing such a snivelling whiny nerd that the geek in me wants slap his scrawny ass out of it for making the rest of us look so pathetic. From his very introduction I wanted to do nothing more than to scream at him to man up, get over his ex, and stop fantasising about fucking an Asian Catholic school girl. Even that hopeful cry to the audience of 'if he can get a date' starts to crumble when you learn that actually, he's had many dates and he's somehow screwed up every one of them to the point they're referred to as 'the ____ incident.' It'd have been better make him celibate – or just not mention it at all if we're worried about accuracy to the original story – than to hint at his sexist tendencies and let our mind race to the worst, because that would make anyone inherently hard to root for.
As to be expected with seven battles to make your way through, it moves with a pace that would make a hardened crack addict feel a little nautious at first, though you do become accustomed to it. Each sequence is filled with its own tripped out psychedelic style that whilst in line with the source material is more often than not just infuriating; the onomatopoeic words in particular annoying me to no end – I know the phones ringing, that's what the sound effects are for – but when the action occurs, it ceases to be superfluous and it's purpose becomes more apparent. Ultimately this succeeds in sitting at the pinnacle of films so bad it makes you chuckle and go 'wut?' Like “Cutie Honey” before it and “Kekko Kamen” before that, Hollywood has received it's first dose of live-action anime that has been bouncing around Japan for years. Filled with unfulfilled promises of revealing outfits despite the wealth of pretty young things involved, a genuinely saddening ending brought about entirely by accident and a plot that goes beyond nonsensical to the point of being offensive to thought; this is little more than a cocktail of drugs for the geekiest of geeks. Quite frankly, I'm pleasantly surprised.
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Yes, very early on I started rooting for Knives to find happiness, being the only likeable character in the entire film and hence the closest one to being able to evoke any emotional response.