Second Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Second Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
7 10

You can also read Mike Sampson's SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD review here for a second opinion

PLOT: A twenty-something Toronto musician, named Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) meets and falls in love with the beautiful Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). However, before the two can date in peace, Scott must first defeat in combat her seven evil ex-boyfriends, while simultaneously fending off his love-struck, underage ex-girlfriend, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong).

REVIEW: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD is a fine film. Yes, fine. In a thumbs up/thumbs down way, PILGRIM's most definitely a thumbs up. The audience that I saw this with a Fantasia went absolutely apeshit, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve sat through a wilder screening. That said, I felt like the loneliest guy in the auditorium, as I was probably the one person who didn't flip for it in a big way.

Now, I assumed that I’d love SCOTT PILGRIM, as it comes from one of my favorite up-and-coming directors, Edgar Wright. I’ve almost worn out my DVD’s of SPACED, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and HOT FUZZ (I’d say SHAUN was among my top five films of the last decade), and I couldn’t wait to see what Wright did with his first big-budget Hollywood film. Heck, I even really like Michael Cera, who takes a lot of flak, but given the right material (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, YOUTH IN REVOLT, SUPERBAD), can be extremely effective and funny. I’ve never read any of the SCOTT PILGRIM comics, but they sounded like a lot of fun to me, so I went into this with high hopes.

However, as I was sitting through the film, I truly felt like a total outcast. Here I was, sitting among an audience that loved every frame of this candy-colored fantasy, but for some reason it was just leaving me cold. Now that’s not to say I didn’t like it. My reaction to this is a lot like my reaction to AVATAR, in that I appreciated it more than I liked it. I appreciate the skill behind it, and Edgar Wright does a downright visionary job behind the camera. For probably the first time since seeing Ang Lee’s HULK (which similarly visually stunning- but emotionally hollow), I felt like I was watching a blockbuster that truly tries to do something different visually, and this doesn’t look like any other film I’ve ever seen.

This is truly a live action NES 8-bit action game, crossed with a comic book, crossed with animé. Visually, it’s marvelous. However, story-wise, I found that I was watching one of the most two dimensional movies I’ve seen in recent memory. Probably part of the reason I didn’t quite get this is that I’m not a gamer. For me, this film was like going over to a buddy’s place and watching him play Nintendo for two hours. There was simply no content for me to get invested in. Scott Pilgrim, our man-child hero, is someone I didn’t particularly relish spending two hours with. He’s a snotty, entitled brat, and- all due respect to Cera, I didn’t buy him for a second as the “can’t miss” ladies man everyone in this film seems to think he is. Pilgrim’s a jerk, and YES- he eventually leans his lesson, but by the end of the film, I was beyond caring.

Now, it would be one thing if Pilgrim was the only two-dimensional character, but EVERYONE is like this in the movie. I didn’t feel for one second that I was watching real people, and even the action demi-Gods of THE EXPENDABLES seemed more relatable than this gang.

Buuuut, I still essentially liked SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, if only for the look, and the energy level with Wright having this move like a fun Bollywood musical. The numerous fight scenes are, for the most part, memorable even though it takes A LOT to buy Cera as an action hero. But if you keep in mind this is a video game, you can suspend disbelief enough to get into these well executed, occasionally inspired fights, particularly a fun showdown with one-time Superman, Brandon Routh as a super-powered Vegan.

I also loved the indie-rock soundtrack. PILGRIM’s band, Sex-Bob-omb, has a couple of really fun songs (written by Beck of all people). One of my favorite indie-rock bands, Metric, doubles for Scott’s sexy-ex-grilfriend’s band, Clash At Demonhead so I’ll be picking up the soundtrack for sure.

I just wish that some effort had been made to make the characters more believable or at least relatable on some human level, as this is the one thing that kept me from enjoying the film as much as I hoped I would. However, it’s worth noting that none of the 700-strong audience members I saw this with had the same problem I did, so there’s more than a good chance that I’m in the minority here.

However, all of this isn’t fair to Wright, who obviously made exactly the film he set out to make. From what I hear, it's extremely faithful to the original source material, and if the Fantasia/Comic-Con reactions are any judge, he obviously made a film that will please the hardcore fans. Whether or not John. Q Public will get on-board is another question. One thing’s for sure: Edgar Wright is the real deal, and one of the most exciting directorial talents to come along in the last few years. I just hope that next time, he brings the same humanity to the mayhem that he did in his work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Then, we’ll truly have something special.

RATING: 6.5/10

Source: JoBlo.com



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