January 14, 2011

#116: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (6/10)

What happens when a video game and a film love each other very much? They make a baby, and that baby is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  This movie is visually interesting and the detail of the auditory queues are impressive.  There is a lot to love about it, as long as you are up to speed on all your geek culture references. I found it humorous, but down the stretch my interest started to wane.  The movie's driving force is a romance, but it lacked emotional stakes. Director Edgar Wright succeeded at keeping my eyeballs happy, but left my heart out in the cold Toronto winter.

I want to be clear that I did enjoy watching this movie. It is good. It is worth seeing. I would even say it is quote-unquote fun most of the way.  There is humor. I laughed several times. There is a lot to like. I have never read the Scot Pilgrim comic book. I never will read the Scott Pilgrim comic book.  I may never read any comic book, and we both have to be okay with that. I probably didn't get all the nerdy references in this film. Even though I am in the right age range, I was probably not the target demographic for this movie.

The entire premise of this movie hinges on the relationship between a guy and a girl. We really no nothing about this girl, and neither does the guy.  As soon as he sees her he gets that googly-eyed infatuation going and it is over.  He sets on his quest to date. After the first date (which was the only decent moment we have with the characters) he is informed that he has to defeat her 7 evil exes. There is no real reason, it just has to be done.  Even though this guy obviously can't be hurt, (as evidenced by being thrown into a building or through a brick wall and coming away unscathed) he is always whining about how he is going to get killed the next time an evil ex comes along.  The whole premise is a bit dorky in itself, but the film does a decent job at making this world seem plausible. It doesn't dwell on exposition. It makes you accept it and movies on.

When you played Mario what was your motivation to continue to move from one level to the next?  Were you actually concerned about the princess's well being? Did her fate drive you to do battle with weird looking turtles?  Probably not. It was the act of going through the stages and having the satisfaction of saying you beat them.  Even thought you had extra lives you still fretted about whether Bowser was going to stomp you or whatever the heck he did to kill Mario, I don't even remember.  Much like that iconic video game, such is the life of Scott Pilgrim. Even though the plot of Mario didn't have a complex romance or strong character development, it was still engaging because we were actively participating in the game.  Here, we don't have the participation, so the process isn't nearly as compelling.

I never beat any Mario games. I didn't have the patience.  At the end did Mario hook up with Princess Peach? Did they live happily ever after? I doubt it.  Mario was a tiny Italian plummer. What did he have to offer a princess?  The love story was immaterial. The quest was for Mario himself. To prove he could overcome all adversity and save the day.  Scott Pilgrim isn't going to live happily ever after with Ramona.  This is a journey of self discovery.

Okay, enough of that nonsense.  Scott Pilgrim vs The World is lacking in a lot of areas.  The fights got tedious and the ending didn't make a lot of sense.  Spoiler alert... Ramona is being controlled by a micro chip. STUPID. It was never clear what he was actually fighting for, and what he got for doing it.  I assume it was based more on self discovery, but the movie didn't do a great job of making that clear. The emotional impact of this film was completely absent.  Having said all that, it is still worth seeing just based on the clever and unique way the story is told.  However, it story itself isn't all that compelling.  Maybe if you read the comic book it was super special to your little nerd soul cause you already understood the relationship between Scott and Ramona. However, us outsiders didn't get much from watching the film, rendering all the cool BS ultimately worthless.

If you want to watch it... watch it.  If you don't have any interest... skip it.  You won't be missing out on anything all that great.  If you have an affinity for poor character development and overly-long fight scenes then run out and see this mother asap!

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