Thursday, September 09, 2010
Scott Pilgrim vs the Blog.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on first impressions looks like a bombardment of pop culture, video games references and slacker humour. On many levels it is, but underneath that confusing coat is a decent bit of cinema, and probably one of Edgar Wright’s best films to date.
Based on the graphic novels of Scott Pilgrim comes this modern tale of romance with a twist, as the titular Scott must win the heart of the love interest, Ramona Flowers, by defeating her seven evil exes; each with their own super abilities.
For younger members of the audience, Scott Pilgrim will be a treat as it feels like an adult film that’s swallowed an over-sized kid (ok I agree that’s not the most visually appealing metaphor). The over the top and stylistic battle scenes as good as confirm this fact, as every punch thrown is exaggerated the nth degree. In this way there is little rooting in reality apart from that these films are set in a real world location, but for the rest of it you are seeing the world through Scott’s very biased, videogame addled eyes. You may as well have an epitaph saying at the beginning: “You are now about to enter the sub-conscious of a twenty three year old slacker. Hold on tight and enjoy,” as that is how this film feels. The fight scenes themselves are electrifiying, and liable to make the hairs on the back of your neck tingle.
That is why this film is a welcome relief to other films on the subject of romance between twenty somethings. It doesn’t feel like your average coming of age melodrama, and isn’t quirky to the point of being saccharine. Sure Scott learns several important lessons and grows as a character but this point doesn’t feel too laboured, and he is fundamentally the same person at the end of the film. Also the romance between Ramona and Scott is tempered nicely so that it isn’t too full of awkward nihilism, but isn’t too full of gooey eyed cuteness. It strikes a fine balance.
Wright has done a brilliant job of getting the visual tone right, but also including some great subtle references. One of the greatest feats however is that he has managed to create several high powered action sequences, and all without the extensive use of shakycam – a very in vogue Hollywood trick (I’m talking to you Michael Bay, you will get your comeuppance one day).
The characters are also of a decent fare. Michael Cera does with Scott what Michael Cera does with most characters he plays. Nothing wrong with that, that’s what he’s best at. For once he doesn’t come across as quite as weedy as before. He actually plays a character who can take a punch as well as he can give, and it’s nice to see this Cera, instead of the one who would otherwise try to run away from the fight. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is absolutely spot on as Ramona Flowers too, and embodies a persona that is both mysterious and cool perfectly. One of the standout performances comes from Kieran Culkin who plays Scott’s gay room-mate. He embodies a gay stereotype which is less flamboyant than the norm, but is rooted in gay identity. This makes a positive change to the usual flaming queen we’d perhaps expect (no thanks to Sex and the City 2 I might add).
Scott Pilgrim is another solid film from what has been a rather good year for summer releases. It’s sharp it’s funny, it’s romantic, and you can watch it more than once. Wright’s attention to detail has paid off once again and hopefully this will lead to further Hollywood work for the British director.