Sunday, September 5, 2010

A movie review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Director - Edgar Wright
112 min; PG-13
Michael Cera - Scott Pilgrim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Ramona Flowers
Ellen Wong - Knives Chau
Jason Schwartzman - Gideon

Once again I find myself trying to review a film that is based on a graphic novel and once again I find it very difficult to formulate my thoughts, since I have no interest in graphic novel reading, and thus I end up with only one point of view to form my opinions - is the movie any good? I won't do a run down of previous films based on graphic novels, but you can probably conjure up a decent list without giving it much thought. If you find yourself counting the list in your head and saying 'yeah, I generally like these kinds of movies' then I am fairly certain you will enjoy this one as well. If you are going through the list in your head and only seeing 2 or 3 and out of those you didn't like any, then I'm fairly certain you will detest this film.

I fall exactly in the middle.

Scott Pilgrim is not exactly a geek, dork, loser, or tool, but he sure seems like he should be. Played by Michael Cera it is nearly impossible to not want to lump this character into those categories. And yet he gets laid and is in a band and isn't really the dumped on guy throughout, so you have to sort of suspend your notions a bit to get by what you think this character should be. He's 22 and after a bad break up is now dating a high school girl, Knives Chau, though they haven't even exactly held hands yet. When Ramona Flowers enters the picture it is all over for Scott - he must have this cool punk chick. Unfortunately for Scott, like all women I've ever met, Ramona has a past, and the plot of the movie follows along as Scott must defeat Ramona's 7 exes in various battles.

So yeah, this isn't a conventional movie in that it uses word bursts on screen and weaves seemingly real life scenarios in with graphic novel-esque type fight scenes, but then again, it does feel a bit conventional. The story grabbed me early but left me feeling very unsatisfied buy the ending, and I left the theater feeling that perhaps the fight scenes simply got too bland after the first few. I mean, I know he has to defeat 7, so there need to be the fights, but how many times can I get a chuckle out of a henchman getting kicked in the face and turning into a pile of coins? For the crowd of gamers who see this film you will certainly find references throughout to many of the classic video games and I found it nostalgic for a hot second only - there just seemed to be room for a lot more creativity.

I liked the play between the characters of Scott and Knives and the random people around them. It was good chemistry. I never really felt that between Scott and Ramona. They just never seemed to be in sync. Ultimately I think this would have made a fantastic 45 minute short film, but when extended out to full feature it simply didn't have enough in the tank.

** and 1/2 out of 5

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