Thursday, 3 March 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Lowdown: A geek has to fight his new love subject’s former lovers in order to “secure” her.
Review:
One undeniable fact that has been lamented over many posts in this blog is the lack of originality coming at us from Hollywood’s direction. When something original does come out it is almost always a cause for celebration, as is the case with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: not a film that would shatter your perception of the world, but still a film that feels like a fresh breath of originality and sheer fun amidst the dull mundaneness dominating movie releases.
Perhaps it’s because of its roots: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is rooted in the world of comics, it is heavy with fantasy elements, it carries a good sense of humor with it, and it contains a lot of cultural references to computer geeks – references of the type that would make any gamer an instant fan (yours truly included). Let alone the basic storyline which would appeal to teen or young adult whose main struggle in life is to secure a love subject. Or even those that have been out of contention for a while now but can still recall the heartache of days gone by, like yours truly.
The story is something we’ve seen before many a time. A geek in his early twenties, Scott Pilgrim’s (Michael Cera) main occupation is rock culture and his rock band. He doesn’t have a job and shares an apartment with a cynical gay guy (Kieran Culkin) in a generally bleak looking Toronto, and he is still lamenting his girlfriend dumping him a year ago to become a successful singer in a rock band. In his desperation he takes up a high schooler, an aptly names Knives Chau, as a girl friend.
But then a new girl starts appearing in his dreams and later in his life. This Ramona quickly becomes an obsession, perhaps because of her dying her hair pink (and many other colors as we go) and perhaps because of her exotic origins (New York). Our Scott goes for the challenge of obtaining the seemingly unobtainable, but then finds out – in rather too casual a manner – that he has to fight Ramona’s former seven exes if he wants to get anywhere in this relationship. Fight, as in to the death.
Indeed, it doesn’t sound like this film is up to much. I agree: as films go, it isn’t. The trick is with the way this film does what it does, which is to bring a fantasy comics tale into life and do it while making the most of the tale’s links with music and [retro] computer games. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit less than two hours of your life for such shallow affairs then you’d be in for good laughs and highly entertaining entertainment – and isn’t that what films should be all about in the first place?
Things worked so well, and the actors (Cera in particular) do their job so well, that I was fully immersed in this experience. I fully identified with Pilgrim’s anguish to try and get somewhere with Ramona, and in parallel I felt the craving to put my hands on the new Mortal Kombat 9 game that will soon be released: the game is referenced in the fight scenes, and MK9 has been banned from Australian shores due to Australia’s lack of an 18+ classification for video games. All the more reason to go and get it overseas. [I know I strayed here with this Mortal Kombat thing; blame stupid censorship with that]
Best scene: Universal’s opening logo performed 8 bit style provides a very effective introduction to what is in store during the rest of the film.
Technical assessment: An average Blu-ray in quality it nevertheless does the job effectively.
Overall: I would say this is a 3.5 star film that I liked 4 stars much, so this is my final rating for what seems to be the best science fiction film in a year of science fiction drought. A great film for making geeks feel good about themselves!

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