16 September 2010

FILM OF THE WEEK: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

STARRING: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Scwartzman, Keiran Culkin, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Ellen Wong
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
RELEASED: 13th August 2010

If ever a film's tagline was accurate, it's "Scott Pilgrim"'s. "An epic tale of epic epicness" is entirely correct, if grammatically awful. The word "epic" is admittedly overused by us young'uns nowadays, but there is no other word I can think of to describe Edgar Wright's third film. Adapted from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim... follows the story of the titular Scott, a 22 year old Canadian slacker, who plays bass in garage band Sex Bob-omb. They're not very good, but have at least one huge fan in Scott's 17 year old high-school girlfriend, Knives Chau. Unsure of what to his friends and bandmates' disapproval about the relationship, our hero meets another obstacle in the arrival of Ramona Flowers, the girl of Scott's dreams, literally. At a battle of the bands that Sex Bob-omb are playing, Ramona's ex Matthew Patel crashes the gig, challenging Scott to a fight to the death as the first member of The League Of Evil Exes. Only after the League hase been defeated, can Scott and Ramona finally be together.

For anyone over the age of 30, SPvsTW will most likely be a blur of bright colours, noises and meaninglesspop-culture references. But to an audience well-versed in games and indie-rock, it will be, well, epic. Fans of Wright's previous work (Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz) will be familiar with his quick-paced directing style and should help you to notice every little reference buried within the film. Michael Cera once again plays an awkward indie nerd hopelessly in love with a girl, but expands his acting range to include "bit of a docuhebag" this time, since Scott Pilgrim isn't the most likeable guy around for the first hour or so. You never know, Cera might turn into a great actor someday, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Both have played the "awkward/alternative" guy multiple times (Cera in Arrested Development, Nick & Norah, Paper Heart and Youth In Revolt, Gordon-Levitt in 3rd Rock, 10 Things I Hate About You and Mysterious Skin) and Gordon-Levitt is now forging his own place as a very gifted actor, thanks to Inception, Brick and the upcoming Hesher. You've just got to hope Cera doesn't get stuck in an unfortunate rut.

But back to "Scott Pilgrim...". The film is full of computer game references and every single one works; from Scott's "Pee" bar emptying out when visiting the "little boys' room" (a possible nod to The Sims) to the aspect ratio changing as if the action is cutting to a cutscene. It also stays as faithful as possible to the original comic series. Sound effects (such as phones ringing etc) appear on-screen as text, characters get introduced with text boxes and descriptions; in fact the only big change from the series is, well, the second half of the plot. The Scott Pilgrim series was only three volumes long when production started on the film, with the sixth and final volume only being released a few months ago, so there are a fair few disparities between the two. But without some backstory and plot points, the film is actually a bit more enjoyable and coherent than the graphic novels. The ending is certainly a lot easier to wrap your head around, whilst some hardcore fans will inevitably have a few gripes of their favourite lines being cut, the film is hilarious enough without having in-jokes and obvious lines thrown at you every few seconds. All in all, Scott Pilgrim has just the right amount of romance, action, comedy and rocking out to live up to its tagline, and is the perfect rom-com for anyone brought up with Nintendo and Nirvana.

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