Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Review; or, My Penis Vs. The Constricting Zipper of My Pants While Watching

     I loved video games as a kid. Still do. I had a regular Nintendo back in the day, and on Christmas day 1991, I received an SNES for Christmas. It was, and still is, one of the most exciting Christmas gifts that I have ever gotten. From that day, I've owned many different systems and hundreds of different games (currently two PS3's, a 360 and a Wii). I just turned 26, and the love hasn't faded much over the years. Maybe that will change when there are some mini-Hutches running around, but hopefully not. Videogames are an entertaining way to connect with friends, play different things competitively from the comfort of your own leather chair, escape the sometimes frustrating real world for a while, and--above all--have some fun. Why all of this talk about videogames? Well, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the epitome of what a film should be like when marketed toward the videogame generation. It's combination of music, sound effects, frenetic action scenes, a loud and boisterous announcer during the fight scenes, and fun factor accelerate it to the forefront of films that are directly connected to the generation that considers Master Chief a true hero.
     Disclaimer: I have not read the Scott Pilgrim comic books. I have absolutely no clue about whether or not this is a faithful adaptation to the source material. But by going by everything that I have read, it seems like it's pretty close. Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera, in his best but still basically-more-of-the-same film role), is a 20-something in Toronto, Canada, and is a member of the band "Sex Bob-omb". He's dating a high-schooler, an Asian girl called Knives who wears cute schoolgirl outfits. Picture a pedophile or an anime-loving nerd's dream. However, a new girl comes into town and into Scott's dreams, so he decides to try and hit it off with her by using his normal pickup line, which deals with the history of Pac-Man. Dating this girl, Ramona Flowers, comes with a catch: to win her time and heart, he must defeat her seven evil exes. In this film, defeat doesn't just mean a fistfight or normal violence. In this surreal, one-third videogame, one-third comic book and one-third movie universe, Scott must defeat these seven beings in a fighting game (think Mortal Combat or Tekken)-style "Vs" mode, while using various natural and supernatural weapons. Enemies even explode into coins when the finishing blow is landed. It's great fun, videogame lover or not.
     Shaun of the Dead is my favorite comedy in the history of film. Bold statement, I know. But I feel like if there was a God, and I wished for the most perfect director to appear before me, Edgar Wright would be dropped at my feet. After Hot Fuzz, and now this, Wright is 3-for-3 on films that inspire wonder and awe. His style fits this source material perfectly. Remember all of the quick camera cuts and perfect comic timing of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? (If the answer is no, then go add that shit to your Netflix queue or piss off.) It works beautifully in this film. The sound editing is also insane. If a film aspires to be videogame-esque, which this film certainly does, it has to nail the sound effects: and, boy, does this film hit the nail squarely on the head. From the opening Universal logo, with its 8-Bit pixelation and early arcade music, to the final frantic fight scene, it produces many "That's fucking awesome!" moments for anyone that appreciates videogames (or original film techniques in general). With all of this praise, it's easy to overlook a few of the film's minor problems. They don't take away from the overall enjoyment, but the movie does produce some cringe-worthy moments: particularly the singing and dancing of the first evil ex during the film's first surprising fight scene and a bit of the overly hip dialogue (nothing as puke-inducing as a film like Juno, though). It doesn't take away from the experience as a whole; I had a smile on my face 80% of the time.
     I had pretty high expectations of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but I still didn't know what exactly to expect. I knew that Edgar Wright would (at the very least) make a film that's entertaining enough to watch.  However, he exceeded that easy-to-reach benchmark. It's funny, has great martial arts fighting scenes, and a charming-in-a-nerd-kind-of-way lead character. It's frenetic, romantic, and, above all, a fucking blast. Just like Shaun of the Dead was filled with nods and winks to the Zombie-film genre and Hot Fuzz was filled with nods and winks to buddy-cop action movies of the past, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a tribute to videogames of the past. A past where instead of worrying about everyday headaches such as a job or paying bills, all you had to do was defeat the evil henchmen to save the beautiful princess.     (A-)

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