Thursday, September 25, 2014

Anthony T's #TBT: Scott Pilgrim vs the World

This week on Anthony T’s #TBT is one of my favorite Edgar Wright films. He’s a director most known for films like “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. But back in 2010, he directed a great film that not many people saw as it only went on to make 31.5 million dollars at the box office. I’m talking about “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”. Here’s my review of the film from back in August 2010.

Repost from 8/23/2010 with changes.

To think that a director is great, he needs at least three films that are great or memorable in either a serious manner or a geeky manor. This leads me to the film’s director Edgar Wright. His last two films were just great and memorable to the point that I recently upgraded them to Blu-Ray. But what makes someone great is that you take away the elements that made the previous films work and direct something outside your comfort zone. This was the case here as Wright’s frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are nowhere to be found here. Instead, he has a graphic novel and Michael Cera to work with.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’ Malley. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old who is jobless and plays bass for a garage band known as Sex Bob-omb. He has just met Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl of dreams. It sounds easy, but there’s a catch. He finds out that his new girlfriend that has baggage. Her exes formed a nefarious league to control her love life and are willing to do anything to eliminate Scott as a suitor. This range from a skateboarder turned actor, a vegan rock star to identical twins. In order to achieve true love, he must vanquish the league of exes before it’s game over. This film also features appearances by Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman.

With the exception of “Inception” and “The Girl who Played with Fire, this summer has been a letdown for me, as there hasn’t been that film that made me want to see it again. There hasn’t been that great popcorn flick this summer, where you’re are walking out of the theater where you feel like you had a fun time. A good example would be “District 9” and “Star Trek” from last summer where it made you want to rush to see the film again, until now.

“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is film that is destined for cult status. The major thing going into this film was if Edgar Wright’s is truly a very talented writer/director or was it was it the fact that he needs his frequent collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to make his films very entertaining.
Thankfully, this film definitely solidifies him as a very talented writer/director, as Wright has really come a long way from “Shawn of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”.

One of the things that he does is to make the film’s shots stand out. I liked how, he goes into video game mode with the split screens and widescreen to some of the film’s most crucial elements. This brought back the heydays of “The Legend of Zelda”, “Street Fighter” and “Mortal Kombat”. It’s very creative and takes a lot of chances. I wished some of the video games of the nineties would have more exciting action instead being good for its cheesiness. Also, I loved the way that Wright opens up the film with the Universal logo in 8 bit graphics. He then cuts to the shot of the band in the film playing as the camera moves away from them and cuts to the title cards with a grindhouse looking background to give the film its punk rock feel to it. That sequence perfectly helps set the tone for this film, as this film felt like a rock concert. Wright also does a very good job handling the performances and making them comic bookish to the point where it fits the tone of the film. He does a great job handling Michael Cera performance, as he come off as geeky and not annoying which the character could’ve been but wasn’t.

The screenplay written by Wright and Michael Bacall does a very good job making the story and material very adaptable for the big screen. The big complaint of some comic films is the fact the feel of the story isn’t comic bookish. Not only does the story feel comic bookish, it also felt video gameish with some of the sequences and the way they were written. Another thing that I like about the screenplay was the fact it’s given a chance to develop it characters. Sometimes films like this just totally ignores these aspects, but doesn’t here. There are some parts where the action is slow, but it serves as it develops some of the main characters and the main relationship. This helped me get invested with the characters, which makes it a better and fun film to enjoy.

I don’t know with the exception of maybe Michael Gondry, if anyone could make this material very energetic and visually compelling like Wright did here. If this film was done by anyone else, then it would have probably ended up like a video game movie from the nineties and it would have been in the annoying with the 3D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! format too, even though this film felt like a 3D movie without the glasses. Finally, a summer popcorn film that made me walk out of the theater feeling very satisfied. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is very visually captivating film and is perfect summer escapism at the local multiplex.

Review Rating: Five Stars

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