Saturday, November 6, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010): Game On!

Now this is one movie I was looking forward to with some anticipation. And I had to wait a long time before I could get to watch it. With expectations like these, movies usually disappoint. However, Scott Pilgrim is a hyperkinetic, stylistically exuberant film with copious doses of mirth and humour. Armed with a fantastic soundtrack, a clear vision and some winning performances, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a highly satisfying film.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is an indie rock loving, 22 year old guy who spends time jamming with his band and dating a Chinese girl, Knives (Ellen Wong) who is still in high school. He lives with his gay roommate Wallace (Kern Culkin) and is constantly lectured by his overbearing younger sister (Anna Kendrick). The story really begins, however, when Scott meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl of his dreams (quite literally). They start dating and he is quite soon in love with her. However, things take a sinister turn when he learns that, in order to date Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes, from her first boyfriend to her most recent one before Scott. Battle face ready? Game on!

Scott Pilgrim is a visually dazzling treat. The screen is immersed is bright and shiny fluorescent colours during every battle scene and the videogame format suits the film really well. Plus, the intercutting between several scenes throughout lend a lightning pace to the film which means the 120 minutes fly by fairly quickly. It pays homage to the videogames that we grew up on, from Mario Bros to Street Fighter and more. I promise you, you haven’t seen a film like this before. And that is Scott Pilgrim’s greatest strength. Visually, it is revolutionary.

At the same time, Edgar Wright knows how to tell a clean, straight story. The characters are nicely established in the first 20 minutes leaving Ramona suitably enigmatic. The script could have been better and yet, the dialogues are sharp and the wit cackles in places. There is a certain resonance in the awkward sweet romance between Scott and Ramona that I think the Juno generation will instantly identify with and lap up to. The only flaw: the final half hour drags on a fair bit. However, by then I was so immersed in the proceedings that I was more than willing to forgive such misgivings.

Coming to the performances, Michael Cera is the king of the dorky generation, by which, I basically mean he plays the same dorky roles over and over. However, in Scott Pilgrim, you see an improvement in his style and range of emotions. The battle sequences are fairly physical and Cera does a convincing job as Pilgrim. The entire remaining cast is perfect, irrespective of their screen time. Special mention though must be given to Kieran Culkin who is brilliant as the sarcastic roommate and manages to steal the thunder from everyone, including Cera in all his scenes. I like how the focus is on him as a roommate, a friend, even a gossiping bitch but not so much on his sexual orientation, which is treated very naturally. He is an actor who deserves a bigger role.

At the end of the day, Scott Pilgrim is a good marriage of style and substance. It is fast, funny and thoroughly entertaining. At the same time, it is bursting with an innocence and charm that has been all but lost in the teen genre in recent years. It is every gamer and geek’s dream come true; well, on celluloid at least. Indulge yourself in this one.

P.S.: November is shaping up to be a most interesting month. Instead of an average of 4 posts in a month, I seem to be writing 4 a week. Let's see if I can beat my own record of 8 posts this month. :)

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