Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Spoiler Level: Medium

This is one of those films I wanted to see when it first came out, but like most movies I didn't get around to it.  The trailer looked very impressive.

Well, the film lives up to the trailer.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World perfectly captures the spirit of the Nintendo generation otaku.

Scott Pilgrim is your average twenty-something. He's in a band with some friends, he's had his share of romances, and he has no career to speak of.  Then he meets the girl of his dreams.  The only catch is he has to fight each one of her Seven Evil Exes to the death.

It's a story straight out of a manga (or in this case, an Amerimanga, based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley), and never before have I felt a live action film captured the tone of manga so perfectly.  And that even goes for anime versions of manga, since anime has its own tone.

But what really pushes this film over the top is the other genre it emulates-- the old 8-bit video games.  The Universal Logo rolls out to 8-bit music at the beginning of the film, the fight sequences are set up like Street Fighter matches, and the exes explode into coins when they're defeated, with point values over them that increase with each new ex.

Visually the film is very striking, using special effects for every day scenes, looking like manga brought to life.  It's a technique used to a lesser effect that met with scorn in Ang Lee's Hulk and to a stronger effect in Speed Racer.  In both cases I liked it, but a lot of people I talked to didn't.  Based on the DVD sales of this movie, I suspect fandom has embraced it this time, most likely because of the gaming angle.

The characters are endearing, the dialogue is witty, the acting is well done. The humor lies in the film's ability to both over the top and yet low-key awkwardness at the same time-- for example, at one point Scott makes a dramatic entrance against one of the evil exes-- and then kind of stops, looks to his friends for confirmation, and then gets back to being dramatic.

It's a fun film from beginning to end, and I'll bet a lot of people will be cos-playing these characters for a long time to come.

No comments: