Monday, 4 October 2010

Starfish Reviews : Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Whenever I write about films I always try to keep a balanced, unbiased approach, and never to insult or gush too much about a film. Whilst personal reflection is always important, one should focus their attentions on how the cinematic execution evokes the ideas within the narrative. Therefore you should never review films with sentences like 'this film is fucking epic'.

This film is fucking epic.

Which I guess makes me a poor reviewer, but then again i'm not writing for some highbrow academia but an online blog for nerds (admit it), so I have the creative freedom to gush about films as and when I please. And why exactly is this film fucking epic, may you ask? Lets go over the plot quickly.

If you are one of the few people who has not yet watched the film, or at least seen the trailer, the film is about one Scott Pilgrim, a Canadian, rather typical gamer nerd who plays in a local band. Scott meets Ramona Flowers, a punk-esque, bicurious American. If Scott wants to date Ramona, he must defeat her Seven Evil Exes (who together form a 'league'...a nice comic book reference).

That is basically the entire plot, with the exception of a subplot involving Scotts band and a crazy Chinese girl called 'Knives Chau'. A very simple plot, but it is more than enough to keep the viewer occupied, as the narrative develops with the aid of quirky visual effects and a refreshingly smart script (there is a hilarious scene about veganism, a must-see alone).

The film is constantly making use of different visual effects, including on-screen text about the characters and video-game icons in retro 8-bit visuals, as well as captioned sound effects that evoke the 'pow's of the early Batman tv shows. There are many references to video-game culture, so much so that the entire films atmosphere is less that of a film and more of an arcade shoot-em-up, something that is completely intentional and innovative – at one point there is a guitar battle hugely reminiscent of the Guitar Hero duels.

One thing I love about this film is that is constantly aware of itself as a film, as we see characters remark upon the on-screen captions, creating something annoying film buffs call 'breaking the 4th wall' – the screen that seperates the world within the film from the real world outside it. This is a technique stretching back through decades of alternative cinema, where it could be said to have started during the iconic French New Wave period of the 50's and 60's, a period that opened up the way for directors like Quentin Tarantino, whose influence is keenly felt in this movie.

As well as being a video-game movie, this is also very much a comic-book movie, two delightful cultures that often go hand-in-hand. The movie is adapted from the graphic novel of the same name,  written and drawn by artist Bryan Lee O'Malley; the film is a very faithful adaptation, nicely blending in O'Malleys art at various points in the film.

Directed by Edgar Wright, the man behind Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead, it is a brilliant comedy, that without containing any themes too mind-consuming, manages to impress and suprise, and is refreshingly funny. Also refreshing is Michael Cera, a man who before this film I was almost sick to death of seeing in practically every comedy every time as the stereotypical awkward shy guy. His portrayal of Scott as an 'accidental lady-killer' caught me off guard with his excellent delivery of well-timed sharp dialogue. A wonderfully entertaining film, unless you hate video-games and comic-books. But if you did, you wouldn't be reading this in the first place, would you?

Related films: Survive Style 5+, Kick Ass, Kill Bill,
Directing – 10/10
Writing – 10/10
Acting – 9/10 (only knocked off a point as at times I found Mary Elizabeth Winsteads' Ramona off-puttingly moody)
Overall – 10/10

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