Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a great movie, in that it accomplishes everything it sets out to do.  The story is competently told, the tone is conveyed, the direction and acting are good, and the visual style is incredible.  But, with the exception of that final aspect, the movie still managed to disappoint us, not because it failed to achieve its goal, but rather because we never clicked with the movie.

Simply put, we weren't really compatible with Edgar Wright's vision for this movie.

There were several wedge issues, beginning with this version of Scott Pilgrim.  Many have blamed the casting, but we actually rather liked Michael Cera in the role.  It was the role itself that grated on us.  Scott was whiny, shallow, and self-obsessed.  This wasn't exactly a flaw, though, because it was clearly intentional: the movie was a story of self-discovery and personal growth.

That, incidentally, was our second issue.  We've seen these sorts of character journeys before: they're a dime a dozen on the sitcoms we grew up with.  From this movie, we wanted something a little lighter or, barring that, something as original as its appearance.

And, from a visual standpoint, the movie was absolutely awesome.  The fights were fast paced, intriguing, and fun, and the effects were a joy to watch.  Unfortunately, the movie dragged when the punches stopped.  The characters, while adequately developed, weren't particularly likable, making it difficult to care what happened to them.
Still, where the substance disappoints, the style reigns.  Michael Cera was an action hero, and an imposing one at that.  The battles were engaging and exciting, and the movie is well worth a trip to the theater.

In terms of tone, the movie almost reminded us of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; a jarring experience since we'd entered expecting something along the lines of Shaun of the Dead.  Of course, Eternal Sunshine offered a more original story to support its innovative use of effects.

The visual style is almost reminiscent of Speed Racer, which time and reflection has elevated to five-star status.  Against that metric, we award Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World three and a half stars.

Scott Pilgrim demands respect, and the action sequences are a joy.  Unfortunately, the movie is easier to respect than to love.

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