Friday, 7 January 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) - Edgar Wright

Wow, let me kick this off by saying that despite reservations that I wouldn't like this, I came away thinking it was pretty neat. I don't read comics or play computer games anymore, which is more down to the fact that I have other things to do, than thinking it's childish or anything like that. So I was thinking that this film wasn't aimed at me at all, since I hadn't even heard of Scott Pilgrim until it was announced as Edgar Wright's next film. Edgar Wright I have heard of, and despite the fact that I think he's a bit of a goon, and far too full of himself, he has done enough to make me at least interested in anything he decides to direct. Spaced was great and at the time felt like a much needed shot in the arm for British comedy. Not only was it funny but it looked so bloody sexy, next up was Shaun of the Dead, which gave Wright the chance to really go for it in terms of style and for the most part it worked. Hot Fuzz was such a bloated effort I'm amazed that any of the humour made it through, it was overlong, over complicated and had about four endings too many.

So with the above in mind you can imagine why I wasn't all that bothered about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I probably would never have bothered seeing it either had it not been for the fact that a few people (Daniel Bergman take a bow), who's taste in film I really trust told me that I would like it. So for those who are like me and have never been touched by the world of Scott Pilgrim fear not, for despite all the visual madness (oh and there is plenty of that, more of which later), the film is about the baggage people carry around with them from relationship to relationship. Something everyone who is old enough to see this can relate to.

Visually this is out there, but in a good way, it doesn't burn your eyes or leave you reaching for the painkillers. I don't think there has been a term coined for this style of film making yet. It's the equivalent to film what post rock is to music. Post Cinema just sounds well wrong, so hopefully someone bigger and brighter than me will name this genre at some point. But you know the sort of thing I'm talking about, Oliver Stone really went for it with Natural Born Killers and Fincher ran with it on Fight Club to a degree, but Wright really cranks it up a notch with Scott Pilgrim. It's very kinetic, perfect for a generation weaned on fast cut late eighties fluff, those who have the language of computer games firmly lodged in their underused brains. But the visuals are just the dressing, the actual theme running through the film is that of ex girlfriends/boyfriends and all that.

So the basic plot of the film is this, Scott Pilgrim regular geek, plays bass in a band with two other geeks, meets a girl (Ramona Flowers) falls for her, and as happens in these situations she has a past that our hero should be happy to not know about, but unfortunately (for him) he can't help but be curious about her exes. And so since this tale is not tied to the real world but rather that of the comic it's based on, Scott has to battle Ramona's seven exes. Now this is where I thought I would tire of the film, since the idea of having a least seven fight scenes to get through was not something that made me punch the air and cry 'HELL YEAH'. This is where Wright's real skill as a director comes into play though, since he was able to make each fight scene different from the previous one, and at the same time wring comedy from them and move the plot forwards. In this way I'd say his closest peer is Stephen Chow (the genius behind both Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle), in terms of both style and the way they both have no qualms about pushing things just that little too far. The best thing is the evenness of the film, most films like this tend to wilt a little around the hour mark, the humour dries up as the real drama of the film comes to the fore. Not here though, right the way up to the last frame I was laughing and just couldn't wait to watch this again. So this ends up as one of the best films of the year for me. Which is quite strange, but that's life innit?

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