Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World *** ½
Directed By:
Edgar Wright.
Written By: Edgar Wright & Michael Bacall based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley.
Starring: Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Mark Webber (Stephen Stills), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Kieran Culkin (Wallace Wells), Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim), Aubrey Plaza (Julie Powers), Brie Larson (Envy Adams), Satya Bhabha (Matthew Patel), Chris Evans (Lucas Lee), Mae Whitman (Roxy Richter), Brandon Routh (Todd Ingram), Jason Schwartzman (Gideon Gordon Graves), Keita Saitou (Kyle Katayanagi), Shota Saito (Ken Katayanagi).

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the perfect example of a movie that is style over substance. The film is pretty much all style from beginning to end – this is a movie that doesn’t slow down for a second. But the style somehow works for this movie, which is also consistently funny and clever all the way through. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a cult movie in the making – you are either going to get on its wavelength and love it, or absolutely despise it.

The title character is played by Michael Cera – and is yet another of his now trademarked characters. He is a hipster, living in Toronto, in a rundown, one room apartment with his gay roommate Wallace (Kiernan Culkin). He plays in a band, and does pretty much nothing else except impress girls with his cool, shy, awkwardness. He is still getting over his breakup from last year, and has started dating a high school student – Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). But then he meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – and falls instantly in love. She is a little more hesitant, but cannot resist his awkward charm for long. The problem is this – she has seven evil exs that Scott has to fight and defeat in a series of videogame inspired madness.

And that’s pretty much the story, but doesn’t for a second describe what it is like to watch the film. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and based on the popular graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a tour de force of style – and not just in the fight sequences, where Wright really does take things to the next level. Even in the most seemingly quiet scenes, there are strange shots and pans, rapid fire editing and strange moments. Realism this ain’t, but neither is it boring. Unlike most of the movies that treat style with more reverence that substance, this movie worked for me. Most times, like in the films of Tony Scott or Michael Bay, I end up with a headache. But Scott Pilgrim vs. the World kept me involved and entertained. Perhaps it’s because as the film progressed, I really did get involved with the story and the characters, or perhaps because it moved so quickly that it didn’t give me the time to think. Whatever the reason, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was nonstop entertainment for me.

A key to a movie like this to work are the performances. You have to have a cast that is committed, and willing to go to all the strange places you want them to – and Wright found a great one. Yes, Michael Cera’s routine is getting a little stale now, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work in this movie. It still does. I am wondering when, or if, we are ever going to see him try something different (he should, and soon), but for now it works. Winstead is gorgeous with her multicolored hair and penetrating eyes, and she seems to except all this madness going on around her. The supporting players all hit the right notes – Culkin as the wise cracking sidekick, Anna Kendrick as Pilgrim’s little sister constantly bitching at him, Wong as the overly excitable teenage fan, Mark Weber and Alison Pill as Pilgrim’s bandmates – and all seven of Winstead’s exs. They take chances with their roles and mainly they work and pull it off.

A movie like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is different from most movies because it takes those chances. If this movie had failed, it would have been awful – but for me it succeeded. Yes at times, I did wish the movie would slow down just a bit, but that speed is part of its charm. The movie takes risk, and for the most part, it succeeds.

No comments:

Post a Comment