Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

31/08/2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World did not deserve to bomb as badly as it did at the US box office. However, neither did it deserve the exorbitant amount of hype it received prior to release. The film itself falls somewhere in between worthy of the hype and box office dud.

Scott Pilgrim’s life is turned upside down when he meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams. In order to be with Ramona, he must defeat her seven evil exes…

Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is much like a live-action cartoon. The combination of computer game graphics with comic book imagery gives the film a fun and interesting look. Director Edgar Wright has excelled in creating a visually pleasing picture.

What the film gains in aesthetics it lacks in depth. The central character, Scott, is not exactly the most endearing protagonist. Cheating on his innocent girlfriend Knives with Ramona does not illicit much sympathy for him in the more emotional moments of the film. Nonetheless, the film puts emphasis on fun rather than drama, so the superficiality does not detract overly from the enjoyment.

A good portion of the humour is derived from Scott Pilgrim‘s references to popular culture. Whilst this will probably resonate with twenty-somethings, it may fall flat with younger or older audiences. The reference to ‘Mega Scott’, for example, will only be amusing to audience members versed in the classic video game Sonic the Hedgehog.

Whilst Scott himself isn’t the most likeable of protagonists, there are several entertaining characters featured. Knives Chau (played by Ellen Wong) is delightfully over excitable. Kieran Culkin is suitably cacophonous as Scott’s roommate Wallace, whilst Anna Kendrick is excellent but underused as his sister Stacey. Among the exes, Chris Evans stands out in his parody of a Hollywood movie star.

In addition to the lively graphics, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World features a great soundtrack. The film isn’t simply a case of style over substance. The film is an enjoyable watch. However, it appears to have a limited appeal. This is part due to its leading man. Michael Cera seems to play a very similar character in all his films. Unfortunately it is a character which a significant sector of filmgoers find annoying. This coupled with the video game and hipster references result in a film that will not attract a wide demographic.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an enjoyable and amusing movie, but one that does not attain the level of ‘epicness’ it clearly strives for. 

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Film Review: Youth in Revolt

08/03/2010

The tricky thing with comedy dramas is getting the balance right between the two genres. Err on the side of comedy, and risk creating characters that the audience doesn’t care about. Lay emphasis on the depth of characters and seriousness of narrative, and inevitably the laughs will be sparse. Youth in Revolt has a difficult time in marrying the two genres, thus it does not succeed too prosperously in either of them.

Michael Cera plays the central character Nick Twisp, a geeky but endearing virgin. By now, one thinks Cera would be worried about being typecast in this kind of role. Nonetheless, there is twist to proceedings; Twisp has an alter ego, Francois Dillinger, who eggs him on to do things the young teenage would usually never consider. Unfortunately, this facet does not make the narrative any more engaging.

Although there are a few humorous events in the film, these are not frequent enough to counterbalance the weak storyline. The characters are not absorbing enough, and this viewer at least was nonplussed to Twisp’s plight and the situations he gets into.

Youth in Revolt is not a terrible film. However, it is a disappointing endeavor, considering the promising cast. It lacks the belly laughs of Superbad, as well as the engaging characters that Cera’s earlier film promotes.