October 30, 2010

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. ME


Now, first of all, let me say that this is not a review, not a deconstruction or a professional analysis. This is an opinion, and as opposed to arrogant assholes like Carson Reeves I know what the difference is, and will not dress up an opinion as a review.

I saw Scott Pilgrim last night. Again. And it is one of those movies that I really wanted to like. It's directed by Edgar Wright, who did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and who I consider to be one of the few true masters of modern comedic timing. I don't know the books, so my apologies to Brian O'Malley, because I cannot say how much of the movie was directly taken from his creation and how much was added or subtracted.

I wanted to like it.

And there was much I did like. Visually? It is just the most brilliant film I have seen in ages. If you are my age, you know all the little jokes and what they are playing off, including little nods to Pac Man and Donkey Kong and Seinfeld and and and... but especially it's the bits that are really, really subtle. Like, when Scott's dream girl Ramona skates away from him, on a winter morning, the snow actually melts underneath her feet, she is that hot. And there are little wonderful nods here and there, and some brilliant dialogue, and an incredibly funny cameo as well.

There is a piss take on Bollywood during a fighting sequence that made me laugh out loud, and it has little demon ghost girls as well (with tiny bat wings!). Everything that takes the mickey out of Bollywood crap will get a rightful laugh from me. And there is a piss take on veganism and Superman at the same time. Again, made me laugh out loud.

All these things I loved.

But it strangely doesn't come together as a story. I never understood why Scott Pilgrim chases Ramona in the first place. I mean, other than having awesome neon blue/pink/neon green hair styles. I couldn't find myself rooting for either of them in a meaningful way, because there is nothing there, really. And so both characters are getting constantly upstaged by the supporting cast.

It's supposed to be a love story, and I couldn't see why these two would fall for each other.

It was – and this is shown in the dialogue, too – more like,

"So this means we are dating?"

"Yeah, whatever."

"Does it mean we can make out?"

"Why not."


If played right, that bit of dialogue could have been wonderful. It was played, though, with a cold, uncaring tone. And I wondered, why do you want to be together? Why are you fighting for her? She's not a nice person. No, let me rectify that. She is not a person at all. She's just a cipher, Ramona is.

It's there where the movie fails for me (and maybe the books failed there as well). There is no deeper connection there. In the end it is a movie about love where you don't believe that these two are worthy to be together.

And to a degree, you can see that failure the most profoundly in the ending, where the schoolgirl Knives Chau (previously dumped by Scott Pilgrim) and Pilgrim himself
 display – during a final fight – that they belong together, that their way of interacting is – in the words of the video gaming world – a perfect combo.

If you use the video game battle sequences as a metaphor of whether somebody belongs together or not, that final fight would have proven that Knives and Scott Pilgrim belonged together, and yet... it ends with Pilgrim and Ramona walking away together.

And again, if that's what you wanted, okay, fine, but Knives giving him up to Ramona at the end just rings hollow.

"I'm too cool for you, anyway."

At least they should have had the decency of having Pilgrim reply, with a smile.

"Yes. Yes, you are."

It is weird, really. I watched it, and it left me cold at the end. One has to applaud Wright for the audicity of making a movie that could very well be the very first decent video game movie ever (even if based on a comic book), where the gaming conventions don't feel out of place and delightfully silly...

... watch for Chris Evans doing essentially a Tony Hawk game, and see what really happens when you do a grind down a slippery rail at 309 kph...

... but I wish it had been done for a story that was better than this one, with characters that are not as shallow. Having said that, I still think it was worth watching it, and the battle sequences will likely make me laugh out loud even when I catch it again on the telly or on DVD.