Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursdays: I: En Paradiso

"And I said: 'Through the heart of Tuscany a little river, born in Falterona, winds in its course more than a hundred miles, and from its banks I bring this body here; there is no point in telling you my name, for I have not as yet won fame on earth." (CANTOXIV Purgatory)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Middle Aisle Critique: wanted-8 BIT PUNK REALISM meets GRAPHIC NOVEL STORY ARCS Directed by the guy who brought us Shaun of the Dead....

Summer of 2010 has been indeed a pseudo-disapointing summer at the movies. Around the age of 15 I began my "journey" from unenlightened child to educated student of film, and in the course of that time I have found few summers with as little to offer as the summer of 2010. Every major studio made attempts at starting new franchises, rebooting old franchises, and creating the prelimenary sequels that populate almost every summer period. In this time I have seen 3 bad films (Sorcerors Apprentice, Prince of Persia, Robin Hood), 1 entertaining yet not quite as memorable film (Iron Man 2), and three great films (Toy Story 3, Inception, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). Every other film I have skipped, merely out of a lack of interest in their subject matter, or in their overall quality.

Midaisle Critic Eric Wilkinson presents....

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a film that only happens once in a long time.
It may not have the privelage of extensive marketing, hefty source material (its based on a series of independently published graphic novels), or astounding box office numbers; but what it does have, is a completely self-sufficient universe chock full of graphic novel story arcs, archetype villains, underground punk rock rivalries, and 8-bit hyperrealism thrown in for good measure. Its literally like you are living inside of an arcade machine, if that arcade machine was populated by punk battle of the bands and 20 something angst. This film will probably not do well in the long run (box office wise); but WILL gain a cult following for its decisive usage of humor, and culture.

Scott Pilgrim is a hilarious film. The casting is seemingly perfect, even down to the cameos (Clifton Collins and Thomas Jane in a great scene stealing moment), and the direction by Edgar Wright drives the film forward as a collage of graphically visual comedy.

Though the film deters slightly from the graphic novels, Wright manages to create his own version of the source material, and does so by giving even the smallest character the chance for recognition. This in itself helps place Scott Pilgrim vs. The World above its predecessors, in that, it attempts to stylize all that remains consistent in popular culture and creates an 8-bit reality unlike which had been used in film. Knowing your audience, is something that Wright does well, as to whether moviegoers are responding, is another.
 Michael Cera is in top form, and seemingly seems to break free a bit from his traditional casting, although not completely. Ellen Wong, who plays Knives Chau, is fantastic as an over the top groupie. The Sex Bob-Ombs add good background characters, as well as Wallace Wells played by Kieran Culkin, and Stacey Pilgrim played by Anna Kendrick.

By far the film finds its greatest strengths in Pilgrim's confrontation of the 7 evil exes (pictured alongside the blog). Jason Scwartzman leads an impressive array of archetype villains against our hero and every one of them is uniquely drawn to an almost pitch perfect adaption of the comic. I personally enjoyed the fact that Michael Cera was fighting two modern super heroes in the guises of Superman (Brandon Routh, ex #3) and Captain America (a fantastic Chris Evans, ex #2). The payoff/structure of Scott's battles should not be spoiled in a review such as this, and so I will make claim that their involvement creates the crux of the films comic book dimension, while integrating a heavy atmosphere of video game physics.

The film is not a 100% flawless effort; but for what it lacks in transitionary scenes, it makes up with style. The greatest story complaint that I hold against it is surrounding Scott's confrontation of exes' #5 and #6, which seems to lack the back story elements given to the rest of the League members, and thus seems to lack continuity with the film. Ramona Flowers is an interesting character; but a few times seems pushed to the side without notice, which I found to be a bit distracting. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect, however, at playing Ramona and so I don't fault her for getting shifted around for "flow purposes".
Many critics cry foul on who the audience intended for the film happens to be; but Wright's vision for the film remains cleverly partitioned so that anyone in their late teens, or twenties will find charm in it. It surprisingly remains untouched by studio interference, which altogether might be why this film feels so much more original than so much that has come out this summer. Do yourself a favor and.... GO SEE IT