Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Case for World Beaters

Well, after a brief break, what a welcome back to the Wellington cinematic scene.

The first movie of the spring season: Scott Pilgrim versus the World. And it was great.

This is really a film for boys, based on comic book hijinks and geek underdog beating the cool guys. Michael Cera as Scott is the object of lust for every woman in this weird and wacky world of real life kneaded together with 1980s arcade games, and he, along with everyone else in the film - appears to be having a blast: Kieran Culkin's Wallace is a minor character man magnet; Chris Evans' eye brows take on a life of their own as he swaggers around as a megamacho moviestar; Brandon Routh plays a beefy vegetarian avenger; Jason Schwartzman oozes slime; Anna Kendrick serves coffee along with sisterly advice; and... well, EVERY character is cool, some in the most geeky way possible.

The main storyline is simple: Scott meets rainbow-haired Ramona, and has to deal with her exes in his attempts to woo her. Complicating matters are Scott's exes, and his not so ex Knives, and his not altogether reliable friends. Handily, a lot of things are labelled and it never gets too deep and metaphysical, though some of the references (like Scott's need to break out "the L word") only hit me a bit later on - and with not-too subtle nudges in their direction.

Even minor characters are memorable. Young Neil says about five lines all told, but his slack jawed performance is awarded by a bit of character development.

And the action scenes... Well, one could call them comical, and that would be unbelievably accurate. Fun, unreal, insane - and it had me waiting for Sub Zero or Raiden to pop up to join in the frenetic fun. The fact that noone else in the movie seems to think these super-powered scraps are anything other than normal was another constant source of joy.

And joyful I was, and the two plus hours of the film just flew by in a chaotic crayola coloured carnival, while underneath the insanity, the film's heart beat strongly.

All credit to Michael Cera for managing to hold the whole thing together as the hero. He's funny, charming, a bit of a geek, but can whip out the action hero when he needs to. And full credit to film maker Edgar Wright, also of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. More please!

Verdict: Considering what has come before, I am sure I will surprise noone by rating this insanely highly. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is lots of fun, a great tonic for a rubbishy weathered day, smart and dumb together, action and romance intertwined, and every bit of it was enjoyable. [Perhaps less so for non boys]. 9 level bosses out of 10.

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