Monday, 15 November 2010

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Indie films; often incredibly pretentious pieces of crap with ridiculously convoluted plots designed to make you think you're clever by "getting it". In reality you merely, ironically, fit in with millions of similar like-minded "geniuses" who came to the same generic conclusions as you. No, 'hipsters', you're not special or alternative with your self-perceived grander understanding of the universe. Now, given Michael Cera has a preponderancy toward these kind of films (Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Youth in Revolt), 'doubt' isn't even the word that would describe my feeling toward the latest indie-hype, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is an aimless 22-year old in a garage band (indie enough for you?) dating a 17-year old high school girl, Knives (Wong) (what a delightfully 'alternative' name). When he spots Ramona Flowers (Whitman), he falls head over heels in love, making it his mission to go out with her. But there's a catch; he must first fight and defeat her seven evil Exes in order to attain his goal.

Firstly, Scott Pilgrim is an all-out assault against your senses. Draped in flashing neon acid with pulsating kaleidoscopes and loud bangs, it is small wonder one is not subject to a seizure. It is unlike anything you've seen in an indie film before, or indeed any film for that matter. The aesthetic plays to the film's premise of Scott fighting elaborately super-powered Exes, taking on the style of retro arcade games such as Street Fighter. Power-ups litter the screen whilst little health bars appear over the character's heads as they disintegrate into coinage when defeated. If there's one reason you should see this film it would be for its artistry, because it is uniquely immense.

The same however can not be said for the plot. If you break it down, Scott Pilgrim is, at its core, yet another story of awkward teenage relationships. The only difference being that director Edgar Wright has bathed it in radiation and given it a luminous glow. And it's not even a particularly new or insightful take on a genre that has been done to death, eliciting next to no emotional connection to any of the characters. Indeed, the narrative bounds along at such a frantic pace that all the scenes feel strangely disjointed. Nothing is ever really explained or explored as the film is paced in such a way so as to be able to squeeze in all Scott's fight sequences. The worst thing about this however is that after the first battle, the subsequent fights get progressively shorter and less inspiring until the finale where it picks up again for the final bang. And while I garnered that there was supposed to be some sort of moral lesson buried in all of this, I could scarcely touch upon it as I remained distracted by the bright flashing lights and loud noises.

One reviewer claimed that the tale was one about taking responsibility, learning about the consequences of your actions on others and that old cliche of 'growing up'. Well I can tell you that's a crock of shit, because none of that came through. Without giving away the ending, it actually suggests the opposite to all those things. I know Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has enjoyed enormous success and naturally I expect all these hipster kidz to claim they've found 'deeper meaning' in it. But it is difficult to view this film as anything more than style over substance.