Tag: nice guy

Walter Mitty (1UP)

by on Aug.16, 2010, under Comics, Movies

Scott Pilgrim vs The World would have been the best video game movie if it was, in fact, based on a video game instead of on a comic book informed by video games. As it is, it’s a brisk and hilarious mishmash of comic book tropes, which work poorly, video game tropes, which work really well, and dreadful gender politics.

The comic book (which I haven’t read — maybe Big Josh will weigh in) introduced a video-game world that the movie faithfully reproduces. Chyrons spring up around characters and props, placing them in context and giving the viewer vital information as if about an opponent. When Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) fights each of his girlfriend Ramona’s evil exes, the fights are riffs on Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter and other arcade games from the period just following Q*bert and the collapse of my own interest (I will whup you at Ms. Pac-Man, but little else).

In addition to the video game stylistics, the movie also employs comic book stylistics, which suffer in comparison to the former. No movie has played with comic book aesthetics better than American Splendor. Ang Lee’s Hulk gave it a try, but Harvey Pekar’s story benefited from having the form address the content — it is the story of a man who tells his own life in comics. In Scott Pilgrim, the form and experience of video games is native to the original story, which (like The Hulk) happened to be told in comic book form. So effects like having visible ‘D-D-D-D-D’s come out of Scott’s bass, or animating the exit wound when drummer Kim pantomimes shooting herself, add nothing but clutter.

The style of the film is exciting in other, more light-handed ways. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) hopscotches through the first act, jumping from setting to setting while remaining in one linear conversation. I’ve seen it done before, but never so deftly or without care for suspension of disbelief, and it allows Scott’s world to be introduced visually without any expositional slowing.

Spoilers and gender politics-grumbling below the fold.

(continue reading…)

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