The Plot (no spoilers yet)
As far as I can make out - and it's not easy at first, because the film jumps all over the place at the start - the plot is based around this 22-yr-old guy called Scott Pilgrim, his band (The Sex Bob-Ombs) and his two love interests "Knives" and Ramona. Scott is a few years out of high school, and not doing much with his life except play guitar. Initially, Scott dated "Knives", a 17-yr-old high school student; as that relationship petered out he found, and against all advice started dating, Ramona. The path to true love never runs smooth, as Scott is forced to face off against Ramona's seven evil exes in order to win her heart. Scott is less-than-ably assisted (or hindered) by his gay, 25-yr-old roomie Wallace; the band, consisting of Kim, Young Neil and Stephen; his sister Stacey; and of course, his own (evil?) ex-girlfriend Envy.
The Mechanics (spoilers begin here)
Quite obviously, the film is set up to look like a video game; from the 8-bit rendering of the Universal Studios logo and theme to the 7,000,000,000 point score at the end. There wasn't any one video game directly referenced - just a more generic action-adventure game (think Mario or Kirby). I haven't seen such a film before. Sure, there's been films based around video games (Wizard is a big example) but I guess the computers that create the kickass graphics have only been this kickass for the last few years. This partly explains why Super Mario Bros. - the movie, that is - sucked so badly. Partly explains. There were other reasons ofc, mainly being that it had absolutely nothing to do with the games, save for the character names. Dick move.
It seemed to pay homage to The Matrix in some of the fight scenes. If the crew didn't include the same martial arts experts or choreographers as in The Matrix movies, I'll be surprised. I immediately drew parallels to a lot of the sequences, specifically a few of the scenes in Pilgrim looking like dead ringers of the scenes in The Matrix, and the scene with katanas reminding me so badly of the freeway chase scene from Reloaded. But enough of that.
Before I begin with my rant, the disclaimer is that I've never seen, nor had I heard of, the Scott Pilgrim
comics visual novels. The other half of the disclaimer is that before I'd seen this film, I'd heard mixed (but marginally negative) reviews. Mainly they were along the lines of "You'll love all the video game references", or "It's one of those movies you have to see, 'just because'", or "The plot was shit but the effects were pretty cool", or "Who are you and why are you asking me this shit?" So upon finally watching it, I gave my friends a quick one-word review: "Cheesy." Yup. The plot was cheesy as hell. Predictable, almost until the very end. Almost. A few bits threw me, but after I got over that, I went back to predicting the dialogue almost line-for-line. Thank you, Hollywood Action Movie Template, Hollywood Sci-Fi Movie Template and Hollywood Teen Movie Template; you've created another clone.
Not to say I hated the movie, though. If you remember, I don't judge a movie purely on plot, acting and dialogue. (The acting wasn't too bad and the dialogue was amusing.) I also judge the effects. And I judge them to be pretty good. Not fantastic, but pretty good. CGI has come a long way and it's never more obvious than when an 8-bit 1-Up appears randomly in front of Scott after crushing some twins. The effect of rushing between scenes was also an interesting one. It often left me hanging and wondering "what happened next? What happened during that extremely abrupt cut?" Soon enough, I realised that the effect was all about showing the audience Scott's stream of consciousness. If there's one thing I love in music, movies, novels and, hell, art in general, it's a good stream of consciousness1. This one wasn't too bad at all. The fights with Ramona's exes were too video-game to be real life, and assuming the plot was set up to be slice-of-life, then it had to be showing how his mind dealt with crushing Ramona's exes rather than Scott gaining super powers of his own. Mind you, it's made pretty obvious that the whole experience isn't a hallucination.
As for the acting and dialogue, as I said before neither were horrible. Michael Cera was probably one of the best choices for Scott IMO. He's done a bit of acting, and he does the dweeb bit quite nicely (think Juno). What a pity that teen movies (think Eurotrip) aren't around as much as they used to be (well, as far as I can tell, they're not...) because I reckon he'd fit right in. Aside from that, the other acting wasn't bad at all. I maintain that comedy doesn't have to be well-produced, just funny. Speaking of which, there were some good funny bits. Not every one of them was funny, though I did actively facepalm at one point. Kid you not. That point was where the Wheel Of Scott's Mind landed halfway between "I need to pee" and "Who, her?"
So. I hated the plot, because the whole boy-meets-girl-and-there-are-complications-because-girl-has-hella-issues has been done to death (actually, no, it hasn't been done to death, because we're all still waiting for that shit to die). I liked the effects, because they're new and interesting and fresh and make you look twice. I liked the feel of the shooting, because (as I said) I have a soft spot for stream-of-consciousness. I liked the video game references, because I'm a nerd. I was neutral towards the humour (though my friends pointed out, quite correctly, that a lot of the jokes were CJ jokes).
Gamers will like it. Plot-lovers will hate it. I'm giving it 6/10.
1 I also like breaking the fourth wall. That can never be done enough, to be honest. Self-referential humour is another one of my soft spots. There was none of that in this film. Damn.