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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ultimate Geek Fu: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: A Comic Book/Video Game Adaptation that Really Does Work
Stuart Watkinson

The story revolves around Scott Pilgrim, a 22 year old man/boy who is having girl problems. They start off like the everyday problems of a person his age. Until, he meets Ramona. He falls in love almost instantly and things seem to be on the up and up for young Scott. Then he meets one of her exes. That’s where things change. You see, Ramona has Seven Evil Ex’s that Scott has to defeat before he can date her. Pretty rough, I know. This film is a comic book/video game adaption that really does work, unlike many other comic book and video game conversions. That... is the very short synopsis that I’m going to give, because I’m at work and I think you should all go out see this!

[Here there be spoilers…]

I went into this film knowing very little about it. I had seen a few shorts here and there and spied a few of the comics in shops, but basically all I knew was that someone was going to be fighting a whole bunch of people... The World, in fact.

The first thing you notice is how much effort has been put into recreating the experience of playing late 80's early 90's video games. The pixilation and midi style music reminded me of so many of the games from that era. I had thought that this film would run very close to that of a video game, because of the fact that Kersley had requested some who knew something about video games. I was however very wrong. It's a film based on a comic book that has aspects of gaming thrown in and is even filmed as if each scene was placed on a comic book page. Which made for very interesting scene changes and typography, especially all the THUMPS, POWS and KA-DOOSHS that hovered above every fight scene.

But! Video games! This film is riddled with video games references. For example, almost every fight that Scott has with the Evil Ex’s is reminiscent of at least one video game, or Anime cartoon. First fight with Mathew Patel was clearly a Street Fighter clone, from the camera angles to the fighting styles. Even the ‘finishing’ moves were straight out of that game. The second Evil Ex, Scott Lucas, a douche bag, was the Tony Hawks skate boarding game parallel. Grinding down a hand rail gaining points for distance, style and tricks? Totally Tony. Todd Ingham, the third Evil Ex, he again was a fighting game clone, but I got a Dragon Ball Z feel from him. The magic, flying, eyes blazing powerful villain verse the weaker good natured villain, that is standard DBZ stuff. Roxanne "Roxie" Richter’s, number four, fight scene got me thinking of Soul Caliber, mainly because that game revolved around hot girls with big weapons fighting it out. And that’s what happened.

The fifth and sixth were by far the coolest, The Katayanagi Twins. This fight was mix between Guitar Hero and Yu Gi Oh, even though I’m not sure if Yu Gi Oh is a video game yet. What you had was Scott’s band on one side of the arena and The Katayanagi Twins on the other side. The aim of the game was to be loudest and blow the other off the stage. It turned into a battle of music personified as giant creatures, two serpents dragons for The Twins and a King Kongish for Scott’s band. Which is the same thing that happens in Yu Gi Oh, except they use collector cards not band equipment. Very cool fight scene here, and Kudos for the ‘They tore the roof off’ quote in that scene.

Now to the last fight scene, what actually happens I’ll leave out for this one, mainly because I can’t pin point a specific game to it but also it’s worth seeing. It did however leave me thinking about the way that the story line had progressed and once again, even that reminded me of a few games. Firstly, Karateka, an ancient game on the Apple IIe (look it up, it is old man). Probably the first, or one the first, fighting games ever made. The story is simple, the bad guys have your girlfriend/wife/lover and you have to fight your way to the top and defeat the ‘Big Boss’. It is also the same sort of story line that you found in many Super Nintendo role playing games, like... like... err... well they were all like that. You have to save you girlfriend/sister/mum/dad/uncle/village and along the way you learn the power of courage/love/respect/etc, which you use to defeat the villain/evil emperor/crazy stepbrother/begrudged shop keeper.

Then there for the other things. Health meters? Weapon stats? Coins? There were many of these, but coins stood out the most for me. Scott got coins every time he defeated an Evil Ex. In Mario you collect coins, and when you get X amount you get a free life or, in other words, a 1 up. That’s exactly what Scott gets after he earns X amount, which he uses to learn from his mistakes and defeat his foe! This was one of the many video game references that were in the film. After doing a bit more research I discovered a massive amount of other references that I have missed, far too many to note them all. Majority of them have a relation to Nintendo games though, which makes sense considering they are the main creator of Japanese video games in the world.

So to wrap up, I thought this film was great. More than great really, I’m even going watch it again. It took aspects from video games, comic books, and Anime to create an action packed, visually astounding film. It had a very clear target audience but I would recommend it to everyone. Video games aside, this was good. The way it was filmed made you feel like you were actually reading a comic book sometimes. Well worth a watch, hop to it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: A Chick Flick
Kersley Fitzgerald

I didn’t know that SP was a comic book when I went to see the movie. And I know very little about video games. But that’s okay, because Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a chick flick. Not a chick flick like 27 Dresses or The Notebook. A chick flick like The Last of the Mohicans or Knight and Day.

It’s about a damaged guy falling for a damaged girl and realizing he has to grow up if he’s going to rescue her from her past. It’s about a girl who finds someone who thinks she’s worth fighting for—someone who’s willing to cut through the morass of her previous relationships and what she’s come to believe about herself.

It is so anti-Twilight I can’t even tell you.

Ramona is running from her past. She had some bad relationships in her time, and although she had the presence of mind to end them, they still left their mark. Particularly the last guy; she knows he’s no good for her, but he messed with her head so much she can’t break away emotionally. She moves from the States to Canada, hoping a change in geography will help her forget that she’s damaged goods.

Scott Pilgrim doesn’t care; he just likes Ramona’s hair. He’s had his own string of careless mistakes, but he’s not self-aware enough to realize it. There’s something about Ramona that calls to him—despite his current girlfriend, despite the warnings of his friends, and despite the fact the demons from her past show up just as things are getting good. Even when she runs, afraid of getting too close and discovering Scott is just another bad ex, waiting to happen.

He runs after her—like Heath Ledger runs after Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You. He sacrifices his dignity and fights for his woman. It isn’t easy, and the results aren’t a given, but she’s worth it.

This movie got so many relationshippy things so right. Sometimes women do run away from their own battles when it gets hard. Sometimes they do need a guy to stand up to their past and tell them they deserved better. Sometimes, hearing “Sorry” is enough. And sometimes the nice guy only gets that reputation because he’s too dense to realize what a line of destruction he’s left in his wake.

By being protected, the girl gets empowered. By admitting what a jerk he’s been, the guy becomes a man. Apparently there was some comic-booky, video-gamey stuff in there, too. I probably would have caught it had it been related to Lego Harry Potter.

I wonder what I’d look like with orange hair...
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