Trouble Thinking

August 16, 2010

SCOTT PILGRIM IS PRETTY GOOD, EH?

So I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about this young man Scott Pilgrim recently.

He’s a man of many talents! He plays bass, fights better than anyone else in the entire province, and stars in his own comic, game, and movie!

Scott Pilgrim’s 3 main things:

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD


Is first because this is the only one you and your friends will bother with because you are so LAZY.

It is a movie! It stars young Michael Cera of tremulousness fame as the titular Scott Pilgrim. It is directed by Edgar Wright, of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz fame.

The movie is fast-paced, exciting, visually astonishing, creative, well-edited, well acted and straight-up balls to the wall awesome considered as a whole.

CAST:
Scott PilgrimRock out with your Scott out is a boy who wants to date this girl Ramona, but because her evil exes have formed a League, he’s bound by common law to defeat each of them in battle. He’s a nice guy, sort of. He’s oblivious, driven (sometimes), fun-loving, self-absorbed, naive, and easily infatuated. He’s also the protagonist!

Sex Bob-Omb Is Scott’s band, composed of two of his friends from high school, Kim PinesKim possible! and Stephen StillsThe talent (the talent). Kim and Scott dated once, he’s pretty sure everything’s cool now and she’s pretty sure she’d like him to die painfully. Stephen Stills is just concerned that Scott’s girl drama will cockblock the rock. It’s cool though, the band sucks anyway.

Knives ChauKnives to meet you! is Scott’s new girlfriend, and therefore rebound. She is also a 17 year-old Catholic schoolgirl, which says a lot about Scott. She is hopelessly in love with him, in spite of that being such a terrible idea.

Ramona Flowers
Ramooooonaaa rah-mo-naaaa is Scott’s new new girlfriend. Literally the girl of his dreams (she takes a shortcut through them to make deliveries on time), she is also one of the mystical Americans, badass, stylish, interesting, mysterious, and maybe just a bit fickle. She agrees to date Scott, but there’s a catch: in order to date Ramona, Scott must defeat…

The League of Evil Exes, who control the past and future of Ramona’s love life. There are seven of them, each more deadly and douchey than the last. ToddToooooddddd, for instance, is a vegan. Possessed of the telekinetic/telepathic powers imbued in all vegans at Vegan Academy, he’s a serious opponent for our hero!

The movie is spectacularly fun. It’s the best example of inserting cartoon aesthetics into real life that I’ve ever seen. It is literally a comic come to life, and the fact that sound effects appear in onomontopoeia on the screen is only part of that, it’s an aesthetic that suffuses the whole movie. It’s also a video game come to life, as evidenced by the “Vs” and fight voiceover that happens whenever a fight breaks out.

Scott Pilgrim lives in a world viewed through the lens of his childhood obsessions. Luckily, it seems that everyone else does too. There is, for instance, a complete lack of shock displayed by bystanders when defeated enemies turn into piles of Canadian coins.

The movie manages to one-up the book in some cases as well. Whereas the musical elements of the comic were suggested, in the movie they’re vibrantly alive. For instance, the “Bass Battle” between Scott and Todd becomes significantly more interesting when you can hear which of them is the better man. The bands floating through the story are all given a chance to show off their unique sounds, sucking in a variety of interesting ways. The opening of the film is set to Sex Bob-Omb practicing the incomprehensible, loud, poorly written, but very fun “Launchpad McQuack (working title)” in Stephen Still’s shitty apartment, and it sets the pace of the film. Some of the later fights are massively enhanced by the addition of a soundtrack, giving them an even greater sense of manic intensity.

Speaking of fights: the fights in this movie are amazing. They manage to incorporate cartoonish sensibility, top-notch martial art choreography, interesting gimmicks, a great sound-track, and a lot of humor each time. After the first fight, which included a bollywood nod, fireballs, Super Street Fighter 2 combos and reversals, and hot demon hipster chicks, I knew this movie was going to keep my interest.
K.O.!

You might be thinking in your tiny, tiny little brains “But wait, Troublethinking, I’m no ‘gamer’, I’m no ‘hep cat’, I’m not ‘pathologically Canadian’. How in the world will I understand this film, how in the world could I enjoy it?” Well, first of all: seven fucking awesome fights, and a lot of humorousness in between should be enough, you jerk. But, magnanimous that Troublethinking is, we brought a “test case” to see it: 60 years old, and as cool as the surface of the sun. He loved it simply for the creativity of presentation, despite knowing barely anything about the cultural touchstones the movie refers to with it’s visuals and sound. The point is: this is a girl-meets-boy story with a bunch of sweet fights, you don’t need a degree in 20-something to get what’s happening.

Go out and see this movie, you jerks. You waited until Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were out of the theaters and now everyone knows you suck, this is your chance to make good.

SCOTT PILGRIM’S PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE


Is a comic book. Well, it’s more of a sort of Manga, the Japanese small fat ones you see in huge rows at book stores. Also known as “the only type of comic book sold to people under 40”. The chain of events in the book is basically the same as in the movie, but decompressed and given some room to breathe. The intensity is lowered from a fever pitch to a pleasant clip with some moments of introspective discussion. It delves much more deeply into the pasts and emotional conditions of both Scott and those around him, and characters are developed more thoroughly. Though it lacks the sheer impact of the big-screen, the fighting is pretty awesomely presented and similarly hilarious.
K.O.!

The whole thing could be seen as a parody of love-story comics, and genre conventions, but it doesn’t really require a steady understanding of the form to enjoy. It’s a solid story about love, growing up, being useless, and being awesome.

There are six books total in the series:
Vol 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
Vol 2: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Vol 3: Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness
Vol 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
Vol 5: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe
Vol 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour

All of them are pretty sweet, and the nice part is they only cost $7 a pop. That is about as much as a lunch, a bad lunch.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Movie: The Game

Select!

Scott Pilgrim also has a pretty awesome game out right now, coinciding with the movie. An even faster paced retelling of the story, the game focuses on the fighting first and foremost, the fanservice second and aftmost, and the rest is just gravy. It plays like old-school brawlers (The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games are my reference points, but there are literally dozens of these sort of games for NES/SNES and other older systems). Now, for those of you who have no clue what the hell that means:

You and your friends each pick a character from 4 choices. Then, you walk from left to right. Sometimes, people jump out and try to beat you up. By tapping buttons for attack/defense/special at the right time, you beat the shit out of these people in style, and win the adoration of millions.
The Game!

It’s a lot of fun with friends, and everyone should give it a go. Plus, look at how pretty that is! You may remember those sprites from the cast list, they’re by Paul Robertson (WARNING: Not Safe For Work). Roberston is a Melbournean artist who makes truly amazing stuff with pixels.

The game has gotten a ton of praise from all corners, with reviewers generally agreeing that it’s a spectacular example of what modern sensibility can do with older game styles.

The game is only $15, the cost of an okay dinner! Split it between your roommates and let them play it with you. Right now it’s been released on the Playstation 3, on their “Playstation Network” downloadable games service. It will be out on the 25th of August for the X-Box 360 on their own downloadable games service “X-Box Live Arcade”.

Here is a quick preview!

BONUS ROUND: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE ANIMATION

Dude! Check this thing out, a flashback in animation! Think of it as a quick prequel!

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