It took me awhile to get out to see Tron: Legacy because of the sheer amount of hate for the movie that I’ve been hearing and reading about. Basically, I went in expecting the most visually impressive trainwreck $170 million could buy.
You know, it wasn’t that bad. I mean you’re going to have to suspend copious amounts of disbelief, but if you try not to think about things too much, you might actually enjoy yourself. Don’t bother yourself with details like “Why is a giant software company policed only by one fat security guard?” or “How much are they paying that guy to chase Flynn to the roof of the building and balance on top of a beam to watch as he jumps off?” And let’s not get started about the rules of a world where software programs are anthropomorphized. Can you think of a reason why would software programs need to go to a nightclub?
Just enjoy the action scenes and amazing visual aesthetics. Don’t ask yourself why certain things are happening and what they mean. The basic story is a simple “chase the gizmo and escape” tale. If you just hold onto that, you won’t have any trouble following the plot.
I don’t think I’ve fallen with a movie world’s visuals this much since Blade Runner. It makes me wonder how jaw-dropping that movie would be if given the same visual treatment today.
This image of Olivia Wilde has been seared in my minds eye forever (in a good way):
1. Toy Story 3, 2. The Social Network, 3. Animal Kingdom, 4. I Am Love, 5. Tangled , 6. True Grit, 7. The Town,8. Greenberg, 9. Cyrus, 10. Enter The Void (“Hands down best credit scene of the year … Maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history.” – QT), 11. Kick Ass.
And the runners up are 12. Knight and Day, 13. Get Him To The Greek, 14. The Fighter, 15. The Kings Speech,16. The Kids Are All Right, 17. How To Train Your Dragon, 18. Robin Hood, 19. Amer, 20. Jackass 3-D
I totally love services that require extravagant wastes of money like this. It encourages me to get to a point in my life where I can be “that guy” that buys shit like this.
Prima Cinema Inc. is the new start-up company behind the service, which would charge a one-time fee of $20,000 in order to install what they call a “digital-delivery system”, and then there would be an additional $500 fee per film. The Wall Street Journal says that Prima wants to attract “the world’s best-appointed living rooms”, which may limit the market a bit, sure, but, like Universal’s Adam Fogelson points out, it’s such a niche market that it shouldn’t harm “any of our existing partners or revenue streams.”
A hallmark of a good movie is that feeling of wanting to go home and googling everything you can about it because it was that riveting that you want to learn more stuff about it. The Social Network is definitely one of those films. Before we get into some informative articles for you to read, though, humor me for a quick review on the movie.
I went into the movie expecting it to be a dramatized film with a loose basis on actual events. In other words, I expected to see more untruths than truths. You know what? I’m glad I wasn’t an expert historian on Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg because I might have had fits trying to figure out what was true and what wasn’t. Don’t go in trying to be that guy. Aaron Sorkin’s script flows naturally and is entirely believable within the context of the film.
Sorkin does a great job of making the viewer feel smart and involved with the events leading up to the creation of Facebook. You could know nothing about technology and still feel like you have an insider’s view in Silicon Valley. I’m no accomplished server administrator or web developer, but even I know what Emacs or Apache servers are used for. You won’t see any techno-babble in this film that’s on the level of 24‘s “Chloe! Open up a socket!”
As for the directing and acting? Well, I’m pretty sure David Fincher has reached Christopher Nolan status for me in that I will see any of his films no questions asked. Did you remember that the dude directed not only Fight Club and Se7en, but also The Game, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Zodiac? Not a stinker among them. Jesse Eisenberg establishes that he possesses far more acting range than Michael Cera. Justin Timberlake did his job in his portrayal of a fairly one-dimesional Sean Parker. Andrew Garfield did his part in incepting us with feelings of sympathy for his role as betrayed partner, Eduardo Saverin. I imagine we won’t have trouble getting along with his Peter Parker role in the upcoming Spider-Man franchise reboot.
I’m sure many of you have seen The Social Network by now, but if you haven’t, I heartily recommend you do so. It’s a great film, fun yet intellectually engaging as well. Your post-movie dinner conversation will be fun, I guarantee it.
Now, let’s say you’ve just seen the movie and you want to know more about everything that went down. Here’s some extracurricular reading material to satisfy your cravings:
Vanity Fair’s Sean Parker profile. This is a must read piece on one of Silicon Valley’s brightest people. If it’s one thing the film disappointed on, it’s the one dimensional portrayal of Sean Parker as a greedy, manipulative party animal. He’s so much more.
They say that the 21st century belongs to the geeks. If that’s the case, then Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World may just be the film of the century.
Sound absurd? Maybe. But at the very least, this action-romance-comedy is the quintessential film of the geek generation.
Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) once described this movie as a cross between Say Anything and Kill Bill. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s an apt description for this deliciously fun movie based on Brian Lee O’Malley’s six volume graphic novel series.
Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a 22 year old Toronto slacker who is currently “in-between jobs.” He’s the bassist of a band with his friends and they have aspirations of signing a record label contract and making it big. On the personal front, Scott’s recently started dating high-schooler, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), as his way of rebounding from a heart-wrenching breakup he had just gone through. Scott meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), at a party and is immediately smitten by her. Unfortunately, Ramona comes with some heavy baggage in the form of “seven evil exes” which Scott must defeat in battle if he is to date her.
Sounds like a reasonable premise for a movie, right? If you can buy into that, you’re going to love this film. (If not, well, you’ll probably feel like this fuddy duddy did.)
What Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World does best is encapsulate all the things I liked about my childhood into one very nostalgic and fun film. References to video games, comic books, television, music, and pop culture naturally pepper the film throughout without seeming forced. Co-Screenwriter Michael Bacall explains the film’s secret in handling references as “…trying to make it punctuation as opposed to prose.”
Did I love every single one of the references the movie makes? Of course not. I didn’t particularly care for the pseudo Dance Dance Revolution-ninja game Scott and Knives play together, but it was a necessary plot device in the film to show a visceral video game rather than a couch/controller based one. There’s also a much ballyhooed Seinfeld reference that I didn’t LOL at personally, but I did respect the fact that they got the rights to Jonathan Wolff’s theme music from the show while also shooting the scene like an authentic Seinfeld scene.
That’s the key here – authenticity. See, the internet generation can smell a phony a mile away. A lot of the drek Hollywood has put out in the last decade reeks of cashing in (Gamer, anyone?) on what studio executives perceive as the “geek culture.”
One of the reasons why Scott Pilgrim works is because it’s crafted by geeks (Brian Lee O’Malley and Edgar Wright) who grew up with the very same things the film refers to. These people have played those video games, read those comics, watched those television shows, and listened to those bands. They just happen to be accomplished writers and filmmakers with the means and creativity to share highlights from their formative years.
Most of the video game references are general enough that people who aren’t avid video game players will enjoy them. Do you get the concept of receiving points for defeating an enemy? Ok, how about the concept of landing multiple punches in a row on an enemy constituting a “combo”? Not so obscure, right? Now, let’s take it a step further. What if defeating an enemy turns them into a bunch of coins that fall to the floor? I hope you see where the film goes with this.
For people who have played a lot of video games in their childhood, boy are you in for a treat. It starts with a smirk or maybe even a chuckle at the opening Universal logo ditty rendered completely in 8-bit sounds. Your ears will perk up when you hear the “finding a secret” sound from Zelda in the opening scene. You may even fist pump when the ethereal “choose your Zelda file” music plays during an early dream sequence. By the time you hear the announcer from Tekken exclaim “KO!” as Scott defeats the first evil Ex you’ll undoubtedly have a shit-eating grin on your face.
My personal favorite, though, was a scene in which Scott tries to deflect attention away from his girl issues by exclaiming to his band, “Hey guys, I learned the bass line from Final Fantasy II!” He then proceeds to play the battle theme from Final Fantasy II on his bass guitar!
Edgar Wright earns +999 geek credibility!
While Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’s video game references may receive the lion’s share of attention, music also plays a huge role in the film as well. Besides the core love story, the film is also about Scott’s band, Sex Bob-Omb (+200 points if you can name that reference), as it progresses through multiple battle-of-the-bands competitions in its quest to receive a lucrative label deal.
Sex Bob-Omb’s music is actually done by Beck and he hasn’t sounded this lo-fi and raw since 1994′s “Loser.” There’s no shortage of actual musical talent standing in for the other in-film “bands” either. Members of Broken Social Scene play Crash and the Boys’ music while Canadian indie rockers Metric stand in for the heavenly Clash at Demonhead. To top it all off, renowned producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead’s “sixth member”) composes an 8-bit infused punk score for the film.
Eagle-eyed viewers will notice Scott Pilgrim wearing different band T-shirts throughout the film. Plumtree and The Smashing Pumpkins (with the apropos “SP” logo) come to mind. Hell, there’s even a Tragically Hip acknowledgement in the movie! (The movie is set in Canada, after all)
The film itself is a fantastic concert of grin-inducing visual and audio effects, endearing acting, and witty repartee. Edgar Wright’s previous two films have shown that he’s a master of quick edits, scene transitions, and comedic timing. These skills allow him take Scott Pilgrim’s visual panache to dizzying heights.
It may sound trite at this point to declare that a movie is like a comic book brought to life, but it’s truly appropriate for this film. This movie is like a comic book brought to life.
Seriously, no other film this side of Sin City has come this close to imagining what a comic book would look like with live on-screen characters. Verbs and phrases in stylized lettering slickly animate onto the screen when the action calls for it. Multiple split screens capture character reactions, evoking images of split comic panels. Scenes quickly cut from one to another seamlessly, giving the feeling of hurriedly flipping to find out what’s on the next page. The film’s style is just as much of a star as any of the actors and will quite probably be the focus of word-of-mouth buzz.
image courtesy of entertainment weekly
Scott Pilgrim’s cast is a veritable who’s who of a new generation of talented Hollywood actors. Many will talk about Kieran Culkin stealing the show as Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace, and deservedly so. His grounded wisdom and comedic chops would make even a straight man want to sleep in the same bed with him. Ellen Wong is an adorable manga character come to life as Knives Chau. It’s hard to imagine that this is her film debut, as she nails every scene she’s in.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a confident and cool Ramona Flowers – I just wish there was more time to fall in love with her. The film clocks in at just about 2 hours, but between squeezing in 7 epic fight scenes and establishing Scott’s world, there’s not much time for Ramona’s character to breathe and develop fully. Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Webber, Alison Pill, and Johnny Webber round out Scott’s group of friends and they all lend their own charm to the film.
On the dark side of the room, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman delight in tormenting our precious little Scott Pilgrim. Evans in particular is memorable as an over the top skateboarder/movie star whose voice can be only described as Gob Bluth mixed with Christian Bale’s Batman. Even “unknown” actor, Satya Bhabha, has an epic Bollywood-meets-mystical-internet-humor fight scene as Ramona’s first “Evil Ex,” Matthew Patel.
I realize that the Michael Cera backlash is out in full force, but please don’t let whatever feelings you may have on him stop you from seeing this film. His performance is decidedly Ceran, but he does do the Scott Pilgrim character justice. If you want to, you can even talk yourself into believing that Cera has increased his acting range to include nerd-rage and almost-asshole.
Plus, if you’re an Arrested Development fan you won’t want to miss the George Michael/Ann reunion during the film. Yes, Mae Whitman is in this movie and no, she’s not quite as…homely.
I’m 28 years old. I’ve seen movies in the past that I could partly relate to as a portrait of a generation. Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything comes to mind as a particular highlight. I just wasn’t born in the right era to call it my own.
With Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, my generation finally has its Say Anything. That is, if Lloyd Dobler could wield a flaming sword and inflict a 64-hit air combo on Diane’s dad.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World opens in US theaters on August 13th.
This week’s guest is io9 editor, Lauren Davis. Join us, as we talk about her adventures in Tokyo and preview a bit of what to expect at the San Diego Comic Convention next week, including upcoming blockbusters such as Avatar, New Moon, Tron 2.0, and more!
This is kinda cool. Plasmic Studios have created a nice Flash presentation comparing original panels of Watchmen comic pencils to the “live action” movie posters that were created for the upcoming film release in 2009. Ozymandias looks a little scrawny and malnourished, but other than that, the “real” renditions look pretty bad ass.
With all of the brouhaha over last year’s No Country For Old Men, it’s hard to remember that the Cohen Brothers actually have some chops making comedies. The above trailer for their upcoming film, Burn After Reading, will remind you what it was like to smirk, nay, grin again.
On an anticipation scale of 1-3, I’ll give this one a “Maybe Want.”
Variety is reporting that Pirates of the Carribbean director, Gore Verbinski, is attached to direct and produce the Bioshock movie.
“Bioshock” publisher Take-Two Interactive is getting a multimillion-dollar advance against gross points on the pic. It’s believed to be the biggest videogame-to-movie deal since 2005, when U and Fox signed onto the since aborted “Halo” pic, for which Microsoft got $5 million against 10%.
Bioshock was unquestionably the most cinematic game to come out in 2007. The game juxtaposed some strong imagery with uncomfortable themes. With it’s strong narrative and memorable setting, it makes sense that Hollywood would be quick to jump on it. While it could be argued that the Pirates sequels were a bit plodding, Verbinski’s talent in creating visually stunning blockbuster movies is unquestionable.
Given the poor track record of video game movies, I’m going to be cautiously optimistic about this one. I currently have my expectations set roughly on par with the Wachowskis’ V For Vendetta film adaptation – solid, but not quite up to the standards of the original.
I’m a big proponent of movie studios releasing the first 10-15 minutes of movies for free on the web. It’s perfect for movies like Speed Racer where I’m on the fence about whether I want to see it or not. Sometimes the trailer just isn’t enough to give you a good idea of the film.
As for the movie, despite the obvious green screen/Saturday morning cartoon feel, the F-Zero-like racing sequences seem fun enough that I would watch it.