Friday, April 6, 2012

Film Friday: Scott Pilgrim v. The World (2010)

When I first saw Scott Pilgrim, I did not enjoy it. The film lost me right away and never recovered. But I gave it another chance after realizing I had looked at the film in the wrong way. I thought it was a comic book film, but it really isn’t -- it’s a videogame brought to life. I am now of two minds regarding this film. If you have no affinity for videogames, then this movie is not for you. It stinks. BUT, if you enjoy videogaming, then this movie is a brilliant parody.

** spoiler alert **
Plot
Scott Pilgrim is the story of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), a Toronto youth who fronts a band (Sex Bob-omb) with some friends and happens to be dating a high school girl named Knives Chau. His friends are all deeply-depressed slackers. As the film begins, he meets delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and convinces her to go out with him on a date. Because of this, Scott soon finds himself under attack from each of her evil exes. In fact, they have formed the League of Evil Exes, and they attack anyone she dates. The rest of the movie involves Scott fighting each of these exes, while being stalked by Knives as his band tries to win a record contract.
You Will Not Like This Film
If you have no affinity for video- games, you will dislike this film. . . a lot. The film itself is nonsense. Its plot is an excuse for a series of fight scenes and little holds these scenes together. The characters are completely without depth and are hard to like because they are all angry, depressed slackers. Michael Cera is even harder to like because he’s lifeless and simply has no charisma -- he comes across as someone you would go out of your way to avoid in real life, and that makes him hard to watch on film. He’s also so whiny and so full of self-pity that you pretty much want to see him get hurt. Finally, the film loses touch with reality repeatedly as videogame elements suddenly appear, such as money raining from the sky whenever Scott beats a bad guy. For most people, these elements will make this an unbearable film.
You Will Love This Film
But let us assume you have an affinity for gaming. Then this film is something else entirely. What Scott Pilgrim really is at its core is a satire of a videogame tropes. It is the kind of film which points out things gamers laugh about.

Turning videogames into films has proven to be a challenge for Hollywood. This is because videogame characters tend to be two-dimensional and because gaming elements don’t translate well to film. So Hollywood has tried several different routes. Films like Prince of Persia and Laura Croft took the characters and turned them into generic action heroes. But these films ended up flat because neither the characters nor the plot offered much depth and fans complained they didn’t capture the spirit of the game. Films like Resident Evil and Hitman tried to include game-like dialog at points and game-like tasks to transfer “the feel” of the game. Unfortunately, “game feel” isn’t what most audiences are after, and these moments felt stiff. Doom actually gave the audience a first-person shooter view for a couple minutes, which seems pretty stupid in hindsight. Super Mario Bros. was made as a comedy with Bob Hoskins and Jon Leguizamo asked to breathe life into the characters. Final Fantasy came close to capturing the game feel, except it didn’t use any of the game characters. Nevertheless, it scored the highest of any videogame film at Rotten Tomatoes with a pathetic 43% (most of these films didn’t get out of the teens). To put a point on this, no one has really been able to adapt a videogame to the big screen yet because no one is quite sure what audiences want from a game adaptation.

Scott Pilgrim tried something unique -- it decided to be unapologetic about being a videogame. Hence, it follows the structure of a videogame and its characters are never phased by the game elements, like when people have strange superpowers, or when people explode into coins when they lose fights, or when scores and instructions appear on screen. Interestingly, this unique approach gives the film a neat vibe which easily allows the viewer to suspend their disbelief, something which is much more difficult in the films like Doom, which pretend they aren’t videogames.

At the same time, Scott Pilgrim mercilessly mocks videogames. For example, after an intro which feels like a slacker film shot on a budget not large enough to buy the crew lunch at the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, Scott engages in a series of what are called “boss battles” in videogame parlance. A boss is simply a named villain the hero must defeat to move on to the next level. Each boss is meant to have a unique power and is more powerful than the last. And that’s where the seven exes come in -- each has their own theme. For example, the first ex conjures Indian Bollywood dancers and tries to defeat Scott using a musical number. Another fights him with a skateboard. Another comes after him in a battle of the bands, and so on. In each instance, the powers they use are like the sorts of things you find in videogames, only these powers are utterly ridiculous. And therein lies the parody.

Further, the way the characters react also is parody. Indeed, all videogame characters are intensely earnest. Yet the characters here are downright blasé about everything. . . “Scott might die? Ok, we’ll be at the coffee shop.” Moreover, these characters constantly wonder why they are doing this. In effect, they marvel at the pointlessness of the game in which they reside. No videogame character would ever do that, but gamers laugh about it.

The conclusion of the film also completely mocks the idea that character’s lives can be relived with different choices made as Scott is able to come back from the dead and “try again,” a common occurrence in video- games. When he does, he rather hilariously rushes through the pre-boss challenges he faced on that level so he can get back to where he was when he died. . . just like every real gamer has done a million times -- right down to forcing their way through the henchmen without waiting for them to deliver their lines. And then he make a different choice and is awarded different powers to use against the boss, something which make no sense in a film, but makes total sense in a game.

What this film does, which no other film has done to date, is translate a videogame directly into a film without removing the ridiculous game elements. To the contrary, it embraces those elements, exaggerates them and mocks them. And in so doing, it creates a fantastic parody of the silliness of videogames. But it also makes this a niche movie. That’s why Scott Pilgrim will appeal to video gamers but probably no one else.

Finally, as an interesting aside, Scott Pilgrim doesn’t actually come from a videogame. . . it comes from a comic book, which makes its success even more intriguing. What’s more, this film received an 81% at Rotten Tomatoes -- almost double the next best videogame-to-film translation. Fascinating.

80 comments:

ScottDS said...

This film pretty much became a cult classic the weekend it was released. The initial numbers were disappointing but it now has a regular midnight slot at one of the old theaters in LA and a huge web presence.

I'm not a gamer (with the exception of anything with Mario in the title) but I loved this movie. It's so completely different from anything else out there. I didn't find Scott's friends to be depressed at all - sarcastic, a little bitter... but not depressed. The gay roommate steals the show and I've added Mary Elizabeth Winstead to my list of future ex-wives. :-)

As you may have noticed, I don't have any deep thoughts but you more or less nail it: if you're open-minded and/or into gaming, then you'll enjoy the film. If you hate videogames and/or modern slacker culture (whatever that is), you'll hate it. The visual effects, I thought, were borderline excellent. All the technical aspects were top-notch.

The film was directed by Edgar Wright who, unlike some other comedy directors, knows how to use the frame to make a joke even funnier. (The best example of this is when the roommate opens the door, sees Knives, and tries to shut the door as we see Scott jump out the window in the background.)

For me, the funniest thing in the movie was the two vegan cops giving each other a high five in the background with an exaggerated "Yeah!!!"

tryanmax said...

Excellent analysis (as always), Andrew! I really have nothing to add that I haven't said before. Honestly, the worst thing about this movie was the marketing, which is high praise in my book.

Scott, I too have already seen midnight showings of Scott Pilgrim on the marquee of our local "old-timey movie house." (Sadly, my city only has one left.) Usually a film needs to be at least 15 years old to make the midnight slot. (The original TMNT is playing this weekend. And I feel old.)

I think the photo included in this article awakened me to a trope that tvtropes.org hasn't picked up on yet: "The Redheaded Ex." In lots of movies where the protagonist mostly pines for a girl he considers out of reach, his primary confidant is a girl with red hair that he used to date.

T-Rav said...

Not true. I have no affinity for video games, and I rather liked this movie. I wouldn't say I love it--at times, its ridiculousness is just too much--but I overall enjoyed it. And I second what Scott said about Winstead. ;-)

tryanmax said...

Scott, T-Rav, are you both saying Winstead wasn't already on your list after Grindhouse? What is wrong with you two?

DUQ said...

I didn't like this film at all.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The whole vegan thing was hilarious. "Chicken's not vegan?"

I like Edgar Wright's stuff a good deal, but I will admit that he is an acquired taste. A lot people simply don't like his understated style.

On the effects, it's funny because the visuals of the film change throughout, and the first time one of the things which lost me was the brown/gray intro which looked like this was going to be one of those films shot in somebody's basement with fluorescent lighting. It wasn't until the first fight that visuals really became anything less than painful for me. And at that point, the effects became really inspired.

Winstead is fantastic. She was intensely cute in Deathproof.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Thanks! I think you're right about the marketing. When I first saw this film, I expected a comic book film and it really fails in that regard -- it was like expecting a comedy and finding a drama. But when you mentioned it was a gaming film, I watched it again from that perspective and it suddenly all made sense... the boss battles, the rushing through henchmen after using the second life, the reason people burst into coins, etc.

This was a pretty daring film if you think about it because it did something no one else had done and in so doing knew it would limit it's audience appeal.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, It's possible that non-gamers will enjoy it, but I think it's highly unlikely and I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn't enjoy gaming. Coincidentally, if you see it as a videogame movie, then it really isn't weird at all -- it follows all the rules games follow.

Winstead is really, really cute.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Good question! That was the film that get her noticed in my book!

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I can't blame you. I didn't like it when I saw it the first time. It took me rethinking the film and seeing it as a videogame brought to the big screen before I enjoyed it. I take you don't like gaming?

Doc Whoa said...

Excellent analysis, Andrew! I liked this film because it was quirky, but I didn't think of it as a videogame, but you are right!

I wonder if anyone else will go this route in the future? I'm not sure it would work with anyone who wanted to produce a more serious videogame, but it might work for a comedic game?

What's your favorite game-to-film game besides this one?

DUQ said...

Andrew, No, not really. Games aren't my thing.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, No crime there.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, Grindhouse is the Tarantino movie, right? Was she in that? I don't remember seeing her in that.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, That seems to be what T-Rav found too. Still, I can't really recommend this film to most people because it's just not the kind of film which will find mass appeal -- it is definitely a niche film.

I don't think anyone else will go this route because it will immediately be seen as a copy. Although, I guess you go WAY over the top and make an action/game film like this. I don't have any candidates, but something like Doom could have been done this way rather than the half/half way they went.

My favorite game film? Hmm. Let me think about that.

T-Rav said...

DUQ, games aren't my thing either. It's not that I dislike them so much, but I've known a lot of people who got so deep into them they neglected everything else, which struck me as a pretty unhealthy habit (he said as he continued blogging, when he should be finishing a book review).

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Grindhouse was the name for the two films jammed together by Tarantino. His part was called Deathproof and she was the actress in the yellow cheerleader costume. (LINK)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, A good game can be addictive, a great game can be really addictive. The Final Fantasy series are like that -- you can play those days non-stop.

DUQ said...

T-Rav, I just don't enjoy games. I like the older ones like PacMan and Asteroids enough, but the new ones just don't interest me.

DUQ said...

Also, my favorite game film is Resident Evil.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, It's definitely a niche film, there's no doubt about that, and you've spelled that out nicely.

My favorite game film, by the way, is Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. She was a cool hero and the story was fun.

Doc Whoa said...

T-Rav, You should do your homework! ;D

I've found myself addicted to Tetrus at times, especially when I was trying to avoid working.

Kelly said...

I loved this film! It was so strange and unusual. I don't like Cera though. I think it would have helped if they'd replaced him.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Pacman and Asteroids are awesome. I do like a lot of the newer games, but I find that most of them are simply the older games hidden behind graphics.

Resident Evil is a solid film and an excellent adaptation. I'm still thinking about my favorite.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Tetrus is cool. Often times, the simpler games are the most addicting. The most addicting game I've played though was either Civilization or Railroad Tycoon. The coolest game though was Kingdom Hearts.

I definitely think this is a niche film. And there's nothing wrong with that. To the contrary, the world needs more niche films! Those are the ones that end up becoming awesome cult classics.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, I wondered about that myself. I find Cera such a turn-off on screen that I actively avoid his films. I wonder if this wouldn't have been better (at least for general audiences) if they had used someone more likable?

tryanmax said...

My favorite video game movie is Metroid, which in this reality has never been made. In the reality I wake up in when I go to sleep in this one, it was written by Damon Lindelof and Jonathan Nolan, directed by Michael Bay, and starred Tricia Helfer. But then I have to wake back up in this crappy reality.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I haven't seen Deathproof, only the first part that Robert Rodriguez did. Meh.

As for Edgar Wright... understated? Between Spaced and Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I would call him anything but understated! Hyper, kinetic, fast-paced... not understated. The point I was trying to make was something I mentioned in my Apatow article. Wright knows how to use the camera to accentuate a gag whereas Apatow's camera just sits there. I realize they don't exactly make the same kind of movies but I appreciate the extra effort Wright brings to the material.

Oh, and you just had to mention the Super Mario Bros. movie, didn't you?! :-) I actually loved it as a kid - my parents even got my brother a plunger for his birthday so he could look the part and I bought the making-of book from the school book fair - but when I think of the film now, I cringe Cringe CRINGE! In recent years, Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, and even Dennis Hopper have all admitted the film was a colossal failure and they all hated doing it.

AndrewPrice said...

Metroid as a movie? LOL!

I'd like to see them tackle another Final Fantasy. Those are really strong stories with cool characters and incredible worlds. I don't know why the one they made had to be so drab.

Tricia Helfer made BSG!

Ed said...

Is it wrong to live Doom?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Nope. I like the Rock and I like Rosamund Pike. And I admit to enjoying the film as a guilty pleasure. But it is a bad film by any objective standard.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Deathproof is a very different film. It's got a LOT of Tarantino in it and I like it better than Kill Bill. I absolutely recommend it.

(I like the Planet Terror part as schlock, which is what it was intended to be. It's nothing genius, but it is fun.)

Yeah, I would say that Edgar Wright IS understated. He may put his characters in over-the-top situations, but everything gets played in a low key. Very "staid." As an aside, I think Timmy Dalton showing up in Hot Fuzz with the stereo blaring about fire, is one of the great film entrances of all time. I love that!

I hate to admit it, but I really like Super Mario Bros. To me, that's another one of those just-pure-fun films. You can watch that film and completely lose touch with reality until the credits start. That's rare these days. Is it a good movie? Hardly. But it is excellent escapism! And that counts for a lot!

Ed said...

Andrew, I like The Rock as well, though I haven't liked most of his films. He needs a better agent. Vin Diesel too. I want to see him in more movies.

ScottDS said...

Okay, I get what you meant with understated. "Deadpan" might work, too.

With today's technology, I'd like to see them do another Mario movie where they actually visit the Mushroom Kingdom and the various environments seen in the games (sky, castles, underwater, etc.). It'd probably be CGI overload but they could do it.

I thought the first Tomb Raider movie was kinda bland. Angelina is certainly nice to look at but I literally remember nothing about the movie. I never saw the sequel.

I remember seeing the Street Fighter movie years ago... Raul Julia didn't exactly go out on a high note! (But he can chew scenery like nobody's business.)

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I feel the same way. I think both of them have been pushed into "traditional musclemen films" and both are better than that. I'd like to see them do more diverse work.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yes, let me clarify. It wasn't that the situations weren't wild, it was the way everything was played. His movies are played as if they are taking place in a library. That is part of the charm, but it also limits their appeal I think.

I miss Raul Julia. He was a great actor and, yes, what a crappy movie to go out on!

I have to imagine that anything like Mario would turn into a CGI nightmare today. But again, the first question is how you want to adapt it? Do you want to do a real story or just turn the videogame into a live action film? I think it would need a serious tongue-in-cheek element to work.

I thought Tomb Raider was dull. But then most of these have been. I suspect they suffer from both the problems of action films and the problems of games, combined.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I'll watch Doom when it's on, not gonna lie. It's bad, but it's fun. Kinda.

ellenB said...

I never saw this because nothing about the advertising spoke to me.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yep. I watch Doom when it's on as well. It is a fun film... kinda. :)

Interestingly, I can't think of any way to improve it without completely starting over.

Tennessee Jed said...

must admit, Andrew--never been a gamer (e.g. video gamer) as opposed to having played football, baseball, and golf. Taking you completely at your word, I would fall into the "You will not like this film" category. That said, I understand it's attraction to many. It can be like an addiction. Raul Julia was a great actor. I think his most enjoyable role (for me anyway) was as attorney Sandy Stearn featured in Scott Turow's legal novels "Presume Innocent" and "The Burdon of Proof."

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, I can't blame you. The advertising for this was not very good. And even beyond that, it's a hard concept to like. You really do have to be the target market.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That was the role that made me want to be a lawyer. :)

I suspect most people will fall into the "you will not like this film" category. It really is a niche film and makes no concessions to broader audiences.

That said, whether I'm in the niche or not, I'm glad they do still make the occasional niche film because that's where a lot of cool films happen. If they didn't do this from time to time, all we would get would be big studio films aimed at the widest possible market.

ScyFyterry said...

This film rocked! :D I love the band name -- "sex bob-omb." And none of them can pronounce it! I love the fight too with the girl where he won't hit her. That was hilarious!

rlaWTX said...

is this a "if you liked napoleon dynamite, you'll like this movie" movie? that's what the previews looked like. And I tried - really tried - to like ND - but oh how I didn't!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Yes. This is like Napoleon Dynamite with a bunch of superhero-like fight scenes thrown in.

(For the record, I did NOT like Napoleon Dynamite either despite several attempts to like it.)

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, That was funny and well choreographed too. I got a kick out of the band name as well and their inability to really pronounce it.

T-Rav said...

"(For the record, I did NOT like Napoleon Dynamite either despite several attempts to like it.)"

WHHHAAAAAAATTTTT?!?!?!?!?!?!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I tried. Honest. I even followed the instruction "for best results." But I just didn't like it.

ScyFyterry said...

Yeah, that was really well done and unexpected too. I think it's funny how she's trying to explain why they dated during the fight.

ScyFyterry said...

I liked ND, but I'm not fanatic or anything. I thought it was different and kind of interesting to see something done well outside of Hollywood's mainstream. I don't want to see it again, but I liked it.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, I thought the scene was fun.

I agree that ND was quirky and very original, but it just didn't work for me. Like I've said many times, I glad they make a variety of films, but that doesn't mean we have to all like the same ones. In fact, it's a better world when we have different tastes.

ScyFyterry said...

Andrew, I agree. I would rather that Hollywood make ten films I don't want to see and one I that inspires me, than 100 films I don't care about it.

ScyFyterry said...

Also, you mention above you don't know what you would do to improve Doom. What would you do to improve this one? I have some thoughts, but I'll wait to hear yours! :D

T-Rav said...

Gosh!

T-Rav said...

(That's a ND reference, by the way.)

ScyFyterry said...

T-Rav, You sound like an ND fan?! :D

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, Part of the conservative mindset is to not worry that people disagree. In other words, unlike the liberal mindset, we don't demand that everyone have identical tastes. and I like the fact that Hollywood makes niche films because it means they are sometimes offering a variety -- and many of them are indeed quite good.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm glad you clarified that, because I would not have put that together. "Gosh" doesn't quite have the instant recognizability of something like "may the force be with you."

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, In terms of improving Scott Pilgrim, I personally would like to see them dump Cera for somebody (anybody) else. Beyond that though, I don't think there's much you could change and still have the same movie. You?

LawHawkRFD said...

I'm one of those people who don't "get" video games. I find them mildly amusing for about three minutes, then completely lose interest. But I found the movie moderately amusing, as opposed to the grandkids who loved it. They all spend a lot of time gaming, so I see your point.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, What's funny to me, is how this film depended on my expectations. When I went in expecting something other than a videogame, I did not enjoy it at all. But once I re-adjusted my expectations, I enjoyed it a lot. I wonder if that same principle applies to other films?

T-Rav said...

Terry, I have to admit, I do own a "Vote for Pedro" T-shirt. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Really?

Would you be interested in writing us an article explaining what you liked about ND?

tryanmax said...

Andrew, don't laugh. There has been a movement for at least a decade to try and get Metroid on the big screen. I think, in part, that is what has prompted the game designers to really flesh out Samus Aran, their way of doing what they can. Nintendo has proven very willing in the past to give license to make movies based on their properties, so that cannot be the roadblock.

The big issue really seems to be one of scripting. I've not managed to get a hold of any to read myself, but I'm told that what has been written has been pretty awful. Fortunately, in my alternate reality, some very talented individuals jumped all over it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, A "movement"? Now I'm picturing protest rallies and fund raising drives. LOL!

I was going to say, this sounds like the same problem the Halo movie keeps having, except I would think Metroid has more story to it than Halo?

T-Rav said...

Eh, I don't know. It's actually been a long time since I watched ND. I'd have to watch it again and think about it first.

AndrewPrice said...

If you decided you want to, just let me know! :)

tryanmax said...

Anderw, I think T-Rav's explanation should be three pages, single-spaced, and due on Thursday. LOL!

Metroid does have more story than Halo, but it's mostly backstory. The forward-moving narrative is pretty scant. The other problem that Metroid faces is that it runs the risk of being a clone of Aliens. From what I understand, most script attempts try to tell the backstory.

IMO, the way to approach Samus Aran is to draw the character from the backstory, but tell an original narrative not taken from any particular game. Of course, audiences will want to see the Metroid creatures, which isn't a problem considering they keep coming back to justify more games. There are probably a lot of people who want to see the bosses from the first game, but I say screw them unless you can find an organic way to include them. That also isn't impossible, as the Metroid games have been released non-chronologically. So the movie could be told at any point within the game chronology.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, No doubt, and under the penalty of contempt! ;)

That sounds like the way you'd have to do it. In fact, that's probably how you have to approach most games (unless you have something that is a story itself).

ScyFyterry said...

tryanmax, Now come up with a way to make a film about Pong! ;)

T-Rav said...

Gentlemen, I plead not guilty by reason of insanity! Or incompetence! Or kitten-shooting, or something!

When I was in college, I knew a lot of people who were just obsessed with Halo. I didn't understand it. It was fun watching them kill stuff on-screen, but the storyline stuff was over my head. Video games have never been my thing, though--unless you count the handheld "Wheel of Fortune" game we used to own.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, LOL!

I like all kinds of games -- from simple games like Tetrus and PacMan to the more complex adventure type games. My favorite, however, are the games where you slowly build something like an empire.

The problem with modern gaming is finding good games. That's become really hard because the reviewers are easily dazzled by the effects rather than the fun of playing, and you don't know "how much game" you are getting in most cases. Some of the Final Fantasy games, for example run upwards of 70 hours of solid play, whereas I've had some other (highly rated) garbage which lasted all of three hours.

The latest thing is to get people to play against each other which reduces the need for the designers to come up with much in the way of actual play because you end up playing against people so you don't need an AI to keep the game interesting.

tryanmax said...

The Grand Theft Auto III series were really good. I never actually finished San Andreas because I got caught up in all the other stuff there was to do. I didn't make it to IV, either, but I'll probably scoop it out of a bargain bin someday.

Terry, they've apparently made a film based on Asteroids so Pong: the movie is probably being scripted somewhere. I think the best approach is to make it about a love-triangle in which one square is bouncing back and forth between two rectangles.

AndrewPrice said...

I haven't played Gran Theft Auto, though I always meant to... just never got around to buying it. And now my machine is somewhere in the basement.

I would do Pong: The Movie as an art flick with two people literally playing pingpong. Just kidding. Actually, I think pong would probably work best as the story of people playing a high stakes game of Pong and then maybe getting sucked into the game -- TronPong.

Anonymous said...

Great review, you pointed out a lot of the reasons why I liked the film and while I was watching it I never once thought 'this is a video game' but it is so obvious (once someone points it out to me).

You've reminded me how much I liked it so I'm going to watch it again and hopefully it's just as good the second time.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Scott!

The first time through, I actually expected something completely different and kept trying to jam the film into my expectations. It wasn't until I realized that it wasn't what I originally expected that I enjoyed the film.

One of the reasons for this, is that a lot of the dialog didn't make sense until I understood it was a videogame. For example, the first time I saw him come back from the dead and then rush through the guys on his way to Gabriel, it just struck me as the director not wasting time. It wasn't until I realized this was meant to be a videogame parody that it suddenly dawned on me that every gamer on the planet had done the same thing. That gave the scene a lot more meaning and made it pretty funny.

I've seen the film a third time now and enjoyed it even more. There are lots of little gaming touches throughout the film which I think take a couple viewings to get.

Anonymous said...

Your welcome Andrew, I'm coming to really enjoy the movie breakdowns here. I don't often think to deeply about movies, I just know what I like and like what I know but getting others insights is very interesting.

I'm not a huge gamer but I think that is what subliminally made the movie so enjoyable to me. I got the coins after the victory, I got the extra life but never really put it together. As I said I'll re-watch it tomorrow with these ideas in mind and hopefully enjoy it more.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the breakdowns. I generally just enjoy movies without thinking too much about them, but when something goes wrong (or very right), I like to think about why it worked or didn't work. I think it's the writer in me.

And the more of these I've done, the more I've started to see the ideas behind the films and that's really given me a world of ideas for stories to write. This really has been a fascinating exercise in that regard and I hope to get some time asap to start writing some of these things. :)

Please let me know if you notice anything new in the film!

Koshcat said...

I really liked this film but I disagree on a couple of issues. First, I think Cera was the right choice because he actually looks like a geeky young college student. The girl was way out of his league and thus he had to prove to the world why he was worthy. Any other actor would have been too pretty or too buff or just too old looking. The other is that this game/movie was platformed on earlier games than later. Games that had cartoon violence and kept score. If anything, it was very similar to Mario (without the shrooms, man). Today's games are often much more violent and usually have a final world saving goal rather than just get the girl. This movie reminded me a lot of Better Off Dead. Funny without being filled with gross sex gags (American Pie, I'm looking your way).

ND is an endearing film that may speak more to those of us who grew up in similar towns. I can relate many of the characters to people I knew growing up.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, We can disagree on Cera, no problem. But I personally think he has zero screen presence and I can't see any girl falling for him because his character is so depressing and useless. A young Lane Meyer would have been a better choice. And it isn't even looks which is the problem in my book, it's attitude. I found him unrepentantly unpleasant and so unlikeable that if this had been one of those movies with the over-the-top jocks beating up nerds, I would have been with the jocks this time.

In terms of games, it reminded me a lot of the RPGs you've seen over the past 5-10 years with the boss battles, the flaming swords, each character having their own unique fighting style.

Better Off Dead is my favorite teen/1980s film and you are right, it's got no gross jokes in it. Thought it does have one funny sort of sex-gag: "He keeps putting his testicles all over me." "You mean tentacles?" LOL!

Post a Comment