Monday, September 20, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

"Time to break out the L word."

This movie was made for the likes of me, for the geeks. I'm certain there is something enjoyable here for the regular folks too, but as a geek, I was in my element watching Scott Pilgrim. The movie crams in so many references to geek culture and that classic temple of the 80's and 90's - the Arcade! Critics seemed quite receptive to it as well earning it an average of 81% on RT.

Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, a typical nerd/geek stumbling through life while living with his gay room mate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin). That is until he meets Ramona Flowers (the lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and falls hopelessly in love with her. Turns out she's not oppposed to the idea of hooking up with Scott, but there is a slight complication in that, before they can live happily ever after, Scott must defeat Ramona's 7 evil ex's. Wow, compared with the amount of exposition I had to cover with The Expendables, that plot summary was a breeze by comparison. 

Loved pretty much every casting choice in the movie. Oddly I didn't get pissed off with Michael Cera this time - something which usually happens when I watch his characters (especially in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, but I have my own reasons for being antagonistic towards that movie) Kieran Culkin stole every scene he was in, ranging from dry humor to flat out slap stick. I'm pretty much always happy to see Mary Elizabeth Winstead so it's no surprise that was somewhat captivated by her screen presence. Without doubt though there is one actor in this movie that shamelessly outshines everyone. I am of course talking about Thomas Jane, who has an all to brief, but none the less EPIC cameo as a member of the vegan police. Trust me it's good. The one casting choice I question is that of Anna Kendrick as Scott's sister. She just can't pull off 'teenager' I'm afraid. Sorry Anna, loved your part in Up in the Air, but this one just wasn't right for you.

If you've even glanced at a trailer you know that the kicker for this movie is the visuals. Let me tell you right now, that the best parts are in fact not in the trailer. Always a refreshing change when the studio holds some secrets back. There are some very impressive visuals on display in this movie, and they always integrate thoughtfully with the actors performance and the overall story being told in the scene. There's no Michael Bay "explosions for explosions sake" on display here, everything has a purpose. I was particularly impressed when I saw what a small budget the movie had to work with, this movie didn't have $100 million worth of CG at it's disposal and as such I think the overall achievement is even greater. In particular watch out for the battle of the bands sequence with the giant CG monster battle, very cool.

Overall I again had a great time at the movies. The story was fun without being sappy or disappointing, as romances can so very often be. Speaking of disappointing romances if Castle and Beckett dance around each other for as long as Booth and Bones have... there will be hell to pay I tell you. Anyway Scott Pilgrim is very entertaining movie more than worth the price of admission. Remember to catch it on DVD too.

Final verdict:

The Expendables

"Just got my ass kicked!"

The Expendables is an astounding success in that it transcends the boundaries of a mere action movie and to become what I can only describe as "a glorious ballet of death!" The cast is absolutely perfect for this one and the action is sufficiently hammy to pay homage to the greatest of the 80's action flicks. Sure it only has a 40% over on RT, but did you really think this was going to win an Oscar?

The plot involves a group of hired guns (The Expendables) led by the fearless Barney Ross (Stallone). We're introduced to the group mid mission as they attempt to rescue some innocents from what appears to be Somali pirates. We immediately realize these guys know their shit and that one of team named Gunner Jensen (Lundgren) has become a liability. Fast forward, back in the U.S. the team enjoys some down time, Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) goes to visit his girlfriend (Charisma Carpenter) who moved on while he was out the country and is now living with a comically villainous boyfriend. Meanwhile, Ross goes to set up another job which apparently means working for the CIA. Cue a meeting with Bruce Willis as the shady CIA contact and the old 80's rival Schwarzenegger who, unsurprisingly, portrays a rival mercenary. After taking the job, Ross and Christmas check out a fairly nondescript island where their job is to knock off the evil dictator and free up the island for the CIA to swoop in and take control. Needless to say it all goes pear-shaped and the team have to basically demolish the place before the credits roll. 

Boy, having written that it looks a lot more complicated than it actually is. This is an homage to the classic 80's action flick, light on plot, big on action and one liners.

Stallone was actually looking pretty good in this one, though apparently he actually suffered a broken neck during one of the stunts on set. Luckily, after some emergency surgery, he's fine and still walking around. Statham was pretty much just Statham, he does tend to play the same character over and over. Really though, does anybody care, at least he's always fun to watch, and the guy knows how to through a punch. Jet Li and Terry Crew added some nice comic banter to the team and Mickey Rourke was without doubt the 'heart'. It's not altogether unsurprising that one of the few tender moments in the movie was delivered by Rourke in a touching monologue. Hats off to Dolph Lundgren and Ray Park who were also on top form in the stunts department. There is a scene in this movie where Lundgren stomps on a guys face while driving a car in a high speed pursuit and avoiding incoming fire - that is the tone of this movie, lap it up folks. One final shout out to Eric Robers who once again is portrays the ultimate bastard, and does it with style - nice work Eric, nice work indeed.

Personally I had a blast watching this one. From start to finish the pacing was perfect, not once did I feel the need to glance at my watch. Granted the plot is pretty thin, but you really ought to know what you're getting into here. It doesn't claim to be a serious movie, and it delivers exactly what it set out to - that being a hell of a good time. If you're looking for something a little more cerebral, this aint it!

Overall I know I'll be getting this on DVD as soon as it's released, terrific action flick and if I'm brutally honest, probably better than both The A Team and The Losers combined.

Final verdict: