Though Scott Pilgrim vs The World was a beloved film by many, it is one which had its reputation tarnished by being one of the biggest bombs in a particularly bomb-filled period for distributor Universal. The passage of time will see this wear away though and looking back on it, it’s pretty insane that this even got made in the first place. An action comedy filled with anime, video game, music and film references almost to the point of bursting, combined with the very singular eye of Edgar Wright, this is a true Frankenstein’s monster of a movie which somehow works electrifyingly well. It comed off like a highly caffeinated blast which will likely be quoted by future filmmakers and critics as “the film that made me decide what I want to do with the rest of my life”.
That’s the thing about Scott Pilgrim. It’s so full of love for its characters and a sense of joy for the whole process of creating imagery and audio for the big screen that though the film has its slight issues, the general goodwill created by everything on screen is enough to turn it into a film dearly loved by many, and rather obviously including myself.
The cast are varied and well-played, the music rocks and the action is genuinely thrilling. There’s not a lot to hate about the film and it will remain an of-its-time off-beat gem that will be referenced and watched for years to come.
While Luc Besson has latterly decided to write low to mid-budget action films and take the profits from them, the likes of From Paris With Love, the Taken films and Columbiana among them, in the 1990s, he was being heralded as a bit of a visionary and with good reason. While Leon is generally held up as basically being his best film, there is a love for The Fifth Element which seems to grow over the years. It’s a melding of European style and comedy, with the high-budget gloss and excess of a Hollywood production; it’s that rarest of things – a European action blockbuster.
Bruce Willis is exceptionally well cast as a butch, gruff and tired taxi driver who finds a new leash on life when Milla Jovovich’s mysterious Lee-Lo comes literally crashing into his life, and the two soon find themselves on a mission to save the world with Gary Oldman’s bizarrely hairstyled bad guy chasing after them. It all sounds fairly rote but this is where Besson really comes into his own, with exceptional world building, exemplary technical contributions with visual effects which hold up and a wonderful score along with a sense of humour which – Chris Tucker aside – never pushed through the quirk boundary into being all that annoying.
It’s a film which does seem to divide people, and the story itself isn’t all that engaging, but with characters and a vitality to proceedings which feel pretty unique for the material, it’s a real winner.
Fitting in pretty damn nicely with Scott Pilgrim (the two would make a fun double bill) is this documentary about the sheer effort and hardships which come from independently making a game. Without the hive mind nature of EA or Activision, these people take it upon themselves to not only come up with the idea for the games but to also program themselves. Following development of titles such as Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid, it’s not the most cinematic doc ever made but it makes up for this in heart.
Focusing mainly on the making of SMB and Fez, we have two pretty opposing stories. One follows a pair of guys who are pretty likable, nerdy but knowing they are and not flaunting it, and going about their business just trying to get their work done, and hopefully reaping rewards. The other story follows a man who made a big splash with a proof of concept demo but then finds making the game to be an absolute grind, something that tests his sanity. And in all fairness this also tests our sympathies for him; some of the things being said about the process and those around him maybe calling him into question at times.
This is a very human tale about people who have spirit and want to succeed personally, perhaps more so than financially, and is a bit of a joy overall.