I was excited about Toy Story 3. I haemorrhaged patience waiting for Inception. But from the moment I saw the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World teaser, I was harnessing 1.21 gigawatts of energy to my Ford Fiesta to thrust it forwards in time to the point where I could have my senses frottled to screaming point by Edgar Wright's new amazagasm.
And that ludicrously high expectation is the problem. Because despite Scott Pilgrim vs. The World being a gloriously enjoyable way to spend 112 mind-smacking minutes, and probably my third-favourite film this year, I can't help but feel a niggling twinge of disappointment.
It's just one aspect of the film that stands at the door of my mind like a bouncer, telling all the great bits that their names aren't down and they're not coming in, but I'll ignore it for now to focus on what does make this film coruscating, demented fun.
It's fair to say that nobody's ever made a film that looks like this, and nobody else will. From the opening tweaked Universal fanfare and logo to the final pixellated smackdown, this movie isn't just eye-popping - it'll magnificently abuse your corneas, your retinas and your maculas and papillas to boot.
The fight scenes are incredible. It's rare these days to see a properly arranged, shot and edited fight scene in a movie, and here they come by the bucketload and in a variety of shifting aspect ratios. It doesn't matter that they come out of nowhere: Edgar Wright has described his film as like a musical where the characters break into rumbles instead of rhumbas; less musical, more bruisical.
While most of the cast are great (I still haven't come to terms with Michael Cera's whiny manchild), the supporting cast deserve an Oscar each. Kieran Culkin is deliciously laconic, Ellen Wong is appropriately annoying and Allison Pill is a freckly ginger countess of cool. And the soundtrack is all killer, no filler. Any film that uses Metric to portray the zenith of indie magnifence is fine by me.
Metric - Black Sheep
But the one thing that should hold all of this mayhem together, the crucial element needed to justify all the flaming-sword-swinging and wire-fu wows, is the one thing that's missing, and that's the heart. Above all else, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a love story, but I just didn't believe it. I completely identified with Scott's infatuation with Ramona, but I couldn't accept their relationship as the emotional core of the story.
For a start she's a complete pushover, agreeing to date him almost immediately. Identification goes out of the window like Scott evading Knives Chau. Then she spends the rest of the film standing moodily on the sidelines with her hands in her pockets, aloof and disinterested in Scott's plight at the hands of any of her evil exes. Why would you fight so hard for someone like that? By the end of the film I wasn't even sure whether Scott wanted to be with Ramona or not, and that seems like a bad place for a supposedly emotionally invested viewer to be.
There are other, minor flaws, but no more serious than any other good movie - which Scott Pilgrim vs. The World absolutely is. It's just that there's no way it could have met my expectations: when I wanted to love it like Scott loves Ramona, I only liked it like Ramona likes Scott.
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