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Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: Movie Review

 (Warning: some spoilers) When they decided to turn this Canadian comic into a movie, I’m not sure they were aware of what a cult smash hit this would be. Topping the charts for Blu-rays on the first day it was released on home video, it’s also been on several top ten lists. It appeals to a younger generation and nerds everywhere with its pop culture references and video game atmosphere. Even the basic premise sounds like it was pulled from a classic arcade game: Scott Pilgrim must defeat love interest Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes to win her heart.

Awkward Scott Pilgrim’s (Michael Cera) love life is anything but ordinary. Ramona Flowers is Scott’s dream girl (literally), and he has to choose between her and his new high school girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Ramona is a pink-haired, too-cool badass with a mysterious past, and Knives is a sweet girl who all his friends say is too young for him. After Scott and Ramona get involved, Scott’s band Sex Bob-omb enters into a Battle of the Bands, which turns out to be a real battle after Ramona’s first evil ex shows up. The rest of the movie involves Scott’s battles of all 7 evil exes using all sorts of cool methods, from a bass guitar to some sweet ninja moves. When the past comes back to bite you, the characters in this movie bite back.

The musical qualities of the movie were equally as important as the plot and visuals. The soundtrack to the movie is epic, including a song about a garbage truck. Some of the featured artists with originals and covers from the movie include Beck and Metric (bands also featured on Rock Band 3). There’s also plenty of 8-bit inspired music as well, such as the Zelda fairy fountain theme. What’s more impressive is the actors actually learned how to play their instruments and are featured on the soundtrack.

Some of the original comic style has been preserved in the movie: an introduction to Scott’s apartment includes labels on the items in it, straight from a comic panel, and some of Ramona’s flashbacks are cartoon/comic style. Video game references abound in this movie as well; enemies explode into coins and give Scott points when defeated, for example. Scott and Knives play a rhythm/martial arts arcade game called Ninja Ninja Revolution, and Scott’s pickup line for Ramona is a story about the origins of Pac-Man. The band is named for the Mario Bros. enemy. There are tons more; for a list of every video game reference in the movie click here: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality/2010/08/every_video_game_reference_in.php

The movie is a quirky blend of fantasy, drama, comedy, and romance with great characters. Scott has a lot of great one-liners, and the other characters in the movie are all funny in their own way, from Scott’s gay roommate and rock star ex-girlfriend to his pushy sister and angry drummer. These characters are definitely not cookie cutter Hollywood cutouts.

I’ve seen this movie three times and everyone I’ve recommended it to has really enjoyed it. So if you feel nostalgic for the arcade days or you’re in the mood for a unique comedy, pick up a copy today and prepare for a fun action-adventure game on your TV screen. Game Start!

Movie Review- Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Movie poster

 I was skeptical when I saw this movie poster in theaters. It couldn’t be as good as the game; the unique music, combat, environment, and storyline would never be translated well. But despite my initial negativity and reluctance to get my hopes up about yet another video game remake, I was pleasantly surprised by the end product.

To prepare for the movie release, I replayed the The Sands of Time for Gamecube. The 2003 3rd-person adventure game by Ubisoft was created to “breathe new life” into the series and the action/adventure genre. It won IGN’s PS2 game of the Year award, and in general was highly praised for its beautiful graphics, unique acrobatic platforming, intuitive combat controls, storyline and characters, and the fun time powers of the Dagger of Time. You can also see its influence in more recent games like Assassin’s Creed. (Source: Wikipedia)

Video game cover

So that’s what Disney and Director Mike Newell of the 2010 movie had to work with. And in my opinion what they did with it was a complete success. They changed the plot a bit; they gave the Prince a name (Dastan) and turned him into an orphan who is adopted into the royal family. They also added more characters and eliminated the opening of the Hourglass in favor of better dialogue and deeper development of characters and thematic elements. Lack of sand zombies was my major complaint, but I think it was a bold move that paid off in better dialogue and more engaging characters that were still familiar from the game.

Gorgeous environments.

Despite the lack of the traditional monsters, there is still plenty of combat. The Prince’s acrobatics are gravity-defying, and look like they were pulled straight from the newer Prince of Persia games, including the classic wall runs and jumps. The environments are very impressive and bring you back to the game as well. The music fit the movie but was nothing special compared to the game’s unique soundtrack.

Prince Dastan and Princess Tamina.

Overall it’s a great movie in its own right, with an interesting plot, engaging characters, and plenty of action. The secret to this movie’s success was that its creators remained true to the game and genre, taking the good elements and revamping some of the other stuff. They kept the same kind of music, were surprisingly accurate in recreating the Prince’s stunts, and actually improved the dynamic between the two main characters. Replaying the game reminded me how terrible the dialogue could be sometimes, but the movie upgraded the snarky, biting comments between the Prince and Princess.

Finally, it seems the curse of video game-based movies has been lifted! Silent Hill was the first video game-based movie that didn’t absolutely bomb (though this is a debatable point); one that many fans actually seemed to like, and now Prince of Persia has come along as the second. Only time will tell if other directors will follow this promising start to elevate this previously horrifying genre. So go check out this awesome retelling of Sands of Time and prepare to be amazed!

Movie posters featuring our main characters.

For more information:

Synopsis on IMDB

Video Games Blogger Post: Sequels?