â€œScott Pilgrim vs. the Worldâ€ opened this week. The film lives up to its promotional efforts (they called it â€˜epic’) and shows the true potential of lighthearted comic book movies. While â€œPilgrimâ€ shares many successful stylistic advances and achievements with predecessor â€œKick-Ass,â€ it pulled off the comic-to-movie transition with more style.
I might have enjoyed â€œKick-Assâ€ more had it been advertised differently. In the movie trailer seen on the film’s website, superhero Kick-Ass has a very altruistic motiveâ€”inspired by comic books, he wishes to help people by fighting crime. While the trailer highlights some of the crucial action scenes in the movie, it also includes a fair amount of humor and good-natured fun. That said, the film turned out to be much darker in nature than initially advertised. I felt duped by the trailer and because of it, the movie did not live up to my expectations.
When I went to see â€œScott Pilgrim vs. the World,â€ I had the same fear. The trailer looked awesome, but I was worried that a storyline tackling centrally-serious subjects such as love and self-confidence might also come off as grim. It didn’t. Instead, â€œPilgrimâ€ retained an innocent charm while still searching for truth in the meaning of life in a â€œJunoâ€ meets â€œNapoleon Dynamiteâ€ setting. While characters utilized modern technology such as cell phones, the overall vintage atmosphere allowed me to enjoy the movie and its old school video game references.
Where â€œKick-Assâ€ used action footage filming techniques seen in more mainstream comic book movies like â€œIron Man 2,â€ â€œPilgrimâ€ actually incorporates vintage video gaming perspectives to supplement more typical action shots. â€œPilgrimâ€ also contains copious graphics, video games and genre referencesâ€”without using them too often. A supporting character known as Knives actually fits a manga or anime stereotypeâ€”but instead of making her an obsessed anime fan, she has legitimate logical and psychological reasons for wearing a school uniform and changing her appearance.
Recalling the days of â€œDick Tracyâ€ and â€œLois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman,â€ I’m glad to see that the incorporation of comic book style evolves in such interesting ways. While I prefer the â€œScott Pilgrim vs. the Worldâ€ style to that of â€œKick-Assâ€ and the more mainstream movies like â€œSpider-Man,â€ each method has earned a permanent place among movie fans as geek culture becomes more mainstream itself. Each movie-goer has a preference in style and I definitely respect each effort.
I admit to worrying about what happens to the future of comic book adaptations. As a fan of Stan Lee, I realize that the greats who created and influenced comics are rapidly aging. It’s refreshing to see comic book creators, screenwriters and film directors provide fresh but respectful outlooks to comic-style movies and epic adaptations.