Thursday, 19 August 2010

Style Over Substance?

Just the other night I got the chance to see SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD and had a thoroughly good time thank you very much. It is very funny, nicely played, has lots of visual gags and tons of cinematic creativity.

What it doesn't do is make any sense. This is a film where the story isn't the thing. To keep dating the girl of his dreams Scott Pilgrim needs to defeat her seven evil exes. Why? Because it's a fun idea. This is not reality. This couldn't possibly happen. This isn't meant to be taken seriously. It's a fun ride rather than a true film.

Kids today spend more time on computer games than going to the pictures and they are now the mass entertainment market of choice. That SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD therefore does everything it can to look like a video game shouldn't come as a shock. Defeated enemies scatter coins like Sonic scatters rings, there are popup screens and scores and even an extra life that comes in handy towards the end. There are even magic doors.

OK, so films don't have to tell a 'real' story to be great and they don't have to make any sense either (anyone who's seen LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD will attest to that), but is this a trend? AVATAR looked like a videogame and was certainly more interested in putting pretty pictures on the screen than having a plot or acting and stuff. TRANSFORMERS 2 had big robots hitting other big robots else. SPEED RACER was nothing but flashy visuals. CLASH OF THE TITANS was an empty CGI-fuelled experience.

Fortunately, I don't think this trend is going to go damage cinema too much. There have always been films that look better than the content they are filled with. Right now, though, there are films that are as good in terms of plot and character as they are in visual quality. Think back to last year's MOON, which was all about plot and character. This year's biggest hit has been INCEPTION which has a startlingly good plot for such a huge blockbuster and the animated likes of TOY STORY 3 and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON have shown that even a kids' movie can max out on plot and contain good characters. KICK ASS shows that a plot can still be good whilst being matched to a great visual sense.

So let's just sit back and enjoy the hybrid experience that is SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD (because it is a really good night out) and not worry about the future of science fiction in the cinema. There will always be the empty eye-candy, but the good plot and likeable character is making a comeback.

Inception [Blu-ray]
How to Train Your Dragon (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Dragon Double Pack) [Blu-ray]
Toy Story 3 [Blu-ray]

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