Movies

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Scott Pilgrim Movie Trailer

Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Versus The World.

The trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has arrived, full of Michael Cera and Internet analysis and super-analysis. Join us, won't you? Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Pictures

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the trailer for Scott Pilgrim Versus The World,
A film based on
Bryan Lee O'Malley's series
Of graphic novels which,
Not for nothing, are
Deeply deeply
Groovy.

II
Okay, sorry, that was pretentious. Even for me. Settling down now.

III
Last week's release of the trailer for the long-awaited film by Edgar (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) Wright, which stars Michael (Various Iterations of George Michael Bluth) Cera, was greeted with excitement that manifested in a host of ways.

IV
Here's one way: "Woo! Looky!" (Note: This way was my way.)

V
Here's another: "Groan. Another comic book movie? I hope this one kills this stupid trend forever."

(Note: This view, espoused by Ray DeRousse over at Obsessed With Film, we shall call the Let's Not Bother to Fill Up the Bathtub and Just Go Ahead and Toss Out the Baby Now Thesis.

See also: The Get Off My Lawn You Punk Kids! Dictum; The No Dessert for Me, Thank You VERY Much Indeed! Gambit, and the Path of I am Annoyed by Puppies.)

The other VIII ways, and a response to that "Mahh! Comic Book Movies BAD!" argument, after the jump.

VI
Synergistic: The Pilgrim books sure do seem like a excellent fit for Edgar Wright, whose work, like O'Malley's, lovingly embraces genre conventions even as it tweaks them.

The line between Spaced, the 1999-2001 UK sitcom Wright directed and co-created, and the Pilgrim series is an easy one to draw. Spaced told its tale of star-crossed lovers through a series of action-movie camera setups, while Scott Pilgrim is a romance shot through a filter of videogames and indie music. It's not a stretch to see Tim - the Spaced character played by Simon Pegg - as a sort of ur-Scott.

VII
Analytical: Over at Comics Alliance, redoubtable blogger Laura Hudson helpfully mapped the shots in the trailer to the panels in the comics from which they came.

It's fun to see, but I admit to experiencing a cold chill as I remembered how closely, nay, slavishly the Watchmen movie used the book as its storyboard, which was one big reason the experience of actually watching the damn thing felt so hidebound, claustrophobic and ultimately, superfluous.

Of course, there's zero chance that Scott Pilgrim Versus The World will possess the kind of po-faced self-seriousness that weighed down Watchmen. Oh, which reminds me:

VIII
Combative: Can we just talk about that Obsessed With Film article some more? In the course of saying several things I really can't get behind ("The best superheroes are rarely funny, meta-referencing, or slyly winking from within the pages of the story.") DeRousse actually contends that one of the things the 2003 Daredevil film did right was take itself seriously.

This is very much like saying that one of the things The Bounty Hunter did right was have Gerard Butler throw Jennifer Aniston around like a sack of unsettlingly orange potatoes, because: No.

Just really no.

The truth is the opposite of what you are saying.

Let's review: Ben Affleck in a red pleather jumpsuit is silly. When Ben Affleck in a red pleather jumpsuit is directed to glower down at the streets of Hell's Kitchen with the expression of a man who's just polished off a bowl of tainted shrimp, it's sillier. Add portentious whispered dialogue ("I prowl the rooftops and alleyways at night, watching from the darkness. Forever in darkness. A guardian devil.") and try to keep your eyes from rolling. Just try.

To be sure, Christopher Nolan's Batman movies share many of these elements and those films do work better (but not perfectly: Christian Bale's Batman voice aims for badass, but achieves only roid-rage Tom Waits.)

This desire to squelch the more whimsical/goofy elements of the superhero genre in the hope of being taken "seriously" has been a dismaying part of comics, and comics films, for as long as I've been reading and watching them.

But one of the best things about the Scott Pilgrim books is their delight, their absolute revelry, in the pure, unselfconscious goofiness of comics and video games. Its completely unabashed, that delight, which is what makes it so refreshing in a comic book culture that's way too eager to go around abashing itself.

IX
Analytical, Again: MTV's Splash Page blog picked its five favorite moments from the trailer.

X
Super-Mega-Hyperanalytical: Linda linked to this on Monday, but this well-done video exegesis unpacks the trailer's many clues in a way that'll spoil newbies rotten, but that readers of the book will especially enjoy.

XI
Musical: In the books, Scott plays guitar, semi-demi-competently, in a band called Sex Bob-omb - the name's one of several (indie music reference) + (video game reference) portmanteaux found throughout the books.

For the film, Sex Bob-Omb's music is being written by Beck. If you know the books, and you know Beck, this just makes a sort of grand, cosmic sense.

XII
Game Theory: Given that video games are so central to the books' structure and atmosphere, the upcoming release of Scott Pilgrim: The Video Game should surprise precisely no one.

What is a pleasant surprise, however, that the game will look and sound so authentically old school.

XIII
And Finally, Arrested Development Fanboy: "It's Egg! I mean Ann." (Note: Right around the 48-second mark.)

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