We're a geek culture podcast and blog covering video games, music, food and more. We are the kinds of people who evangelize whatever we are into - it could be anything - but it's usually pretty geeky. We're casual, conversational, NSFW and hopefully interesting. We hope you enjoy it.
Learn some amazing new facts about earwax on this week's podcast! Join me, Jinny, Ross and Ryan for an intense discussion about Pax Prime 2010 and earwax buildup. Oh, sure we talk about other things like the new Xbox Live Gold membership rate hike, and what kind of tech we brought with us on our most recent camping trip, but you really want to stick around for fascinating insights on earwax consistency between the races. It's truly enlightening.
This week we have me, a drugged-up Jinny, Ross and Ryan discussing PAX, the surprise Deathspank sequel, Mass Effect's new DLC, more Scott Pilgrim stuff, first-timer games, Rock Band 3 tracklist and more.
This week we've got Jinny, Ross and Ryan joining me in a discussion of the new Scott Pilgrim film. We manage to avoid spoilers, I think! We also discuss the Scott Pilgrim game, the announcement of Bioshock: Inifinite, Fallout: New Vegas voice actors, more Borderlands DLC and a few other video game related tidbits. We've even got a track from the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack at the end of the show for you to check out. It's a pretty great soundtrack overall. And don't forget to rsvp for the Weekly Geek community meetup if you're coming to PAX!
Last night, Jinny and I were able to check out an early screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which if you pay attention to the podcast at all, you'd know we've been obsessing over for the last year or so. No worries if you haven't seen it yet, I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Hype
It took me a little while to get into the Scott Pilgrim books. I was aware of them, but was turned off by the manga style. Or what I thought was manga style. Eventually my friend Wynn wore me down by explaining that I was Scott Pilgrim. I read the first book and was hooked not only by the video game and music references, but by the interactions between the characters. Brian Lee O'Malley was able to capture how people really talk to each other, and I always appreciate that when it comes to comic books. I enjoyed the world he created, full of magical realism and intense action sequences. It was a world I felt instantly familiar with.
When I heard there was going to be a movie made, I was cautiously optimistic. The cast looked decent (Kieran Culkin as Wallace felt especially apt, Jason Schwartzman as Gideon was spot-on and I have no hate for Michael Cera like most people seem to) and Edgar Wright is a director I trust. More news came out about the movie, including artists attached to the soundtrack. O'Malley listened to a lot of indie rock while creating the books and peppered references to music all throughout, so it made sense that people like Bec, Broken Social Scene and Nigel Godrich were involved.
The final book of the series was released and kind of felt lackluster to me. It felt like O'Malley was tired of the franchise and just wanted it to end, and while I was relatively satisfied it kind of felt hollow.
It's the hype that kills things. It's expectation that will lead to your disappointment in things 90% of the time. That's the problem with geek culture today, we expect everything to be mindblowingly awesome. Which is sometimes ok! You should expect quality from the things you consume, but you should also set your expectations. We have this incredibly robust vetting process for determining what deserves our attention, and hype is a big part of that. But I think the hype surrounding the Scott Pilgrim movie left me a little flat.
Here's the thing: no movie based on a book will ever, ever live up to your expectations. If you're an avid book reader (comic books and otherwise) you know that imagination is an incredibly important part of the reading process. We fill in the blanks between panels (for more on this specific topic, I recommend reading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics) and have our own ideas of inflection and character voices cemented in our heads. No movie can ever expect to live up to the book you've personalized in your own brain. There are always going to be parts left out, or jokes that you feel should have been done better or emphasized differently. The best a movie based on a book can do is augment your initial book experience in a sensory fashion.
If I were to critique the movie on the merits of living up to the book, I'd say they did a great job. It was a fantastic adaptation. Was it a good movie? Sure. Was it the best movie of all time? Definitely no.
Scott Pilgrim vs. Comedic Timing
One of the main issues I had with the film was the pacing. Edgar Wright did a bangup job on the action sequences, making them kinetic, frantic, and incredibly similar to the atmosphere the comic books created. The fight scenes were a visual treat, like nothing I've ever seen before. The other parts of the film that used comic tropes such as onomatopoeia felt forced. Like they had to incorporate this stuff because, well, it's a comic book movie.
Punchlines and jokes in comic books are processed differently than jokes in movies, as well. Scott Pilgrim the movie was able to replicate a few of the better visual gags, as well as some of the text-based gags (such as the little labels that appear next to characters giving their names, ages and a short sample of their personality) but many of the subtler jokes get bowled over. When you're reading a comic book and you get to a punchline or a visual gag, you're able to soak in the frame. You can sit there and contemplate the joke for an eternity if you'd like. The pacing of the book sets these kinds of jokes up very very well. There is no concept of "blink and you'll miss it" in comics. In the movie, these jokes are not only delivered flatly, they're bowled over by the transition to the next scene. There's literally no way for these jokes to work properly on screen. That said, it was a valiant effort.
The comedic timing of these jokes was off, as well. The comic uses a lot of hyperbolic dialog and reactions to illustrate emotion in an exaggerated fashion. You don't really need to do this in a movie, because you're able to convey emotion a little easier. Scott Pilgrim the movie keeps these hyperbolic reactions, which feels like overacting to me. The entire time I felt like I was watching a high school stage performance of Scott Pilgrim. That's not to say the acting was bad, but the dialog felt stifled at times, and there were strange silent moments that felt forced.
Scott Pilgrim vs. Nostalgia
This is the first real movie meant for people of our generation. We get the references, and they never play coy with them. The references are all right there, down to literally using music and sound effects from Zelda games. It is intimately familiar, and for that it is unique. But for something so lovingly crafted, I felt like I needed more meaning. More emotion. The books were full of emotion. I genuinely related to Scott and felt for him as he pined for Ramona. There was very little of that chemistry in the movie. It was busy being flashy, which is understandable I suppose. The action scenes were set up wonderfully and really felt like a video game. But for all the flash, I miss the emotion.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Comic Book Ending
The movie was written and filmed before the last book in the series came out. O'Malley was a consultant for the movie and did provide them with some direction on how the story wraps up, but the ending to the movie is completely different than the books. Which was better? It's hard to say. I can honestly say that I didn't feel enthusiastic about either ending. It ended. I am not sure how it could have ended better. The movie also changed a major reveal in the last book which I believe really could have been incorporated, and the movie would have been better for it.
Would I see it again? Probably. Would I recommend it to friends? Not as enthusiastically as I hoped to be able to recommend it. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a completely decent movie with some incredible visuals. As a companion to the book series, it does it justice. As a movie on it's own? It's a strange thing indeed.
Dudes! It's almost time for PAX Prime again (what!) and that means we're having a Weekly Geek community meetup that you should totally attend. Last year was pretty big and we kind of took over the bottom half of Six Arms, so this year the plan is to take over the whole upper section of Six Arms. Join us at this awesome McMenamins pub, just a short walk up the hill from the convention center for beers and burgers and various good times. Yes, this is a 21+ event which means that some of you will have to stand outside in the cold, shivering for our amusement (both with feebleness and also because it's been incredibly cold and lame in Seattle this summer.)
Weekly Geek Community Meetup September 3rd - 6PM to 8PM
300 East Pike Street
It's a full house this week with Qais, Jinny, Ryan, Ross and I as we discuss Starcraft II. Ok, we talk about a few other things but mainly it's Starcraft II and the iPhone jailbreak news. But mainly Starcraft II. We also talk about Limbo and Deathspank. But mainly Starcraft II. Blerf.
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