edgar wright vs. the world...

Posted by Brad Schelden, November 12, 2010 02:05pm | Post a Comment
I have had a long love affair with zombies. Since I can remember I have always been obsessed with them. There is just something about the undead! I have been a long time horror fan and zombie movies have always been my favorite within that genre. They are a bit scary but I always thought they were a bit hilarious as well. The original Dawn of the Dead by George Romero was released in 1978. The movie is nothing short of brilliant. It combines my two favorite malls and zombies! It remains my favorite of all time. There were many great zombie movies throughout the 70s and 80s but I had pretty much given up on the zombie movie in recent years... That is, until Edgar Wright came around and released the brilliant Shaun of the Dead in 2004! This was my first introduction to Edgar Wright but he had already created the amazing British TV series Spaced. I highly recommend that you check out this DVD -- it is really some amazing stuff -- but Shaun of the Dead is really Edgar's masterpiece. I still don't think I have met anyone who doesn't love this movie. I just don't know how you can't. Comedy zombie films don't always work but Edgar Wright just got it perfect. I really can't ever get enough of this movie and I usually laugh throughout the whole thing! The movie stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This was also my first introduction to them as well. Edgar's take on the buddy cop film came out a couple of years later in 2007. Hot Fuzz was highly anticipated for me. I couldn't wait to see what Edgar would come up with next. It was amazing, just as I had hoped. You can read my review of the Hot Fuzz DVD from a couple of years ago right here.

Both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are also now available on Blu-ray. I am huge fan of the director's and actors' commentaries. It was one of my favorite things about DVDs when they first started adding them to the releases, although some are, of course, better than others. Shaun of the Dead has an amazing commentary from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg together. I could really listen to this without even watching the movie! You will learn a lot about this movie but mostly you'll just laugh along with them as they laugh at each other. The Hot Fuzz ultimate edition Blu-ray actually comes with 5 commentaries! Both these movies are two of my favorites of the decade. I just can't express my love of Edgar Wright enough! I love horror movies and the buddy cop action movies of the 80s and Edgar Wright somehow managed to reinvent both of these genres and make them his own. He ended up creating two of the most hilarious dark sort of comedies of the decade. I really was not sure what Edgar could have done next to impress me. I was waiting in anticipation for his next move for what seemed like forever...

Until, of course, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. This movie is Edgar Wright's take on the super hero / comic book / video game / fantasy film. It is a movie about a nerdy guy who must destroy his new girlfriend's seven evil exes. The movie is cast perfectly. It stars Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the happy couple. The evil exes are played by Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzmen, Mae Whitman, Brandon Routh, Satya Bhabha, and Keita & Shota Saito. Kieran Culkin plays Scott's cool gay roommate Wallace. Anna Kendrick is Scott's sister. Johnny Simmons plays his band mate, Young Neil, and Mark Webber plays his other bandmate, Stephen Stills. Finally, the brilliant Aubrey Plaza plays Julie Powers, Stephen Stills' ex-girlfriend. I fell in love with this movie right away. There had been attempts at video game type movies before but nothing like this. The movie is full of pop culture and video game references. It also has one of the best portrayals of a gay character that I have ever seen. Kieran's version of Wallace is probably one of the most normal characters in the movie. The gay character doesn't always have to be the silly or tragic character in the film! They can also be the sort of normal, down to earth character as well.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World is based on the comic book of the same name. The movie is a super fun journey to watch. I am not really sure how you can't like this movie, either. It has already become a sort of cult classic -- Edgar already has a rabid fanbase and this movie quickly developed a devoted fanbase as well.

We had the pleasure of doing an instore with Edgar Wright and the cast of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World at Amoeba Hollywood last night!They were signing copies of the recently released DVD and Blu-ray. I couldn't imagine a better group of people. This is now officially my new favorite instore of all time! They were like a big, happy extended family. We had 12 actors at the signing! Edgar Wright was joined by the creator of the comic, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Joining both of them were 10 members of the cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzmen, Brandon Routh, Satya Bhabha, Johnny Simmons & Mark Webber. Michael Cera is, of course, Michael Cera! Everyone knows Jason Schwartzmen from Rushmore and Brandon Routh from Superman Returns. You might remember the beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Final Destination 3. Anna Kendrick is, of course, from the Twilight movies and Up in the Air. My favorites of the group were Mae Whitman and Aubrey Plaza. Both Michael Cera and Mae Whitman were in the brilliant Arrested Development. Michael Cera played Jason Bateman's son and Mae Whitman played Michael's girlfriend. Aubrey Plaza can be seen in Parks & Recreation with Amy Poehler. And watch out for the adorable Satya Bhabha! I think we will be seeing more of him soon.

Over 300 fans got their stuff signed. The fans were the hardcore loyal fans of the movie and Edgar Wright. Most people had their Blu-rays and DVDs signed but a large group of others were getting their poster or Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack LP signed. There were a couple Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead DVDs in the crowd as well. Some people brought their comic books too! One girl even had a purse that she had made that all of them signed. Another girl just had a piece of paper. My favorite fan had her little artbook -- she had sketched a little drawing of each of the 12 people and then had them sign under their picture. I think I might actually like the movie even more now, after this event. The New Beverly is showing 2 more screenings of the movie tonight and tomorrow night at midnight! I will be there tonight enjoying the film with other members of the cult of Scott Pilgrim. The movie is not for everyone, I guess -- if you don't like video games or appreciate a fun and silly movie than you may not like the movie, but it really is a whole lot of fun! Now, once again, I just can't wait to see what Edgar Wright will come up with next!

Please check out all the pictures from our fun signing last night right here!

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Only Women Bleed? The Expendables, Salt, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Posted by Charles Reece, August 22, 2010 09:11pm | Post a Comment
Over the past couple of weeks I've watched the latest action films: Phillip Noyce's Salt, Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables and Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Each is sort of aimed at a particular target audience, at least to the degree that one accepts that we like to identify with an action hero who's more like us. Respectively, that means woman, man and teenager/young adult. I'm not so sure about that, since I just like to see people beating each other up, regardless of demographics. And I'm still hoping for a gay action film, but not one made for video or that takes place in prison. That is to say, I don't much care how close I am to the protagonist. But I still find it fascinating how these three films reflect age and gender.

The most old-fashioned of the bunch is The Expendables (if the 80s is considered old), not just due to the waxy countenances of its stars or to Stallone's preference for building sets and then destroying them with real-life explosives, but because women in his film are not to be hit. This rule isn't so much a moral one, but an effect of the way the women characters are used. Since we're dealing with a group of mercenaries, and killing for money isn't exactly a sympathetic endeavor, the script provides women for the star members -- Stallone, Jason Statham and Jet Li -- to care about. Although we never get to see Li's wife and kids, we're made aware that he kills in order to support them. Statham has a girlfriend (played by my favorite ex-Buffy cast member, Charisma Carpenter) who's shacked up with a new boyfriend due to the former's tendency to mysteriously vanish for months at a time. Her new beau is a yuppie who beats on her. In the scene that received the most cheers from the audience, Statham exacts punishment on the yuppie and his bros on a basketball court while the girlfriend watches in admiration. His comment to her is something like, "you should've waited for me." Using Rambo's moral calculus, bruising one woman's eye is far more evil than murdering a bunch of anonymous individuals for cash. As former Expendable turned tattoo artist cum team guru Mickey Rourke explains, if he had just saved one woman's life, his soul could've been saved. Thus, Stallone finds redemption in rescuing a Third World dictator's daughter (Giselle Itié) from being tortured by Eric Roberts' rogue CIA agent and his henchman, Stonecold Steve Austin. In order to do this, the Expendables have to lay waste to the imaginary Latin American country's capital, which will probably have disastrous effects on the country's infrastructure for years to come. But what's possible mass starvation and the death of who knows how many innocents when it comes to a man's soul? Perhaps if you feel bad about killing, you just shouldn't kill.

Salt is everything the Black Widow should've been in the last Iron Man movie. There's a cornball plot about Russian sleeper agents infiltrating the highest ranks of the United States' security divisions, which is ultimately to serve the goal of starting a mass nuclear war. Somehow that's supposed to serve the agenda of Party purists. Rather than two capitalist countries going to war, if we're believed by the Russians to have struck first, they'll decide to be communists again. One would think that if the communists were so adept at rising through the ranks of rival governments rather than having to settle on opening a Russian bakery or driving a cab, they wouldn't have to start wars to take over the world. But I digress. Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is clearly a compromised agent (I won't spoil how much so, but suffice it to say there'll be sequels) who attempts to kill the Russian president (the story's set in the near future). Unlike the women in The Expendables, she has her own agenda, resisting the attempts of the men (both the Russians and the Americans) to subjugate and define her according to their respective ideologies. That she should receive an occasional fist to the face is a sign of progress, of woman as action subject rather than object.

Despite its ironic retro-video game stylings and nerd-boy hero (Michael Cera, again), Scott Pilgrim is closer in spirit to Stallone's more earnest chivalry than Noyce's seemingly more contemporary feminism. Basically, Scott has to fight off all challengers -- the seven evil exes -- to win the love of Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). To modernize this fusty view of romantic conquest, one ex is a girl from Ramona's bi-curious phase. However, despite her having superpowers, striking first and the fact that no one bleeds in these battles, Scott won't fight her, so Ramona has to do it for him, sometimes using his body as a weapon. The ironic phrasing of the scene (including Scott saying, "I can't hit a girl") certainly makes it seem youthful, but it's just a mask for nothing much having changed with gender roles in action films. As Marx suggested of philosophy, awareness doesn't mean s

August 13, 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Posted by phil blankenship, August 13, 2010 11:43pm | Post a Comment