michael cera

[Movie Review] ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ is the Hilarious and Heartfelt Hero We Deserve

In 2016 we saw Batman twice in theaters and for most of us, we left those two encounters less than enthusiastic. With Warner Bros. flailing wildly in need of a hit, in steps some tiny plastic toys to save the day. Even with as good as The LEGO Batman Movie is, it also amplifies how inept Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were at the most fundamental level–being entertaining. In a way, the latest in the Batman universe acts as a sincere apology for the aforementioned disappointments.

To be fair The LEGO Batman Movie has the benefit of irreverent humor that leans heavily in meta territory. The film exists in a world where Gotham City and its citizens are kind of tired of Batman’s shenanigans. Years of fighting bad guys and yet crime rates are as high as ever. Even Batman’s greatest enemy, Joker, has decided that he must concoct a new scheme to get the Caped Crusader in touch with his emotions. With the help of a recently adopted orphan, Dick Grayson, and the city’s new commissioner, Barbara Gordon, Batman embarks on a mission to save his tarnished reputation and the city.  (more…)

Brew & View: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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The first edition of Brew & View, a post in which I pick a movie and suggest a beer for you to enjoy as you watch said film features 2010’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. I caught Edgar Wright’s video game/comic book film in theaters and was a bit apprehensive at first, but warmed up to over time. I gave it a pretty favorable review in spite of any issues I may have had on the first viewing and it’s become a film I love more and more everytime I watch it even though I still don’t think the romance angle is as effective as I’d like.

There’s an indie spirit to the approach Wright takes to the film, but some pretty awesome flashy sensibilities as well when it comes to the way the fights are choreographed and executed. The humor is what carries this film through along with the visual style and video game flare thrown in just for fun.

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Beer Pairing: Tallgrass Brewing Company’s 8-Bit Pale Ale

The choice here is intentionally transparent as it plays with the video game theme that’s also present in the film. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opens with the Universal logo and theme in an 8-Bit style animation and music which fits in perfectly with the name of the beer.

What I feel also links these two outside of the obvious name connection is the fact that Tallgrass’ 8-Bit Pale Ale is a beer that I wasn’t quite sure what to think of at first, but only got better as I drank it more. There’s a bit of a citrus taste that comes through on the nose and on the taste making it a light beverage at first but finishes with a bit of a bite- a perfect beverage counterpart for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.

Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I am not familiar with the graphic novels that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on. I am not the world’s biggest Michael Cera fan, though I really loved Superbad. I am however, an Edgar Wright fan; I liked Sean of the Dead and I loved Hot Fuzz, so with all those factors I was on the fence of rather or not Scott Pilgrim was going to be my cup of tea. I’m happy to say that it fell well within my comfort zone even if it didn’t leave me feeling as enthralled as I would have liked.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is directed by Edgar Wright and stars Michael Cera as our hero, Scott Pilgrim, who plays bass in his band, The Sex Bob-Ombs. Scott is also dating a 17 year old, Knives Chau, that is until he meets Ramona Flowers and he immediately thinks she’s the girl of his dreams. He finds out she works for Amazon so he orders a package and waits for her to deliver it so he can ask her out. They go on a date and everything seemingly goes well, until The Sex Bob-Ombs next show is halted by a man claiming to be an ex of Ramona’s bursts in and begins to fight Scott. Afterwards, Ramona explains to Scott that if they are going to date he has to defeat her seven evil X’s; and if that’s not enough, Knives Chau, not to be ignored has her own plans to try and get Scott back.

For me the stars of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are the tremendous visual effects, the comedic timing in the script and the fighting. The characters were all cast very well, and the film is very fast paced. There is almost never a dull moment during the film as even parts that would normally drag have a visual that captures your eyes, rather its the instantly melting snow as Ramona skates away, or the on screen narration of sound effects such as “Ring-Ring,” when a telephone rings, or “Ding-Dong,” when someone rings a doorbell. There is literally something going on in every scene that keeps you involved and interested even if it’s the smallest of details.

I made reference to my not being a huge Michael Cera fan before, and that being said I really enjoyed him in this movie. His presence adds a level of humor to the role, especially when you see him flying through the air and fighting the evil X’s in an arcade like style. One of the other highlights in the film was Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin); his character is also involved in many of the more effective jokes throughout the film.

When mentioning the visuals of the film, most of them involve the fantastic fight sequences, which are often set up like a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat style showing Scott and his current opponent across from each other and “VS” in between them. The film employs several videogame references throughout that simply a delight, from the score Scott gets for defeating an opponent, to people bursting into coins after they are defeated. However, it is not only videogame-isms at work from scene to scene; it also has many comic book aspects along with it, to the mundane sound effects being animated on screen to “Pow,” “Bang” etc also filling the screen during fights.

All of the aspects explained above regarding the comic book and videogame symbolisms have the potential to really fly above the heads of many audiences and that’s bound to be what affects its success at the box office over its life in theaters. Those not knowing what they might be in for will leave scratching their heads wondering what in the hell they just saw, but those knowing the source material or those that can just let their guard down and can enjoy the ridiculousness of the over-the-top fighting, quick cuts and fast transitions between scenes will laugh throughout the films run-time.

As far as any knocks against the film go, and mind you it’s not a deal breaker, but the romance/infatuation between Scott and Ramona was not nearly as sentimental or heartwarming as you’d find in “good” romantic comedies. Granted most romantic comedies are loathsome, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does it marginally better than most, it just didn’t work quite as well as I’d have hoped. Other than that, everything else in the film mixes and flows well throughout the film. The characters of Scott and Ramona both play off each other well and are interesting, it’s just the attraction and eventual romance that doesn’t seem to mesh together as well as the comedic elements.

I was also impressed by the music used throughout the film. The opening 8-Bit Universal logo and theme was very cool along with the various choices used in the fights. One cue that made me laugh was the Seinfeld theme used in a scene along with a laugh track during the dialogue, which alone had me hooked and loving each second that passed.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a truly funny and original piece of work. The romance and the fantastical nature of the material make the outcome of the fights seem irrelevant, but it doesn’t harm the film overall as its all tons of fun. Edgar Write continues to impress as a director with this visually impressive adaptation that’s filled to the brim with laughs and exciting fight sequences.