Weekend Roundup: Rockin’ w/ Scott Pilgrim and Getting all Tangled up

Happy Monday! Hope y’all enjoyed a wonderful April Fools Weekend and nobody pulled a prank on ya. It felt quite Spring-y over the weekend but today it’s back to parka-weather with rain and high winds 😦

Just a quick box office news, looks like Hop was a heapin’ success for Universal this weekend with $38 million and despite its stellar review, the Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi actioner Source Code only managed to rake up $15 mil to come in second (per The Numbers). Well, there still isn’t anything worth seeing at the cinema after I last saw Jane Eyre, but there are a few recent releases I’ve missed so it’s always nice to catch up on those. After watching quite a dark-themed movie last week (Constantine), we opted for something decidedly lighter this time.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott & Ramona and the seven evil exes

I’ve blogged about this movie a while ago when this movie was sort of trampled by Expendables vs Eat, Pray Love at the box office back in August 2010. And lots of people offered a theory why it flopped — it only made about half of its $60 million budget domestically — when I talked about chameleon vs. perpetually-cast actors post.

The primary reason I was even interested to see this movie is because of director Edgar Wright, who frequently is part of the British comedy trio with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I loved Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and just like those two, this one was also well-received critically. And guess what, it really was entertaining!

Here’s the gist: Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), is 23-year-old bass guitarist in an up-and-coming garage rock band who fell head over heels in love the second he laid eyes on a girl with colorful hair named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Ramona reciprocated despite her initial hesitation, but in order to date her, Scott must defeat the league of her seven evil exes who are in control of her love life.

The story is based on a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley which I’ve never read, but I must say watching the movie is like seeing the comic book comes to live. Wright’s direction is inventive and fun, utilizing the multiple panels style just like the comic strip and have the words from the comic book being projected on screen, depicting the ‘fantasy’ realm the characters inhabit. Unlike in real life, no matter how hard the people are punched or how far they fall down from the air, they never get hurt. When they perish, they just burst into a confetti of pennies in the air. The fight scenes are all fun to watch but at the same time it makes it hard to really connect and empathize with the characters as they never really seem to be in peril.

But for a movie that’s seemingly more style over substance, I thought the script is pretty good, it’s full of witty and funny dialog that’s pretty engaging throughout. I particularly enjoyed the fight scenes between Pilgrim and Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans, Brandon ‘Superman’ Routh and indie-darling Jason Schwartzman, which are the more well-known actors playing the evil exes. All of the actors inhabit their characters really well, and though I think Cera should branch out more acting-wise, this is definitely the kind of role he’s best at and Wright makes the most of it. Winstead is beautiful and is worthy of the affection of seemingly every guy she meets, but she doesn’t come across very sympathetic nor expressive, so it’s a bit tough to warm up to her character.

Just one of the electrifying fight sequences

Despite the dazzling visuals though, in the end I got a bit of a video-game fatigue from watching all of the crazy fight scenes, but clearly I’m not the intended target market for this. The music especially isn’t my thing outside of the context of the movie and the quirkiness also wears out after a while which makes me doubt about the movie’s lasting appeal compared to previous Edgar Wright’s movies. ‘An epic of epic epicness?’ Hmmm, not quite. But for a Friday night entertainment, it was a rockin’ good time.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Tangled

Seems to me that the movies that have been such absolute delight to watch have been animated features. Two of last year’s top five favorite movies were both from that genre and it probably will be so again this year, including this one from Disney. Now, I grew up with Disney Princesses flicks so naturally I’m a sucker for a film like Tangled. Yet for whatever reason, I didn’t get to see this on the big screen, which I really regret now. We actually bought tickets for them last Fall but ended up seeing The Social Network instead which were playing a bit earlier next door. In any case, I’m glad I finally did. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie!!

Tangled‘s got everything you’d expect from a fairy tale movie. Obviously you’ve got the Princess, the dashing Prince-like love interest, the evil motherly figure, the quirky townsfolk and of course, the expansive castle. Originally titled Rapunzel, it’s based on the classic German fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm of a magically long-maned Princess who’s locked in a tower by her wicked, selfish ‘mother.’ Disney apparently changed the title to be more appealing to boys who might be deterred from seeing a Princess flick (per Wikipedia). They also argued that Rapunzel isn’t the only main character in the film, as Flynn Rider is also featured prominently in the film. Instead of a traditional prince, Rider is a thief on the run who stumbled upon her and inadvertently changed her world forever.


Whether or not the title-switch tactic worked, this one was a real winner for Disney. It’s grossed more than half a billion dollars worldwide, more than double the cost to make. Yep, Tangled cost $260 million to produce, perhaps a lot of it goes to the 3D rendering, and it shows. The Wiki article mentioned that the filmmakers combined ‘the best of both worlds’ of CGI technology and traditional hand-drawn animation Disney’s famous for and the result is impressive. This is by far one of the most picturesque and colorful animated features I’ve ever seen and the animation is smooth and seamless. I really was in awe of how gorgeous every scene is, with the night scene of the two main characters on a boat surrounded by lanterns. It was nothing short of magical.

This Princess flick has come a long way from the classics as far as the character goes. Rapunzel is a heck of a lot more assertive and strong but never losing her naivete and vulnerability. She’s bubbly and vivacious but not dim-witted. Her interaction with Flynn from the moment they met is endearing right from the start, but it’s refreshing to see that she’s not immediately swooning over the guy despite he’s the first one she’s ever met. Flynn is the typical charming bad boy, self-seeking at first but finds his heart over time. Voiced by Mandy Moore and Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, it’s a lovely combination that’s supported by an equally wonderful supporting cast. In fact, the two non-talking animal characters, Maximus the horse and Pascal the little chameleon are such lovable and memorable creatures, while Tony-award-winning Donna Murphy is excellent in the voice role of villainous Mother Gothel.

As with any Disney’s works, especially when 8-time-Oscar-winner Alan Menken is involved, the music is one of the best part of the movie. All the musical segments are lively and just pleasing to the ear, with I See The Light as my absolute favorite, it was such a lovely duet. The lantern scene when the song appears is my favorite as well, yes it’s on the schmaltzy side but you’d be hard pressed to deny its charm.

Tangled’s plot reminds me a bit of Little Mermaid (a girl longing for freedom and Pascal is like the new Sebastian) and part of Sleeping Beauty (she’s separated from her parents all her life), but yet it’s still a pretty unique story that kept me laughing and crying throughout. I also like the fact that Disney keeps this one pretty clean and wholesome, as a lot of animated features these days are filled with crude jokes and inappropriate innuendos. By the end I was totally enamored by this movie and the Blu-ray is now on its way from Amazon 🙂 Disney still reigns when it comes to romantic animated features and this one is definitely a keeper for years to come.

5 out of 5 reels

Well, what movie(s) did you manage to see this weekend? If you’ve seen either one of the movies above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them as well.

43 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Rockin’ w/ Scott Pilgrim and Getting all Tangled up

  1. If I had to give both films grades, I’d probably switch the two grades you gave for each of them.

    I loved Tangled and the best part were the characters in that it did seem like Disney has evolved a bit. And yes the lantern sequence is EXQUISITE. Saw it about 3-4 times just to engulf myself at the loveliness. BUT the songs were not classic. Sorry. Maybe “I See The Light,” but the rest were mostly forgettable. A friend felt the same way and she said that the MUSIC was great (from Alan Menken) but the lyrics were off.

    As for Scott Pilgrim, it was my favorite film from last year. Totally get it being a niche audience though, but as an Edgar Wright fanboy and totally interested in that kind of music/visuals, it seem as if it was tailored made for me. Oddly enough I hadn’t heard about the graphic novels until I saw the film, so I checked them out and for the most part Wright really did a kick-ass job adapting the world to film.

    1. Hi Ryan, actually I was feeling rather generous giving Pilgrim a 3.5, it’s probably more like a 3. I do appreciate what Wright did with it, but I don’t exactly love it enough to see it more than once. Tangled on the other hand is just lovely… I like what you said, ‘engulfed by its loveliness’ I totally was. I do like the songs, but ‘I See The Light’ blows everything else out of the water. In fact, I’m listening to it as I’m responding to these comments 😀

  2. Didn’t manage to watch any movies this weekend. Coming up: Mansfield Park.

    I thought Scott Pilgrim was fun, but nothing to write home about. My husband loooooooooooved it, but then he was a fan of the graphic novels beforehand. We both adored Tangled … a wonderful return to form for Disney!

    1. Oooh Mansfield Park!! I know lots of die-hard Austen-ites hated it as it’s not too faithful to the book but I LOVE it! I adore Frances O’Connor and the two blokes who fancy her are both awesome. It’s the first time I saw Alessandro Nivola and he’s one of my fave actors now. He made a sexy period-drama bad boy 😉

      Interestingly, both my hubby and I love Tangled more than Scott Pilgrim (hence we both agreed to buy it). Yes, a wonderful return to form indeed!

  3. So very much glad you got the opportunity to see SCOTT PILGRIM!!! It’s only, like, my favorite movie EVAHHH! Happy you mostly liked it! Indeed, Cera fit this role well.

    But your review of TANGLED has especially cemented my desire to see this flick. I’ve checked eight Redboxes the first two days of its release, and nada! I don’t know what is more sad: me checking eight Redboxes or all eight Redboxes not having the title. Bugger. Excellent reviews, as always!

    1. Wow, that is a comprehensive and passionate review!! I couldn’t comment on your post for some reason though, darn Blogger! Wright must’ve immersed himself into the material and it showed that he made this ‘from the heart.’

      Ha..ha… perhaps you went to the same places I did for Red Box, I too couldn’t find it anywhere so we opted to do the Amazon Streaming, expensive at $4.99 but worth every penny!! Hope you get to see it soon, Andy.

  4. hehe Sounds like a fun weekend (certainly got more viewing in than me)

    Shame you got fatigue in Scott Pilgrim. I love that film and could watch it every day of the week, turned up very loud too!! Brilliant visuals and great characters. Did you check out Chris Evans eyebrows as i said? awesome frowning!!

    Tangled is great fun too, my girls love it. They are always dressing as Rapunzel (putting wigs on to extend their hair). I love Maximus too, he reminds me of one of our cats (who is definitely half dog, I reckon anyway).

    I will post up about my weekend when I get home this evening.

    (I have changed my site again lol)

    C

    1. Hi Custard, I love your new banner on your blog. Lynette is such a talented photographer!

      Hey, no shame in telling how I feel… I do appreciate it for what it is but it’s just not my cup of tea in general. Evans was funny but I thought Routh’s part was the more interesting of the two hunks 🙂 He’s just so huge compared to everyone in that scene and that itself was amusing.

      No surprise your girls love Tangled, but I think no matter how old I am there’s always a place for Disney Princess flicks 😀

      1. Oh, I am sorry if a came across rude saying “shame” I didn’t mean to cause any offence. I hold your opinions very high, they have steered me towards some very good films. I respect your opinion greatly.

        Sorry my good friend

        Scott aka Custard

        1. Oh no, I know you’re joking Custard, I’m quite used to British humor, he..he… so no biggie. You are sweet for worrying though, that’s a sign on a good friend 🙂

          Btw, I’m glad you decided to use Lynette’s photos for your blog now. I love Ivan’s (my hubby) work so much so why not utilize it right? It’s a treat to have such a talented spouse, isn’t it?

  5. PrairieGirl

    Love the name of the Tangled movie, glad they changed it. If only I had this movie at home this weekend to balance out the dark and undelightful Prizzi’s Honor!

      1. PrairieGirl

        Batman Begins is in my “queue”, sitting on my TV stand, that is, which puts it front and center. Now only to start viewing it… ;-D

  6. Ted S.

    I’ve never seen any of those two movies, I might give Scott Pilgrim a rent but as of now I’m not in the mood to see it. As you know, I’m not into animation much so I’ll pass on Tangled. I still haven’t watch Toy Story 3 yet, I bought it way back in October of last year.

    The only movie I watched over the weekend was Dune, I’m finally catching up on the Blu-rays I bought over the holidays. Dune is still the strangest movie I’ve ever seen, I saw years ago and still feel the same way about it. They pulled the plug on the remake, maybe it’s a good thing since the original was one of the biggest box office misfires of the 80s.

    1. Ted, you are missing out if you don’t like animated features, they’ve gotten better and better every year. What is it you don’t like about it if you don’t mind me asking? Toy Story 3 is amazing, you’d want to watch the other two after that, I’m sure of it 🙂

      Oh I’ve been curious about DUNE but I kinda figured it’d be weird. You bought the BD even though you’re not crazy about it?? I did hear about the remake but then it went ‘poof’ so maybe they’re afraid it’ll bomb again.

      1. Ted S.

        Oh I saw the first two Toy Story films, in fact Toy Story 2 was my favorite Pixar film until I saw The Incredibles. I’m getting The Incredibles when it comes out on BD later this month, haven’t seen it in years. I saw all of Pixar’s films, except Toy Story 3. I hope to be in the mood sometime soon so I can watch it and enjoy it.

        I think the last couple of years I sort of lost interest in animated films, probably because I’m well in my 30’s now and just not into them as I was when in my teens and twenties.

        It was cheap sale that’s why I bought Dune, got it for like $10. Also I haven’t seen it in years and it’s one of those films where you didn’t like it and didn’t hate it either. It was a rare instances back in those days where an “artistic” director like David Lynch was put in charge of a large scale production film. Of course it didn’t turn out well for Universal. Ridley Scott was originally attached to direct but he left because his brother past away and didn’t want to make the film at the time.

        1. I think Pixar has spoiled me to the point where I don’t even look at anything else. I completely missed the boat with ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and ‘Despicable Me’ last year. With foreign animated films, it’s different, though. Stuff like ‘The Illusionist’ and ‘Persepolis’ I didn’t miss.

          1. I still need to see Illusionist and Persepolis, both are on my Netflix queue. You should give ‘Dragon’ a watch Rich, everyone I’ve talked to love that one. I do love Pixar of course but for whatever reason I wasn’t as enamored w/ Up as I thought I would.

  7. Ahah well I want to see Tangled even more now! As you already know, I wasn’t too fond of Scott Pilgrim, I didn’t hate it but it left mildly bored throughout. Totally agree that Elizabeth Winstead’s character really didn’t emote at all so it was a stretch to think she was worth all the trouble. It’s a niche movie and I guess I wasn’t not in it 😉

    1. You should see Tangled, Castor, it’s really not just for the girls 😀 I get how you feel about Scott Pilgrim, there were some parts I didn’t care for but I still think it’s worth a watch for its unique direction and visuals.

  8. I heard an interview with Wright where he said that he’d been thinking of doing “Pilgrim” way back in… 2005? 2006? And he’d seen Cera on “Arrested Development”, and instantly knew that it was who he wanted in the Pilgrim role. I guess it boils down to Cera maybe not branching out… but also, in this case, not being asked to branch out, either.

    Fun fact- Cera’s plain-Jane girlfriend on Arrested Development (Ann Veal, played by Mae Whitman) is the girl evil ex in “Scott Pilgrim”.

    1. Wow, so this has truly been a labor of love for Wright, that’s cool. It’s amazing then that Cera hasn’t really changed much in that time span, but it’s good for the movie that he didn’t I suppose. This is the only full movie I’ve seen Cera in, but I’ve seen enough clips of him in other stuff to think that he’s playing similar type of stuff. But he’s still young, who knows he’ll branch out later.

      Cool trivia John, Mae was pretty funny in this movie.

  9. Ah, Scott Pilgrim. I really enjoyed it, but it was my 15-year-old son’s favourite movie of last year and he still hasn’t forgiven me for not putting it at No.1 in my Top Ten of 2011. Still, I acquired a few Cool Dad points just for including it at all. 😀

  10. Scott Pilgrim was a marvel of editing and joy and visual panache, like a film version of a video game, but great. Headache inducing for a few seconds, but very rewatachable.

    I kind of feel bad for Michael Cera. He’s very good at delivering/elocuting his lines, and he had martial arts training or his role, but he still can’t break out of his awkward hipster teeanger mould.

    1. Ha..ha.. a film version of a video game, that’s a fitting description. I thought Wright did an amazing job translating a comic to screen almost literally. It could’ve been awful if not handled properly but the result was quite fun here, so kudos to him.

      Cera is one of those actors who looks so boyish that it’d be hard for him to play someone over 25. Even some famous actors still suffer from that as they grow older.

  11. wow! 5 out of 5 for Tangled! I knew you would love it! and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! What a great Disney movie it was.

    I think the rating you gave Scott Pilgrim is rather fair as it was fun to watch, but it didn’t quite have that good amount of “umph” to tether most of my attention to the screen the majority of the time!

    great reviews Ruth!

    1. Yeah, I just couldn’t possibly knock any points out from Tangled… it was everything I could hope for from a Disney Princess flicks.

      3.5 for Scott Pilgrim was all I could muster given how I felt about it. It was good, but still not my thing.

      Yeah, I’d be honored to do TTT for Thursday. I’ll find 3-4 trailers w/ a short writeup for each by Wed and send it over your way.

  12. I’m happy to see you liked Scott Pilgrim. I think i liked it a bit more, but the n again i am a pretty big video game player myself so i think i appreciated the videogame references a bit more. And i think in the scene where he was drunk and angry at Ramona Cera showed a bit of range, but maybe thats just me

    Haven’t seen Tangled yet, but i do plan on giving it a chance at some point. If your interested, i found a article a while back on the current trend of fairytale movies(I planned to do a blog post about it when i first found it, but never found the time to write a good response to it. I still may make a post about it at some point). One of the articles main points seems to be that most fairytales take a negative view of female sexuality. Here’s the link http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/mar/06/hollywood-remakes-fairytale-snow-white

    As for what i watched, i finally got around to seeing Black Swan(My dad got it on blu-ray). I realize that its not your type of movie, but i personally enjoyed it. I also saw 127 Hours and The Fighter recently.

    1. Yeah, I really didn’t know what to expect despite having read a bunch of reviews, but I did enjoy it. Cera was good but the ‘range’ he showed was still limited to his role as a geeky 20-something boy, and the ‘anger’ came off a bit more cartoon-ish which is to be expected given the subject matter.

      Interesting article J, thanks for sending it. I don’t think the fairy tales take a ‘negative’ view on sexuality, it was just the way things were back then. Besides, these Princesses were mostly very young, Rapunzel just turned 18 and just figuring out the new world around her, including men.

      So you’ve been watching a lot of the Best Picture noms this weekend, good for you. The Fighter was tremendous. I enjoyed it a lot despite not being a fan of boxing movies.

      1. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree about Cera…although on his imdb one of his rumored roles sounds far different from his typical fare. I am really hoping that its true, as i think he does have more range than what he usually shows(I don’t know if you ever watched the clips of him from Youth in revolt i posted a while back, but i feel those clips are a better example of him showing some range)

        And i’m not totally sure i agree with the article, although it seemed to target the Red Riding movie as more of a example of that then Tangled.

        And since i don’t have no money to go to the theater, i have had to wait for them to come out on dvd to watch them.

        Btw did you see my blog post on extras?

  13. the reason why animated films have become the best films in last few years is that they are the only ones offering warmth, positive messages and have absence of darkness and violence in them.

    I’m happy that HOP did good at cinemas, bravo for our dear James Marsden. 🙂

    1. Well I’d have to agree w/ you about the amount of excessive violence in them. As for darkness, well we all go through those, life can’t be all cheery all the time but I agree we mustn’t just focus on the negative part of life. Filmmakers these days probably think movies ought to be so dark, brutal and down right depressive to be good, which just isn’t the case.

      Did you get to see HOP, Dezzy? It kinda fell off my radar but if it’s really good I might rent it one day.

  14. Same with you,I don’t think Scott Pilgrim worth 5 stars (or reels), I did give it 4 tho.
    I only enjoy the funny part and the fighting scene of this movie but the story is really not to exciting.
    Someone in youtube once mentioned this is the best by Edgar Wright…nah,for me Shaun is still much better.

    You give tangled 5 reels and great review…I’ll try to check it out soon. I have just bought new DVD player 🙂 I will try to catch up with my movie pile up this weekend.

    1. No, it’s by no means Wright’s best IMO. I like Shaun and Hot Fuzz a lot more, maybe more towards ‘Fuzz’ as it’s got Tim Dalton in it 🙂

      Hope you get to see Tangled soon, Nov. Do you like Disney Princesses flicks? If so, then you’re up for a real treat!

        1. I don’t know you well enough to know you are or aren’t. You could’ve grown up watching those type of flicks and have a totally different taste later in life.

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