I saw this film when it first came out and wanted to review it then, but never got round to it before it faded from memory. After watching it again on DVD, here is my review of the latest Edgar Wright film.
The story is relatively straight forward; boy meets girl, has to beat 7 evil exes to win the girl’s heart. The way that premise actually plays out is far from it however. If you are going to watch this film, prepare to have all your senses assaulted from the opening titles onwards. The film has a logic all of its own and you will not be able to predict what is in store. Random simply does not do it justice.
However, I found it all really easy to follow and very well paced. I didn’t notice it was a 2 hour film until I checked my watch, and was surprised it hadn’t begun to drag. The direction of this film is absolutely brilliant. It’s a real shame that this is the wrong type of film to earn him anything but teen magazine movie awards, because Edgar deserves them. Playing out more like a video game, this film is the most visually arresting film I’ve ever seen. You can tell he’s laboured over ever frame and it makes the film, for the most part, a real joy to watch. Wright has a lot of fun cutting between scenes, times and locations in various different ways. He also uses sound effects throughout with timing that just seems to come naturally to him.
Ok, now I come onto what I don’t like, but this requires me mentioning spoilers, so if you want to read on I really suggest you watch it first.
——BEWARE, HERE BE SPOILERS——–
The main problem I had was Scott. On first watch I absolutely hated the guy. If I’m honest, I never expected to really like him since he’s played by Michael Cera, which is biased I know, but that’s the truth. I was probably willing to be wowed, but I just found no redeeming features in his character at all. The film keeps trying to tell you he’s a loser, but gives no reason why. He’s a bassist in a band, who’s an ex of someone in a massively popular band, manages to persuade girls to date him really easily and is a seemingly amazing hand to hand fighter. I could not root for this guy at all, and to see what he did to Knives made me think of him as the only real bad guy in the piece. Sure, the others attack him and Gideon uses mind control, but they have the decency to call themselves the league of evil exes. They know that they’re hurting people and Scott just couldn’t care less.
On second watch, I think I got what the film was trying to go for, but it still fails in my opinion. I think the whole film is in Scott’s head, and so we only see the world through his eyes. It can therefore be said that he sees himself as a loser and only remembers the negative things said about him. At the start of the film, we see his obvious demands for attention; turning the conversation onto himself and asking for confirmation on how amazing his girlfriend is. This fits in completely with the sword ending.
Yes, the final two swords deal. That the sword of self respect is way more powerful than love. This is my single most hated moment of the film, when it turned from having a sucky character to actually completely sucking. I get that the idea of love conquering all being a bit cheesy and that Scott needs to have self respect, but honestly, this is when I realised how messed up this film is. It made me click why I just hate it.
This film was marketed as one made for gamers and for fans of Indie music. Experienced gamers in particular have commented on the number of references to video games being very high and I figured this was a film for the geek culture. And to some extent it is, but it’s not for those who are happy there. You see what this film really wants is to hang out with the cool kids. It wants to be the cool band that other people scream at, and it’s that desire that annoys me. There is nothing wrong with being uncool! Coolness is defined by the world, and I really don’t think it’s something anyone should aim for. Our individuality and willingness to express ourselves should be celebrated. Wanting to be cool and fit in is a way of conforming, or to put it more bluntly, distorting who you really are so that people believe you belong somewhere you don’t.
Throughout there are so many references to being cool, and it’s clearly something Scott wants, yet by the end, he hasn’t got it, as Knives is, apparently, too cool for him. Scott has some really good friends though. Take Kim, an ex he hurt really quite badly it would seem, but she sticks with him, not wanting to change for anyone else. She sticks with the band when the lead singer signs the record contract, even though she comments that they’re selling their souls. Admittedly there are better ways she could have handled it, but she wasn’t seeking out the approval of the masses.
So that in short is why I dislike this film; that although it is an awesome piece of directing, it’s too much of a try hard. It’s a film for those who’ve felt shunned by the cool crowd and want to be accepted. And ust so you know, I was ignored too, but now I’ve grown up and I’ve rejected them.