Only over half a month ago, I saw one of the funniest, most exciting and most original action movies I have seen in the longest time. Combining the ludicrous visuals and physics of both comic book worlds and video games, the film had one of the most visually astonishing and innovative styles of this year. Not to mention it had a clever script, likeable (if not COMPLETELY BADASS) characters and action sequences that actually meant something. But what ever happened? Well, the movie debuted only at the #5 spot at the domestic box office and is almost already pushed out of theaters altogether. That is depressing to say the least.
Unfortunately, “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” has crucially underperformed in its short run. I personally find it depressing that not as many people were taken in by trailers and TV spots that have been in constant rotation. The film essentially delivers everything that I look for in a good summer movie. Even among my circle of friends, almost all of them are skeptical of all the hype I am giving it. After not getting a single word in edgewise, one friend remarks, “Even if it does turn out to be the greatest movie of all time, I’m not going to see it because it combines the real world and comics,” followed by a general agreement of the others.
Okay…What the hell kind of sense does that make? First off, why for any reason would you restrain yourself from seeing a supposedly great movie? Second of all, this is all coming from people who have not seen the movie. They really have no right to give the movie any form of harsh criticism without actually seeing the movie. For all they know, they might not even familiar with the context in which the comic book elements are being used. After some pondering throughout the rest of the day, the idea occurred to me that people, having not seen the movie, create their own version of the movie in their head based on the advertisements they have seen and they set their idea as their expectations.
That should not be the way it is. People must learn to set aside any expectations before going to see a movie. Trailers are generally misleading. They can give away the funniest jokes in a movie that is entirely bereft of humor, reveal important details (I will NEVER forgive the editors for the “Terminator: Salvation” trailer) and set false expectations. Trailers made “Year One” look entertaining and that turned out to be my least favorite movie of last year. They made “17 Again” look like a ditzy, retread body-switch type of movie and it turned out to be not all that bad. I guess people were not willing to just trust the fact that the font in the “Scott Pilgrim” trailer flat out stated “From the director of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz.’” Those were two of the most iconic cult classics of the last decade. If that doesn’t already fill seats, then something is wrong here.
The question I ask is: “Why does word of mouth work for some movies and fail with others?” The certain financial successes are movies based on popular and established properties, such as “Spider-Man” (hell yes!) and “Transformers” (hell no, no, no), but it is even more impressive when something else succeeds simply by positive feedback. For example, “Paranormal Activity” started as a small, little thriller and the fact that audiences called it one of the scariest movies of all-time aided it in hitting sleeper-hit jackpot. Even this year, “Inception,” an unnaturally smart and inventive action flick, earned most of its profit based on everybody raving about how it was a must-see. Yet when I try to recommend “Scott Pilgrim,” I get looked upon like a freak.
Look, I cannot tell you to do anything. I am just saying take peoples’ collective opinions into consideration before bashing the crap out of a movie you haven’t even seen. If you are still on the fence about the whole shebang, I highly recommend seeing the film. In theaters. You are doing yourself a major disservice if you are waiting to rent it. This is a film that knows what it is doing and has a scope that can only be truly represented on the silver screen. It is up to you whether you are along for the ride or not. This may be one of the only movies this year that will be relevant five to ten years from now (along with “Inception” and “Toy Story 3”). I recommend you do not wait until that time. Then again, it seems this post may be about a week too late.