Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the effect of video games on movies

Complaining about the influence of video games on movies makes me feel more than a little like the old guy yelling, "Hey you kids, get off my lawn." And besides, this summer at least, I'm not all that sure it's a bad thing.

Now, to be clear, I'm certainly not talking about movies based directly on video games - I can't think of the last one of those that was any good. In fact, movies "based" on another medium, particularly '80s TV shows, generally raise a red flag for me (with this summer's "The A-Team" being a welcome exception ... what a big blast of fun.)

Instead, I mean movies that take on the feel of playing - or even better, somehow being in - a video game, with this summer's best example so far being Christopher Nolan's "Inception." Until being knocked from the No. 1 perch last week by the seriously funny and well worth seeing "The Other Guys," Nolan's flick rode a long winning streak to already more than $227 million at the domestic box office in spite - or perhaps because, your choice - of a plot that, like the best of video games. presents a puzzle with level after level of challenges for viewers.

And if all Nolan's tricks don't quite add up in your mind, you're far from alone. It took me two viewings to accept that even if everything he's cooked up doesn't add up perfectly (and I'm fairly certain it was never designed to), it's still pretty much a masterwork both visually and in terms of storytelling.

In an interview with the L.A. Times, Henry Jenkins, a professor of communications, journalism and cinematic arts at the University of Southern California, explained the game influence of "Inception" perfectly: " 'Inception' is first and foremost a movie about worlds and levels, which is very much the way video games are structured. Games create a sense that we're a part of the action. Stories aren't just told to us. We experience them."

Just how much more of an appetite is there for this interactive kind of filmmaking? That gets a major test this weekend with the release of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World," which packs the double geek bona fide of not only looking just like a really good video game but also being based on a fairly obscure series of graphic novels (and yes, though I'm well aware I should really be too old for "comic books," I have read the first two installments of this, and it has a visual and verbal wit that should be just right in Edgar Wright's flick.)

Like "Inception," the tale of Scott Pilgrim is indeed also a quest with many levels, in this case battles with "seven evil exes" to win the heart of Ramona Flowers. Even with a love story of sorts at its core, I'll be curious to see how "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World" fares in a busy week that also contains all the action you can stand (and probably much more) with "The Expendables" and Julia Roberts starring in a more conventional romantic saga directed by "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy, "Eat, Pray, Love."

As for the overall trend of interactive movies, brace yourself for more, because it's not going away any time soon (there's even, of course, a sequel of sorts to "Tron," "Tron: Legacy," coming in time for Christmas.) And as for me, well, as long as the ride continues to be thrilling, I'll just be enjoying it while it lasts.

4 comments:

Justin said...

No such thing as too old for comic books. I am beyond geeked to see Scott Pilgrim this weekend.

Cullen said...

What is this "too old for comics?"

Reel Fanatic said...

I never will be, Cullen, though on certain days I still feel like I should be

Ashen said...

The only idea why video games (videojuegos) got created is to give entertainment to the users. Nowadays the trend is for creating the games, based on movie characters because any how people get more attracted by looking the super heroes in the movies.