Scott Pilgrim Vs The World Versus Kick-Ass
The other day I was exchanging a shared admiration with a friend of mine for the director Edgar Wright. “Yes Spaced was amazing…”, “I love Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz too…”, but as we got on to the subject of Scott Pilgrim VS the World my over enthusiasm for all things Edgar Wright turned a bit vanilla. It’s not that I think Scott Pilgrim is a bad movie, I just don’t think that it meets the expectations of Wright’s previous two. If we are talking about a film in a similar vein, I went on to add then Kick-Ass was a certified better cinematic experience.
From the nerdy argument that ensued, the idea of a new feature for the Illbomb; where I pit two similar films against each other and decide which one is best, sprouted from my round-in need of a haircut head. I vaguely explored this idea in the Blood Oranges in the Godfather post on why The Godfather part 1 was better than the Godfather Part 2, but this will be the official post in the VERSUS series. The verdict has already been given but it is time for me to argue why Kick Ass is better than Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
Okay so both films are revisionist versions of the comic book superhero based on two different countercultural comics. Both of the leads are unfortunately annoying, relying heavily on the supporting characters to lift the film. In Scott Pilgrim Brie Larson as Pilgrim’s ex girlfriend exercises the best way in how to do a funny turn in bitchiness. Surprisingly I particularly enjoyed both Brandon Routh, and Chris Evans as Mona’s ex-evil boyfriends (bearing in mind that I have never enjoyed a moment when either were on screen in other movies). I would argue that they are the best, out of the seven ex-boyfriends Scott has to fight including some of the film’s funniest scenes.
However the supporting characters are not enough to save the film from the banality of Michael Cera’s titular protagonist. We see events through his eyes and of course the fights that he has is exercised through the annals of his computer game playing mind, as opposed to reality. This I don’t have a problem with, as it is perfect for Wright’s dynamic style editing and special effects. But his neurotic slacker persona fails to engage from the rest of the film’s spectacle, whilst his awkward romance with Mona is neither enduring nor affectionate.
Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is a different story altogether. I prefer Wright as a director but the redeemable aspects of Kick-Ass outweighs its inherent flaws. Kick Ass’s protagonist Dave Lizewski is more of a nerd and social outcast than Scott Pilgrim. This unfortunately embodies the stereotypical character odyssey of such films where the loser overcomes the bullies to become the most popular person at school (urm see Karate Kid and Grease?). On the other hand this could be perceived as ironic take on such clichés. Lizewski’s philosophical attitude on the decision to become a crime fighting hero is also a pastiche on the recurrent themes of the genre. Think of Bruce Wayne’s decision to become the Batman vigilante after his parents are killed, or Peter Parker’s decision to become Spiderman after he indirectly causes the murder of his uncle and guardian; “with great power comes great responsibility” or something of the like. Lizewski’s decision to become Kick-Ass is all too simple; how come no one has ever thought of to just become a crime fighting hero to improve their environment?
It is perhaps universally acknowledged for those that have seen the film, that the subplot of Kick-Ass is the most entertaining. This involves the characters of Big Daddy and Hit Girl (played by Nick Cage and Chloe Moretz), a father and daughter crime fighting team that provides most of the fire and thrills for the movie. The initial thing to note from these two characters is that their antics are undoubtedly aim to shock.
Let us take into account their first scene. Big Daddy as the ex-cop Damon Macready shoots his daughter Mindy aka Hit Girl at point blank range in the chest. Bearing in mind that this act was part of a training session to make her stronger, we still never forget that she is only 11 years old. Yet if we think of Damon as a psychopath this is nothing compared to what Hit Girl is capable of. She is more comfortable blowing someone’s brains out or slicing a drug dealer in half in true Quentin Tarintino cartoon violence, than playing with Barbie Dolls or anything else your average 11 year old girl does. While she dispenses of all the bad guys while shooting out countless expletives, we wonder how sick and twisted this is, and yet how sick and twisted are we for loving it?
These reasons outline why Kick Ass is a better movie than Scott Pilgrim versus The World. Ultimately Kick-Ass pushes the envelope in terms of ideas and execution. By contrast Pilgrim sets off well but runs out of steam overindulging in the kookiness of Michael Cera and an unconvincing romance. Pilgrim is still an enjoyable experience but fails to reach the bar set out by Kick-Ass. And of course, there is no Hit Girl.
WINNER: KICK ASS BY HUGE MARGIN