Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an exotic multiplex confection – a romantic comedy with elements of its visual grammar swiped from comic books and videogames. It’s tempting to say that people who are sick of conventional Hollywood love stories will find a bracing alternative here but, unfortunately, Scott Pilgrim isn’t much of a love story, unless the affair you’re interested in is the one between a boy and his cultural totems. If that’s the case, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World should be hugely entertaining. It’s a visual knock-out with the sensibility of a pinball machine, caroming from one set piece to the next, turning on lights and spinning little flippy things and ringing bells. It’s not Speed Racer – it remains genuinely character-focused and never aims to overwhelm. But it’s playful, borrowing concepts like power-ups and extra lives from the RPGs and adventure games that have made them an intuitive part of a certain kind of narrative grammar for a generation.
The videogame community made an important outreach effort to movie nerds on Wednesday night, as representatives from Rockstar Games made the trek into Westchester County, New York, to demo their current release, the open-world Western adventure Red Dead Redemption, for the arthouse crowd. Presided over by erstwhile New York Times movie critic Janet Maslin, the game night was an unusual booking for the Burns Film Center, which is more inclined to host filmmaker chats with the likes of Werner Herzog and Jonathan Demme. Props to the powers that be at the Burns for recognizing that Red Dead Redemption is freaking awesome and giving Rockstar a venue for showing a bunch of hardcore film people (not to mention all the hip youngsters who brought hard copies of the game to be autographed by the Rockstar crew) what’s up in the increasingly expansive world of interactive entertainment.