Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a 2010 comedy film with action and romance elements produced, co-written, and directed by Edgar Wright with screenplay assistance by Michael Bacall. The film features an ensemble cast of Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkan, Ellen Wong, The Newsroom’s Allison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, future Captain Marvel Brie Larson, and current Legion and Parks and Rec actress Aubrey Plaza, featuring Captain America Chris Evans, former Superman Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman.

Based upon the comic book of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World tells the story of 22-year-old Scott Pilgrim. The bass player for Sex Bob-omb, Scott draws ire from nearly everyone for dating 17-year-old Chinese Catholic schoolgirl Knives Chau. Scott likes his relationship with Knives because it is simple; they play video games, eat pizza, and talk. They haven’t even held hands. That all changes when he meets Amazon delivery girl Ramona Flowers. Scott becomes instantly infatuated with Ramona, believing her to be the girl of his dreams. He learns that she has Seven Evil Exes. He must fight through each of the seven in order to date Ramona.

Both in the film and the comic series, for reasons that are never explained within the plot, the world of Scott Pilgrim is hyperstylized and very video game inspired. In most films, this would be explained by Scott having an overactive imagination, but the thing about Scott Pilgrim (and what I think makes it so much fun) is that it’s all happening, and nothing about that is ever explained, because it doesn’t need to be. It just adds to the fun.

The special effects are pretty good, in my opinion. They aren’t amazing, but that isn’t really the point. Scott Pilgrim shines in the fact that the script by Shaun of the Dead’s Edgar Wright is hilarious. This film, as well as his previous works, show that he has a truly keen eye for genuinely hilarious comedy. His direction is also on point as well, as I found this film to be well-paced and quick-moving. I feel like I never stopped laughing (I guess exhaling out of my nose).

There is a lot to be said for the acting in this film, as well. Arrested Development’s Michael Cera was the perfect choice to play Scott Pilgrim. The awkward likability he is known for is in full effect here. I felt he had chemistry with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and it made the film work better as a whole. That being said, I feel like all of the cast did a fine job.

The soundtrack to the film is actually pretty great, as well. A lot of Sex Bob-omb’s songs are empty and meaningless for comedic effect, but they are catchy as well as being entirely stupid. It’s hard to explain, but take my word for it when I say it’s pretty good.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a hilarious comedy film with a fair bit of action thrown in for good measure (I should briefly mention that the fight scenes are actually entertaining). The film excels due to talented directing, writing, acting… pretty much everything, really. It is a hilarious and lighthearted film that I think everyone should check out,

The Accountant

The Accountant is a 2016 American action thriller film directed by Gavin O’Connor and written by Bill Dubduque. The film stars Ben Affleck, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, J.K. Simmons, and Anna Kendrick. Affleck stars as the autistic son of a U.S. Army Psychological Operations officer. He was of the belief that his autistic son should learn to live in the harshness of the world and overcome it, rather than adapt the world to him. To that effect, the Colonel raises his son and has him train with a number of combat specialists. He essentially becomes a living weapon. He grows up and becomes a forensic accountant for a number of very dangerous criminal organizations, currently operating under the alias Christian Wolff.

Though coming under some controversy for supposedly exploiting autism, as someone very well-versed on the subject, I did not see it that way at all. No, having autism in no way makes you a super-assassin, but it is an entertaining idea, and the film in no way belittles people with autism, nor does it patronize them. The behavioral and neurological factors of autism are rather well portrayed by Affleck. It is very respectful of the condition in that aspect. There’s also some exploration of sensory overload, an aspect of autism I do not feel gets as much love as it should. Yes, autism is used in The Accountant as (half) of an explanation as to why Wolff is an effective killing machine, but I don’t have a problem with that, and don’t see why people do. Autism is portrayed rather accurately in The Accountant. Christian Wolff is never pitied and treated as an unstoppable force of sheer and abject violence and terror, just like any other highly-trained, cold, calculating assassin, as well he should be.

Boasting a rather ridiculous and unrealistic premise, The Accountant is nevertheless a solid film.The film features a very good and, as I mentioned, mostly accurate performance from Ben Affleck. The fight choreography is very well-done, using pencak silat, the martial art used in The Raid, and the shootouts are excellent, on par with John Wick, even. There is a farmhouse shootout that serves as the first major action piece of the movie; it is extremely entertaining. The Accountant, in fact, seems to draw from John Wick in several aspects. John Wick is a smarter-than-it-seems action thriller that purposefully leaves some questions about the plot unanswered, and gives an extremely limited backstory on the main character himself in order to  preserve his legend and mystique, making John Wick as a character seem a lot more interesting. The Accountant does this effectively. There really isn’t a lot we know about “Wolff,” which isn’t even his real name. His legend is very effective. Another benefit of leaving some things to the imagination is avoiding too much exposition. Some modern action movies make the mistake of thinking the “movie (plot)” part is more important than the “action” part, overburdening the audience with needless and ultimately annoying exposition that gets in the way of what the audience came to see. The Accountant does this well, to an extent, although there are some very crucial plot elements that are not explained in any detail and require explanation in order to make sense, leaving the audience confused at some places. There’s a difference between leaving things unsaid in a film, and leaving plot holes. The Accountant tends to stray too far in one direction, and really drags down what would’ve been a great film, instead ending up just a pretty good one. The film features a subplot of Treasury agents on Wolff’s trail, but they never even come close. Although it ends up being a rather sizeable chunk of the film, I wonder why they are even in there.

Anna Kendrick’s performance leaves much to be desired. Though my slight celebrity crush on her prohibits me from calling her absolutely terrible, they would have been better served here casting another actress who doesn’t look and dress like a college freshman, as her character is an accountant for a robotics firm.

One thing I can say for certain is I need more Bernthal in my life. If you are one of the poor, unlucky souls yet to feel the Bern (bringing it back), Jon Bernthal is best known for his performance as Shane in The Walking Dead and more recently for his role as Frank Castle/The Punisher in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a role that has rightfully netted more acclaim and notoriety than his Walking Dead role ever will. Also featured in a small role in SicarioBernthal is extremely effective at anti-hero roles, and is one of the most underutilized character actors in Hollywood, though hopefully not for long. Bernthal can flip on a dime, at first being absolutely horrifying and intimidating, and then empathetic and likeable. Proof of this can easily be found in the opening of Daredevil: Season 2 and his monologue a few episodes later.

In The Accountant, Bernthal plays a ruthless, yet unsettlingly likeable assassin who comes up against our protagonist, attempting to dispatch him in efficient fashion several times, yet failing to kill him, leading him to consider the The Accountant his equal. Bernthal’s character and performance is interesting and engaging; I can’t wait for the day he firmly establishes himself in Hollywood, as his performance, along with Affleck’s, serves to offset the damage done by a holey script.

The Accountant is an effective, yet flawed effort by Warrior director Gavin O’Connor. Though by no means perfect, it is unabashedly entertaining, utilizing a unique and suitably ridiculous premise to interesting and positive effect. It is at times confusing and unengaging, but ultimately enjoyable and fun, with several neat ideas and aspects littered throughout that add layers to what could have been cliché, boring, or worst, offensive. It isn’t the best film of the year, by any means, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself.