Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick jump into the way back machine to review the 2010 cult hit Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
The Flick: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
What’s it About: Scott Pilgrim has started dating a mysterious dream woman Ramona Flowers. Little did he know that in order to date Ramona, Scott will have fight and defeat Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes.
Metacritic Score: 69
The Nerds’ Take on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010):
Dave: This week’s Nerd Review can truly be considered a cult classic, even though it is only a decade old. Like many other cult classics, Scott Pilgrim vs The World bombed at the box office, even though it received very strong critical reviews. Those who have watched this tremendous film though know that its box office failure does not begin to tell the story of what makes this movie so special.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World was the cinematic adaptation of the excellent graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Describing the movie is no easy task because there is so much going on. But, in general, the movie begins with the main character, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), living in Toronto and, despite being 22 years old, is dating a high school girl, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott lives with his very cool, very gay, very awesome roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and plays in a band known as Sex Bob-Omb. Scott has a dream about a girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and is shocked when he realizes she is real. He falls hopelessly in love with her and dumps Knives. However, to date Ramona, Scott must face and defeat her seven evil exes….and that is where the fun really begins.
The movie is like watching a graphic novel merged with a video game and brought to life. It is a fantastic adaptation of the graphic novel, complete with some of the more witty and funny dialogue taken straight from the graphic novel series. The cinematography is awesome, particularly during Scott’s over-the-top fights with the League Of Evil Exes. This includes battles with A-List actor Lucas Lee, who is played by Chris Evans roughly a year before Captain America made his appearance in the MCU, as well as an epic bass battle and throw down with a vegan super-powered Brandon Routh, four years after he portrayed Superman. Everything leads to the final boss battle with the evilest of Ramona’s exes, Gideon (Jason Schwartzman). Scott learns the power of self-respect and, with a big assist from an unlikely ally, wins the day.
There is so much to just love here. As mentioned, the fight scenes are tremendous, although we never find out where Scott gained such knowledge of the martial arts in Toronto….which is entirely the point. The movie has nothing to do with reality. It is, in many ways, a love letter to fans of graphic novels and video games. It appeals to fans of fighting games and RPGs in particular. This explains why it has such a passionate fan base 10 years after its release. The movie is hilarious in so many places. There are one-liners that will stick with you for a long time after the movie is over. The characters you meet as the movie progresses are unforgettable and each one of the exes is brilliantly distinct from each other. There is certainly a fair amount of immature humor but it is done so well you will not notice. The soundtrack is excellent as well, featuring music from Beck and Metric. The cast, as mentioned as we have gone along, is tremendous. Cera knocks it out of the park, as does Culkin, Evans, Routh, and let us not forget Brie Larson’s performance as Scott’s own evil ex, Envy Adams, many years before she saved the galaxy as Captain Marvel.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World cost $85 million to make; it’s box office gate was only $48.1 million, which is beyond disappointing. The film has fared much better on DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming services. It seems to actually get more popular every year, so much so that there was a lot of talk about re-releasing the movie in theaters, in 4K, to commemorate its 10th Anniversary this year. As with everything else in 2020 though, COVID put a screeching halt to those plans, which is very unfortunate since many hardcore fans were expecting it to out gross its original box office gate upon its re-release. All the same, I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you have a love of graphic novels, video games, over-the-top fight scenes, excellent music, side-splitting moments, and just an all-around good time, then this is the movie for you as it has all of that and much more. If you have not seen it yet, watch it as soon as you can. Once you see it, I have a feeling you will break out the L word for it.
Dave’s Rating: 4.75/5
Patrick: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is fun little cult classic from 2010 based on the collection of comics of the same name. Scott Pilgrim is a wishy washy twenty-something drummer of the struggling band Sex Bob-Bomb. He is dating a high school girl, but quickly becomes obsessed a woman skating through his dreams. Scott finally meets her and learns her name is Ramona Flowers. Scott decides to dump his high school girlfriend to date Ramona. Scott receives a rude awakening though, as he is quickly confronted by the first of Ramona’s evil exes. After defeating the first ex in a fight, Ramona reveals Scott will have to defeat all seven of Ramona’s exes in order to date her.
The premise of this movie is simple, but the world in which it is set is pretty bonkers. First, Scott sees Ramona in his dreams because she is literally traveling through his dreams. Scott’s quest to defeat the Evil Exes thrusts him to some strange video game atmosphere where he gets coins for defeating exes, a disembodied voice that yells K.O. when someone is defeated, and even the occasional extra life. None of this is really explained in the movie, it just is. Additionally, Scott’s internal thoughts and feelings are on display in a comic book sort of way with speech bubbles and sound effects appearing in word form on the screen. The overall look of the film is sleek and stylish, and I don’t really find myself questioning why I’m seeing these images or how they fit in the narrative because it just looks cool.
Michael Cera does well as the titular character the whiny, wishy washy Scott Pilgrim(more on this later). Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Ramona, and she’s fine, but the character of Ramona isn’t particularly interesting as she really just is this mystery woman Scott chases. The real stars of this movie are the evil Exes. All seven are fun in their own way, but Jason Schwartzman in his limited role as Gideon Graves the founder of the League of Evil Exes really takes the cake. Schwartzman plays this rich, hipster type who puts this whole evil ex thing in place just to keep on Ramona. It’s ridiculous, but Schwartzman is the goods and makes the whole role his own. There are so many other notables in this cast like Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Aubrey Plaza and even Brie Larson. All have quirky, but ultimately brief roles as the movie itself is about Scott’s quest to find self respect.
And that ultimately is where this movie doesn’t work so well for me. Scott Pilgrim is a terrible character. And I know, I know I’m not supposed to like him in the beginning. Here’s the thing: I never eventually like the guy. He’s horrible to Knives. He’s Horrible to his band. He’s self absorbed and acts as if the whole world is out to ruin his life. By the time Pilgrim starts realizing he’s been a big jerk all this time and should do something about it, I no longer cared that he is trying to get himself together. And that’s a problem. Ultimately Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a slick looking film with a unique world to explore. There are some witty jokes and fun characters, but when the credits rolled I wasn’t clamoring for more. It’s not bad per say, but I can’t say it’s all that great. But hey, at least it’s not Dumb and Dumber am I right?
Patrick’s Rating: 2.0/5
Overall Nerds Rating for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010): 3.38/5
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: WarGames (1983)
The Nerds tackle WarGames! The movie from 1983, not the wrestling match. Global Thermonuclear War sounds like a fun game! Right?
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review 1983’s classic WarGames!
The Flick: WarGames
What’s it About: Underachiever David Lightman has no interest in school, but loves the world of computers. When David finds a backdoor into a computer system named Joshua filled with interesting games. David thinks he’s stumbled onto a fun distraction and chooses to start a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”. What David doesn’t know is that his discovery is much more dangerous than he could ever imagine.
Metacritic Score: 77
The Nerds’ Take on WarGames (1983):
Patrick: “Would you like to play a game?” That’s the question asked of David Lightman when he stumbles into the computer system of an unknown game company in the 1983 film War Games. What follows is a film that introduced many audiences to the concept of computer hacking, pushed the noton of artificial intelligence and tapped into the public’s fears of a Nuclear War with Russia during the Cold War. Loaded with tension, WarGames holds its audience throughout with a climactic scene that is as visually stunning as it is intense.
David Lightman is a bright, but underachieving teenager more interested in his computer than he is at achieving academically. David has learned how to use his modem to find his way into various computer systems (including his school’s system) and looking for ways to manipulate things to his benefit. One day after purposely being sent to the principal’s office so he can steal some passwords, David encounters his classmate Jennifer who takes an interest in David and his skill with the computer. One David learns of a game company on the verge of releasing some new games and decides to try and break into their system and play the new games before they are released. While searching for a way into these various systems, David’s computer comes across a system he can’t seem to enter. Intrigued, David discovers a “back door” into the system, where he comes across various innocuous game titles…and one called “Global Thermonuclear War.” David, thrilled to have a new game to play, starts a round as Russia and immediately launches an attack on the United States. Miles away at NORAD, David’s game registers as a legitimate attack from Russia and the military personnel begin to launch a response. Fortunately, a technician figures out it is a simulation and convinces the military to stand down.
After the incident is resolved, the Government eventually tracks down David and brings him in for questioning. While in custody, David discovers that the computer, now known as Joshua, is still playing the game David and the Government thought was stopped. The computer continues to escalate and execute its strategies, resulting in the United States and Russia gearing up for an attack and retaliation. David, realizing something must be done to stop Joshua, seeks out the computer’s original programmer to try and stop the computer from launching World War 3.
War Games is a fascinating window into the fears and uncertainties of its time. Computers were still relatively novel in the consciousness of the American people and the idea that one could be infiltrated and possibly cause a world war was terrifying. Complicated by the tensions between Russia and the United States, War Games is adept putting the audience on edge. Given the film is nearly 40 years old (YIKES!), things naturally extraordinarily dated. Younger viewers will undoubtedly be curious as to what a modem is and why people are putting quarters into a phone to use it. But for its time, the technology is cutting edge. Nowadays the idea of hacking is commonplace. One scene that has aged well, though is the final scene in the heart of NORAD. In an effort to show the computer Joshua the futility of war, David forces the game to play itself. As it does so, all of these oversized monitors start running simulations. The audience is assaulted with a dazzling display of light and color that even today is still quite powerful.
The movie’s cast is carried by young Matthew Broderick, still three years away from his turn as Ferris Bueller. Broderick does really, really well playing a kid in waaaaay over his head, desperately trying to convince hardened federal agents he is not a spy. Years before her turn in the Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy plays Jennifer. The great Dabny Coleman plays head programmer McKittrick. In true Coleman fashion, he plays the role of slimy asshole better than anyone. My favorite cast member though is the great Barry Corbin in the role of General Beringer. Corbin goes from exasperated to stoic at the turn of a dime. When the threat ultimately passes (38 year spoiler alert) he nearly melts into his seat with relief and the audience can feel the tension leave him.
I have a soft spot in my heart for War Games. While much of the movie is dated by today’s standards, it was far ahead of its time in its portrayal of the act of hacking. While it would be lovely to think that the World is nowhere near a third World War, it seems we may be as close as ever. WarGames ends with a great sense of relief in a war avoided, but it also shows how fragile maintaining a peace can be. While I don’t think the path to such a conflict would necessarily happen the way it did in WarGames, the threat is sadly still very much a reality. Watch this movie for the nostalgia, the dated technology, the strong cast and its dynamite finally. It hasn’t aged perfectly, but WarGames still has some punch.
Patrick’s Rating: 3.78/5.0
Dave As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C in 1983, WarGames hit home on many levels. This was a time when the Cold War was still very hot and living at Ground Zero, we were all keenly aware of the very real threat of nuclear Armageddon that hung over humanity on a disturbingly regular basis. WarGames played upon this reality as well as any movie of its era and it is still one of my absolute favorites.
The general plot of WarGames revolves around the idea that when faced with the reality of turning a key and ending the lives of millions of other humans, the humans in the silos might not have the stomach to press that proverbial button. So, the US Government decides to remove the men from the loop and have a computer, the W.O.P.R., be completely in charge of the USA’s nuclear response in the event of a nuclear strike from the USSR. Meanwhile, David Lightman, a high school genius of sorts and computer wizard at the dawn of home computer technology, is busy using his computer knowledge to change his biology grades and avoid summer school. He gets wind of a new lineup of games from a company called Protovision and he decides to try and find the Protovision computer so he can, in essence, hack into it and play those games before anyone else can. Instead, he stumbles across a remote connection to the W.O.P.R machine and learns all about the man who developed it, Professor Stephen Falken. Using a password that Professor Falken created as a backdoor to W.O.P.R., David gets into the Defense Department’s computer system and decides to play a game called Global Thermonuclear War. The problem is that the game is not a game at all and the aspect of W.O.P.R. that has learning capabilities, also known as Joshua, conducts such a convincing simulation that it convinces the military that the simulation is real. This leads the world to the brink of World War III and a race against time as David and his girlfriend, Jennifer, try to convince Professor Falken to let the military know what is really going on before it is too late.
The movie has an awesome cast, led by a very young Matthew Broderick who plays David Lightman, an equally young Ally Sheedy who plays Jennifer, John Wood as Professor Falken, Dabney Coleman as Dr. McKittrick, and a host of others you will immediately recognize. Everyone works together seamlessly and almost perfectly. While the move almost certainly takes some liberties with the reality of the situation had it actually been presented, WarGames does a fantastic job, especially the last 30 minutes, of taking you inside the control room at NORAD as Joshua displays on its screens an overwhelming Soviet nuclear strike. The tension gets ratcheted up as General Beringer orders the system to DEFCON 1 as some 2400 Soviet ICBMs are being tracked. When David, Jennifer, and Professor Falken show up at NORAD and convince the brass that everything is just a simulation, everything seems to be OK…. until Joshua tries to access the launch codes on its own to launch the US missiles and complete the game.
WarGames has so much good stuff going on. It deals with early concepts of things that are commonplace now, such as the beginnings of what would eventually become the Internet, hacking, and AI. The idea of a computer being able to learn may not seem so far-fetched now but in 1983, it was all rather ground-breaking. Lost amidst everything however, the most important lesson to learn about nuclear war is: The only winning move is not to play. Clearly, the movie means something very different to me than it will to those who did not grow up in the 1980’s prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block. It came out at a time when many people either believed that a nuclear war could be won or, in the alternative, that acceptable losses could exist in any such apocalyptic event. WarGames hammered home the senselessness of any such belief and instilled in many of us the hope that those in charge would never knowingly order the annihilation of the human race. Thankfully, some 38 years later, no one has made the mistake of challenging that belief.
It also is worth mentioning that this movie could, and possibly should, be watched with another 1983 movie, albeit one made for TV, The Day After. Where WarGames showed the logic of avoiding nuclear war entirely, The Day After showed the other side of the coin, about how a nuclear war could start, the catastrophic results of the war, and what happens the day after. WarGames was hopeful; The Day After was hopeless. Still, for anyone who wants to get a good idea of how things were in the early 1980’s watch those two movies back-to-back and you will learn a great deal of what you need to know. As for WarGames though, it remains one of my all-time favorites from the 1980’s. No East German judge here guys.
Dave’s Rating: 5/5
Nerds’ Rating for WarGames (1983): 4.39/5.0
Bandwagon Nerds #62 – WandaVision is Here!
The Nerds review the debut of WandaVision, discuss some casting news in the MCU, and break down Netflix’s announcement to release one new movie a week for 2021
WandaVision debuted this week on Disney Plus and the Nerds are excited and have tons of questions. Patrick, Dave and PC Tunney try and decipher what is happening with Wanda, find MCU Eater Eggs, and who is pulling all of the strings? A couple of casting tidbits have the Nerds intrigued although one rumor may not be all it’s cracked up to be. The Ray Fisher/DC story finds another twist. And the nerds react to Netflix’s announcement that they will release one movie a week in 2021. Finally, the Nerds recognize two icon celebrating birthdays.
About Bandwagon Nerds
Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, and a rotating cast of guests as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!
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