Junkpile – 07.29.10

Junkpile is a semi-regular feature wherein I dump all the random stuff that isn’t fit for its own post.

More on Sinatoro

IO9 has a nice little interview with Grant Morrison and director Adam Egypt Mortimer, who dropped this dandy little qoute:

Sinatoro is a shamanistic code word for “Frank Sinatra.” There’s no actual analogue to Sinatra, but the movie draws from the Sinatra ideal — the blue-eyed American pop icon with these strange aspirations to be connected to gangsters. It’s a mnemonic code, it’s an archetype.

del Toro Finally Mounts His Expedition

Seems like I’ve been hearing about this fever dream of Guilermo del Toro’s for ten years now, but it finally seems like the ribald Spaniard is finally getting to make his adaption of At The Mountains of Madness – and with none other than James Cameron in the Producer’s chair. Good for del Toro. I’m not his biggest fan, but I like his work well enough – I’m the tasteless lunatic who liked Hellboy 2 much more than the first, although I thought Pans Labyrinth wasn’t as strong as The Devil’s Backbone.  The source short story is certainly one of Lovecraft’s more straight sci-fi pieces, with a clear backstory provided for the beasties the expedition encounters. Not his most terrifying work by any measure, but I can easily see how it can tweaked for a lively movie.

Thor Has The Destroyer

And he looks sufficiently Gortish.

Scott Pilgrim vs. My Expectations or “Does anyone remember Laughter?”

(SPOILER FREE) I have a confession here – I really adore Scott Pilgrim more for its humor than its heart. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m invested in Scott and Ramona and Knives and Young Neil and Stephen Stills and Wallace and the rest, but that investment came from being entertained by these characters. For me, the series always worked best when creator Bryan Lee O’Malley made with the funny, because the guy knew how to deliver a joke. From how he’d lay out his panels to the over-the-top reactions of his characters, to the unreasonably hilarious lines that would float up from their mouths, Scott Pilgrim delivered more laughs, and sheer joy, for me in a single volume than most sitcoms can muster in an entire season (unless we’re talking Arrested Development). I mean, this panel alone (from Vol 3) always cracks me up on a number of levels:

But in Volume Five, Scott went through some serious shit and the humor shifted into a different pitch. I didn’t mind it so much, and given the direction the story was taking it was appropriate. Yet it was in Volume Five that I began to suspect that O’Malley was more interested in delivering something poignant than something smashingly entertaining for his final volume.

I was wrong, but I was also right.

Volume Six is just about the most frenetic and kinetic  in the entire series and that’s saying something. I don’t know if hanging with all those Hollywood types infected O’Malley’s approach to this final battle between Gideon Graves and Scott, but it sure as hell feels like a classic big-budget Hollywod dust-up as rendered with all-due exuberance by a dude who has soaked up the visual language of Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Hell-If-I-Know over the course of a life-time.

Yet O’Malley does his best to give this fight an emotional component as well, and if he succeeds at all in this, it’s in how he makes the fight more Ramona’s battle than Scott and Gideon’s. The problem, of course, is that for five volumes, Ramona has been the distant aloof Mystery Chick, which somewhat undermines what O’Malley attempts to pull off with her in Volume Six. It works, but not as well as it should have. It relies more on our desire to see Ramona get her shit together after five volumes of keeping Scott (and us) at arm’s length.

Yet, while I can appreciate, and even enjoy, what O’Malley is shooting for in Volume Six, I didn’t love the wrap up. It didn’t delight me and I laughed at loud maybe three times, which is an all-time low for this series with me. As much as I thought O’Malley’s visuals and cartooning in general were really strong, his writing was looser and less adroit – jokes fell flat for me in quite a few places and I’ve never experienced that in a Scott Pilgrim chapter to date. The excitement of Scott and Romona’s duel with Gideon is undercut by how inevitable and perfunctory it all feels.

Having said that, the last four or five pages brought a tear to my eye. It’s a beautiful capper for a series I love, and for characters I really liked to spend time with – even Scott when he was at his most selfish and obnoxious. But that tear was earned by five years of funny, life-affirming chapters prior to this one.

So, yeah, I put down Volume Six and felt moved but that’s all. While being moved by a comic would be enough for me in any other case, it’s not enough for me with Scott Pilgrim. The thing I love most about Scott Pilgrim was the thing in shortest supply here in Volume Six. Your mileage may vary. And I do whole-heartedly recommend the entire series, including Volume Six, if you’ve been on the fence. I can’t imagine my life without this one my shelf.

That’s enough outta me. You know what to do.

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