Reviews Comments: Characterization sacrificed for plot

Characterization sacrificed for plot
This movie wants to do so, so much. It wants to accurately represent the style of the comics on a visual level, it wants to tell the entire story, it wants to keep all the funniest bits in. What it seems less interested in is the characters, who lose a lot of development, specifically the supporting cast.

Which might've been fine, but Scott, Romana and Knives—here given much more focus than in the comics—are shafted as far as characterization goes as well. Scott's core character is mostly in tact, but he doesn't develop or grow much, leaving us following a thoroughly unlikeable character with Kim being the only one who seems to give him even a little grief for his faults, leaving him in an unearned sympathetic light. Knives is pretty much the Clingy Jealous Girl personified, her sole act of development is one line at the end (at least Scott gets the last twenty minutes.) And Romona? Romana is cold towards Scott at the beginning, warms up to him for no readily apparent reason, and then toys with him until the last act of the film. She's been hollowed out, now more a Mac Guffin than a character, going through the necessary motions to get us through all six books without a second thought given to how this makes her personality seem.

On a more positive note, stylistically the film is wonderful. I felt like I was watching a live-action version of the books, specifically during the fight scenes, and those little captions were wonderfully placed. The actors did well with what they had too, the hamminess of the League was great fun. But given the lack of attachment to any characters, the whole thing felt a little hollow, like spectacle for spectacle's sake. The film wasn't adapted because Edgar Wright loved the characters, but because he wanted to get to see stuff like the POW sign shattering and the coin explosions.

I admire the film's ambition, for sure, and perhaps stretched over two movies, or with a few of the more superfluous boyfriends hacked out (as none of them did anything to advance the character or movie's arcs, save for Gideon and maybe Patel) this could've been a great adaptation, with more room for genuine emotion. As it stands, perhaps a bit of pragmatism was in order.


I agree with everything except the Ramora part. In the books, Ramona does in fact warms up quickly to Scott (on their first date) and to others in general, that's a characteristic of her. The problem in reality was that we didn't see much of that in the movie. She does move the story along and has a relationship with Scott but she has so little interaction with anyone else, which makes her seem like a lower character (from a deuteragonist to a normal secondary character).

Ultimately the biggest problem was that there was too much material for just one movie.
comment #14968 marcellX 19th Jun 12
I'm rereading their date now, and what leaped out at me is Romona smiles for most of it. Winstead reads the lines like she's shooting him down rather than light teasing. I think that's the problem. The dialogue is the same but the tone is so radically different as to make her getting into bed with him jarring.

So it's not the "warms up to him quickly" that's baffling, it's the "from 0 to 100 in ten minutes" that's jarring.

If there was too much material, the smart thing to do would be to jettison a few exes and some side characters to make room for Character Development, which is where the real heart of the series is.
comment #14969 Wackd 19th Jun 12
There wasn't really that much of a plot either.
comment #14987 shiro_okami 20th Jun 12
Yes, there was. It wasn't intricate, mind you, but there was a lot of stuff happening.
comment #14994 Wackd 20th Jun 12
^ I meant in comparison to the graphic novel. The movie was a Compressed Adaptation that left out most of the last four books. Unless by plot, you're referring to the main story concept (Scott vs. 7 exes) instead of the complete sequence of events of the story. Considering that the story of the graphic novel is character-driven, your point of view would make sense.
comment #15024 shiro_okami 22nd Jun 12
^ Yeah, that's what I was getting at.
comment #15028 Wackd 22nd Jun 12

plot and story are not the same thing, the plot is the purpose and drive of the story, in this case Scott vs the exes, the story overall is the one that takes in the details surrounding the plot. Even saying they don't have the same plot would had also been correct, since one can argue that the major plot in the books were more about Scott relationship and development with the other characters, mainly Ramona.
comment #15030 marcellX 22nd Jun 12
And that's the thing. They took an intricate love story with flawed characters and reduced it to bare basics. Unfortunately, they misunderstood what those bare basics were, and now we have a cluttered action story with flat characters.
comment #15036 Wackd 23rd Jun 12
And without touching the plot.
comment #15037 Wackd 23rd Jun 12
@ marcellX: Incorrect. I looked in the dictionary; "plot" and "story" are synonyms, so they actually are the same thing.
comment #15038 shiro_okami 23rd Jun 12
^ plot is "part" of the story, yet they're still not the same thing, like how a computer is the composition of several items, you could say the CPU is the computer, but it's not. Besides, the core point is that saying a movie has little to no plot is like saying a film has no scrip.
comment #15039 marcellX 23rd Jun 12
<Sigh> What part of "I looked in the dictionary" did you not understand? Are you saying the dictionary is wrong?
comment #15041 shiro_okami 23rd Jun 12
^ yes. Specially if you only looked it in one dictionary.

Also I'm saying that you're focusing on the wrong point. The movie has to "story" is also a very wrong statement.
comment #15042 marcellX 23rd Jun 12
ps. you shouldn't rely on dictionaries that don't explain "why" things are the way they say.
comment #15043 marcellX 23rd Jun 12
^ I did use more than one dictionary, but whatever. I generally think of a "plot" as the complete sequence of events in a work, rather than just the basic conflict. I'm not going to bother arguing about which dictionary definition is the right one.

PS: Just out of curiosity, what dictionaries do you recommend, then? Any online? I often rely on them when there is a misunderstanding in a discussion on the fora and review discussions.
comment #15044 shiro_okami 23rd Jun 12
Guys, guys, not the point. Please take this conversation to PMs. If there's one thing I can't stand it's when discussions on a review get sidetracked by semantics.
comment #15045 Wackd 23rd Jun 12
^ Agree with Wackd. Both of you have a point you're making, and the definition of words doesn't change that actual point, so really if you just establish what you mean by plot and story, we can understand your issue, even if we end up labelling it incorrectly
comment #15051 Tomwithnonumbers 24th Jun 12
^ Agree with Wackd. Both of you have a point you're making, and the definition of words doesn't change that actual point, so really if you just establish what you mean by plot and story, we can understand your issue, even if we end up labelling it incorrectly
comment #15052 Tomwithnonumbers 24th Jun 12

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