Reviewed Jun 19, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
I loved the attention to detail (when the 16-bit Universal logo came up I thought I was going to really enjoy it) and the set pieces were brilliantly shot and choreographed but I detested the small detail of the characters. Pilgrim is such a whiny little prick how are you supposed to root for him? I loathe Cera and he manages to turn his whimpering little insecurity act up to 11 here. I very nearly walked out of the cinema when I watched it (something I have never done before) but then the first battle kicked in and it became a bit more palatable. Unfortunately every time he wasn't punching somebody the film was like nails down a chalkboard for me. Culkin was okay but the rest of Scott's friends were almost as annoying as he was. I did like all the exes (Routh and Schwatzman being the most entertaining) but they can be outrageous because they are only on screen for a few minutes, with Pilgrim he is a constant irritation like a little kid sat behind you on a long haul flight who kicks your chair every ten seconds. For all the good work done behind the camera I just can't get over the fact how much I hate these people.
The other problem is that one of the biggest strengths (the action sequences) is also one of the film’s main weaknesses. Whilst they are visually stimulating they are too frequent to actually give the characters time to breathe and develop. Great action does not live in a vacuum. It should spring naturally from the story and be of real consequence to the characters involved. The motivation for the action in this film is not there. Should we care why Pilgrim is fighting these seven evil exes? Does the final battle offer any real emotional investment? For me the set pieces are pretty to look at but emotionally flat. Compare it to another recent film and box office bob-omb, Speed Racer, the characters are simple but come the final race you really want Speed to triumph. Part of that is down to the way the final set piece is shot, edited etc. but most of it comes down to the journey we go on with this character. That side is totally underwritten here and I can only assume that is largely down to the constraints put on the film by the source material. Whilst it probably would have been better to have cut it to 4-5 evil ex showdowns the comic book fans would have been in uproar. It is a shame as it is impossible to give a damn about Scott and Ramona's relationship which is what should be at the heart of the film.