When I first saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I absolutely adored it. I hadn’t actually dated any human being at this point, like any self-respecting antisocial misanthropic middle/high school mankin, but I fell in and fell in hard with the ethos and romantic message of the film, especially the anti-hero characterization of the titular Scott Pilgrim. Years later, and in the context of the graphic novels and culture as a whole, the film does not appear in such a rosy light.
Arby ‘n the Chief, more than ever, strikes me as an artifact of its time—late ‘00s Xbox Live culture—and as created by a man who is smarter than he is capable of articulating at the time as he experiences growing pains both as a director and as an early adult in his 20s. And those growing pains—that fuzzy grey area between childhood and adulthood, and all the insecurity and uncertainty that comes with that—those are what give the show its surprisingly resonant emotional core and its funniest, most endearing moments, what led to its widespread success.
In the seemingly endless waking nightmare that is our existence with the Star Wars and Marvel “Cinematic Universes,” we have been treated to a lot, a lot of talking about Star Wars, but it’s not exactly a critical discourse. It’s more akin to a nonstop ejaculation from—what I can only assume Disney’s horde of marketing people would condescendingly refer to as—the “enthusiast” demographic.
Saints Row: The Third should be, by all accounts, an unremarkable game. Most everything about it is “competent” and nothing more. The gameplay, running around and shooting with no cover, is fine. The missions are fine. The open world is mostly lifeless and small. Yet it was easily one of my favorite games of 2011, one that I plugged around 100 hours into over multiple playthroughs, and the entry of the Saints Row franchise that put the series on the map as more than a Grand Theft Auto clone. Why? What is so damn special about this also-ran open world crime game?