Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is an unfaltering torrent of adrenaline fuelled comic euphoria creating a feast for your eyeballs and earholes. It’s a hybrid in every sense of the word by not being pigeonholed into one genre. It’s a romantic, action/adventure, musical, fantasy and hilarious comedy that combines the mediums of music, film, comics and video games. It blends everything that could possibly be amazing into a postmodern masterpiece.
Based on the comic series by Bryan Lee O’Malley and directed by Edgar Wright, the film follows the lovable simpleton Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera, as he meets the girl of his dreams (literally). He soon finds out that Ramona has considerable baggage in the form of seven evil exes who he has to defeat in order to continue dating her.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the closest thing to reading a comic book without actually ever picking up a comic. There are sequences that are common to comics, but have never been done on film, such as a conversation that will flow through different scenes mid sentence. Most scenes flow from one to the other like panels overlapping by using part of the previous or next scene to connect the two. Scenes are pushed out of frame like a moving comic strip and onscreen text directly ripped from the page are used to transition. Split-screens used for conversations look enirely like panels and the film also visualizes the music and exaggerates sound effects with onscreen text exactly like the comic.
When I first heard that Michael Cera was cast as Scott Pilgrim, I was a bit skeptical along with the majority of the book’s fans. Scott Pilgrim is a completely different character and I couldn’t see Cera portraying him . Fortunately, the movie KO’d my skepticism because Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim. He is the ultimate underdog and does a wonderful job. He isn’t completely Scott Pilgrim or his regular Michael Cera character but a mix between the two. He shows a wide range of emotion and displays a dim witted and hyperactive dick-ish character. This film shows that he can go beyond his regular character and his talent shouldn’t be doubted.
Every actor embodies the character they play and although I could gush about the casting, I’ll just mention my favourites. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is lovely as Ramona, Mark Webber and Alison Pill are impeccable as the frontman Stephen Stills and deadpan Kim Pine respectively. Kieran Culkin steals every scene he is in as Scott’s cool gay roommate Wallace Wells. The evil exes are also fantastic especially Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman.
Edgar Wright is the perfect person to direct the film, especially considering his reference laden previous works of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Edgar Wright’s films have always been my favourites and Scott Pilgrim is no exception. He understands what makes the book so special and is able to apply his frenetic style to bring the series to life. He is able to use comic book sensibilities without feeling goofy or campy. Scenes flow effortlessly from action scene to quiet sequences while still maintaining an even tone.
The action sequences are imaginative and some of the best I have ever seen. Every scene is more exciting than the last and equally satisfying. The action is shot expertly by Bill Pope, allowing the viewer to actually view the action unfolding and have a good grasp on what is occurring instead of using close ups like the majority of Hollywood action films. The special effects are integrated seamlessly and never look out of place. Cera is also surprisingly able to be a bad ass and it doesn’t feel forced or awkward. It is exciting and a joy to watch him in every action sequence. The choreography has been refined to a precise art and could even be compared to a dance scene in a musical and one of the fights even includes a dance routine.
The music also deserves praise specifically the bands that contributed original songs for the fictional bands. Beck brought the supposed “shittiness” of Scott Pilgrim’s band Sex Bob-omb to life by actually making some pretty awesome energetic garage rock tracks. Broken Social Scene have fun with creating the shortest songs possible as the ridiculous Crash & The Boys. I was never a huge fan of Metric but their song “Black Sheep”, which was used for the Clash at the Demonhead, is exceptional.
References to video games are strewn throughout the film like using a plethora of Zelda sound effects and music or 8-bit weapons. There is a lot geek humour, but even if you don’t catch the joke, there will be another one immediately after. The film is geared towards a niche group of people but it can still be enjoyed by everyone. There are also numerous Toronto references and it’s quite a kick to see.
I have always considered the comic to be absolutely perfect and the film comes very close. The only drawback is that there isn’t enough time devoted to great character and relationship development for which the book is known. It’s quite understandable that something would be sacrificed when adapting a six volume series to a movie. It is astonishing what the film is able to accomplish and convey in under two hours though. The film is on a constant high note and every second is packed with hilarity and greatness. In terms of being faithful to the source material, the film exceeds in expectations by directly using panels and dialogue from the book without feeling stiff.
Regardless of a lack of relationship development, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is an instant favourite. I had an idiotic grin on my face the whole time and I can’t remember the last time that I laughed that much during any movie. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is this year’s 500 Days of Summer for me and I know my love for the film will increase with each viewing. It’s a fantastic companion piece to the comic series, but doesn’t surpass it. It does something that no other film has done by capturing and defining a generation of people who grew up on Nintendo perfectly. It has everything that I could ever want in any form of media. It’s a unique and one of a kind film that doesn’t come along too often and it would be an undeniable travesty to miss this one.