Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Director: Edgar Wright

Notable Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkin

Rating: PG-13

Review:  Let me be upfront about Scott Pilgrim.  When I walked out of the theater, I was in awe of what I witnessed but still had Inception as my favorite film of the summer.  Though after having time to let it stew and actually discuss the movie with some friends , I realized this film had an even greater effect on me than the other spectacle of the summer.  But how?  But why?  How could a comic book adaptation be better than an original film written by one of the most complex minds in the industry right now? I’ll tell you why.  Edgar Wright.  Meticulous care was given to every aspect of the film because of his love for the source material.  He didn’t want this to be another Daredevil or Judge Dredd.  No, he wanted Scott Pilgrim to be an example for directors to come about how to properly transform a multi-volume graphic novel into a movie just shy of 2 hours.  It’s a difficult task because what do you leave in?  What do you take out? How to you convey the feeling reading a comic book has onto a screen of flowing images? Damned if I know, but again just ask the master architect:  Edgar Wright.  Because of him, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World trumped (even if only by a minuscule amount)  a film whose quality I never thought could be equaled in a very long time.

The film centers around Scott Pilgrim (Cera), the geeky/super cool bassist of a struggling rock band who is a sucker for love.  His current girlfriend Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) is everything he could ever want, until he sees a mysteriously intriguing girl whom he deems his soul mate on sight.  He later learns her name is Ramona Flowers (Winstead) and decides he has to be with her if it’s the last thing he ever does.  But, he doesn’t exactly give Knives a fair warning.  After Scott finally gets close enough to Ramona to find out a relationship is possible, he throws Knives to the curb like old news.  She is devastated. Scott couldn’t care less.  He’s got everything he’s ever wanted in Ramona and things for his band (The Sex Bob-ombs) are finally starting to look up when Scott receives some troubling news from Ramona and things get downright interesting.  In order to continue dating Ramona, Scott has to defeat Ramona’s 7 evil ex-boyfriends in battle or die trying. Suffice to say, Scott has a lot of work on his hands between trying to get his band signed and fighting evil ex-boyfriends.  But the ride is too amazing to pass up as we watch Scott do his best not to destroy his life.

Sure it looks like just another Cera movie…

Right off the bat I heard a lot of talk from people about how Scott Pilgrim would just be another “Michael Cera” movie.  You know, Cera falls in love with a girl, there’s a lot of quirky humor, tons of indie music is played, and Cera mumbles a lot.  It’s a shame that so many will probably dismiss this film just because of the awful stereotype a movie gets by casting Cera in a leading role.  What people don’t realize is that Cera was the only person that could be Scott Pilgrim.  I didn’t read all the graphic novels, but from the bits I did pick up via skimming through, all the quirkiness and socially awkward behavior Cera brings to the screen are exact characteristics of the character Scott Pilgrim.  And trust me, this is in NO WAY another Nick and Nora or Juno.  Did either of those have Cera in certifiable fight scenes?  Or Cera playing bass in an actual badass band?  Yea, it’s a lot of quick-witted humor, nothing new to Cera, but he delivers it perfectly and it coincides with the rest of the characters because the whole atmosphere of the graphic novels is filled with other characters of the same caliber.  Cera is the perfect anti-hero at parts even, and you have to ask yourself if you really want him to succeed at all.  That’s definitely out of the box for Cera, who usually gets stuck playing the character you’re supposed to feel sympathy for. Writing off Scott Pilgrim just because of one actor is a grave mistake.  Just because an actor fits an already created role perfectly doesn’t mean it will be like every single one of that actors movies.  Trust me, it’s not worth missing one of the greatest films in a long time.

The thing that impressed me most about the numerous accomplishments of Scott Pilgrim was how Edgar Wright was able to completely transform a graphic novel into a film without losing any of the original feel.  Wright’s unique fast-paced editing style made it feel like scenes were panels on a comic and you were watching each one whiz by the screen.  He never drags a scene out and even on occasion as a character finishes his line, the camera will already be on the next scene while the lines from the last spill over. Wright’s usage of quick cuts and the quick talking actors also attributed to this feeling, but none of that could have been possible without Wright’s vision.  And again, he is the only director that could have pulled this feat off.  Watch every other comic book adaptation and all of them are shot in a totally cinematic form.  They may not be bad, but there is a distinguishable difference in watching the movie and reading the comics.  Scott Pilgrim on the other hand has you watching the scenes fly by and elicit the same reaction reading the novels would have.  And the imagery?  Beautiful.  Scott Pilgrim was so visually striking I feel like it should be on display in a museum somewhere so people can really appreciate what Edgar Wright created.

But don’t think this is a one man show.  The entire cast came together to pull this beauty off including side-splitting performances from Chris Evans (one of the evil exes) and Kieran Culkin (Scott’s openly gay roommate).  Kieran actually is a scene stealer and plays a wonderful sidekick by announcing to Scott every time a fight will start.  But all the exes were unique in some way and all possessed a special quality that kept each battle unique and avoided repetition.  And how about Cera’s love interest Mary Elisabeth Winstead? That was interesting actually because there really wasn’t a lot of screen time spent towards garnering a relationship between Scott and Ramona.  It more or less just happens and that is the closest thing to a problem that this movie has.  That aspect will undoubtedly take some out of the movie, probably those going into the movie expecting your average “love story.”  Thankfully, Scott Pilgrim takes what we think as normal and turns it on its head.  Personally, I think that fact work well with how fast paced the entire film is and it just feels right that Scott and Ramona fall in love that way.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a film for my generation, with so many homages and references to the geekdom of today.  From video game sound effects being thrown in to villains being defeated and bursting into coins (Sonic!).  It feels like Wright created a movie, comic book, and video game all in one in fact.  And did I mention Beck wrote all of the music for Scott’s band?  I bought the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack because I was so entranced by the music, something I haven’t done in ages (Damn you Metric for creating one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard).  If you’re a real fan of the graphic novel’s you’ll notice some big points missing, like the exclusion of the whole subspace idea, but again Wright couldn’t include every single aspect and everything he did include turned out phenomenal.  Pilgrim is fast paced, non-stop, tremendously witty humor, full of action, and the perfect love story for my generation.  How does it get more romantic than fighting to the death for the woman you love?  As they say, “Love, it’s a mother f#@$er.”

Final Rating: 9.6 one-ups out of 10

Still think it’s just another Michael Cera movie?  That’s a flaming freakin’ sword!

-Natobomb

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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One Response to Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

  1. Pingback: 2010: Recap of the Good, the Bad, and Everything Else | Cinema Scrutiny

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