Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie Review

Wait a minute, Scott Pilgrim? How does it relate to our UK Week event? Well, Canada is still technically a commonwealth of the United Kingdom, so if the Queen says “Jump”, Canadians like Scott Pilgrim, have to say “How high?”. They even have the Queen in their money! It’s true, you can ask Kirk.

Anyway, on top of that I was finally able to watch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie while I visited London, since it still hasn’t come out in Spain where I live. By now we all know that Scott Pilgrim bombed in the American box office, and I am probably the last person on the blogosphere to see it, but you are still getting a review of the film. Hit the jump to see it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Movie

Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and more

Let’s get the first thing out of the way: this movie may have underperformed in it’s opening week in the United States, but I went to see this in England, three weeks after it premiered, and the theater was half full (or half empty, if you are that kind of person). To my surprise, most of the audience that showed up to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was well past their 20’s, and most of them looked like perfectly adjusted adults. The myth that this movie is only for young hipsters did not show up at my movie theatre, and the people in it laughed all the way through the film.

In case you have been hiding under a stone all this time, the plot of the movie involves Scott Pilgrim attempting to date Ramona Flowers. To do so, he must confront her seven evil exes who have organized themselves into a league, not to mention his own insecurity, and even old flames. Edgar Wright amazingly condenses six books worth of content into under two hours of fast paced, furiously funny and visually striking movie going experience.

What I appreciated the most about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is that it managed to be extremely faithful to the tone of the books, if not always the content. There’s scenes, such as the first fight with Matthew Pattel, that take place almost exactly as they did in the books, while others are changed considerably. At no point does it feel that it betrayed the original material, but rather that it focused it on a different direction, or through a different lens. Easter egg’s abound for fans of the book, and most of your favorite lines probably made it into the film, although maybe not in the same scene. There’s new jokes and scene thrown into the mix, and they never feel out of place, perfectly blending in with the established material.

The most noticeable changes from the plot of the original books come at the final act, which is understandable considering that the movie started filming before the sixth chapter in the series had come out. The final outcome is generally the same, but the path taken to get there is different. That being said, the appearance and confrontation with NegaScott takes on a completely different but infinitely funnier turn. It’s a neat twist, and I particularly liked how it was foreshadowed early in the movie.

The film is extremely dense, and at times visually overwhelming: everything in the screen crackles and explodes with energy at the drop of a hat, but that’s part of the charm. I can’t think of a movie quite like this one where anything can and does happen. Visual jokes, comic book flashbacks, fourth wall breaking scenes, and mind blowing action all sit perfectly fine next to each other in this movie. Even the music takes on a life of it’s own, taking center stage during the fight with Todd Ingram and later with the twins, not to mention the opening credits. The music is catchy as hell, and you will find yourself humming along to “Treshold”, because it’s just that damn good.

The acting is pretty good all around, and if I ever doubted Michael Cera as Scott, he won me over by the end of the movie. It was astonishing to see him change from his usual self-deprecating humor role to action star during the impressive fight scenes. The evil exes are perfectly cast, and I would probably watch a spin off movie about Chris Evans as Lucas Lee. Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells (Scott’s gay roommate) steals every scene he is in, even when he is unconscious. If there’s one weak link in the whole movie, it’s probably Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona who comes across as particularly cold through the movie, only coming back to life in the fight with Roxy. Honorable mentions go to Ellen Wong as Knives Chau for her charming performance and Alison Pill as Kim Pine, who honestly deserved a bigger role, but did plenty with what she had.

If there was one scene that did not work for me, it would have to be when Scott came back from a date and was talking to Wallace. The scene in question was shot in style similar to a sitcom show, complete with canned laughter added. It wasn’t a particularly bad scene, just one that didn’t gel well with the rest of the movie. Or maybe it’s my hate of canned laughter. Just a small blip in an otherwise fine and entertaining movie.

Verdict - Must See. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the perfect comic book movie, where the director did not chain itself to the books, but it was still faithful to the source while adding it’s own sensibilities into it. Action, romance, and comedy all wrapped into once, Scott Pilgrim punches you directly into your optic nerve with it’s stylized look and perfectly choreographed action scenes, and it doesn’t let up until the end. You’ve probably seen it already, but it definitely deserves a second watch, and I know I’m going to buy the DVD when it comes out.

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twobitspecialist said...

I still don't understand why this movie bombed. I blame it on bad marketing. "An epic of epic epicness." Before I ever found out what this movie was about, I thought it was another stupid nonsensical movie like Napoleon Dynamite. Just by the tagline alone.

Also, I never thought this was geared to young hipsters. If anything, I think people that grew up in the '90s would appreciate this movie to its fullest.

Patrick said...

I haven't read any of the book, but I saw the movie and loved it. However, I almost didn't go. It thought it would be for the younger, ADHD generation. I'm in my mid-30's. I wonder how many people also thought that, though, and didn't take a chance like I did.

Mike said...

I agree with pretty much everything said there.

I think one of the aspects the movie did perhaps a little too well was with Knives. In the comic I was pretty much behind Scott all the way with his pursuit of Ramona. In the film I felt Ellen Wong did such a great job and was just so likable that I got a little upset when Scott dumped her.

Mike said...

I agree with pretty much everything said there.

I think one of the aspects the movie did perhaps a little too well was with Knives. In the comic I was pretty much behind Scott all the way with his pursuit of Ramona. In the film I felt Ellen Wong did such a great job and was just so likable that I got a little upset when Scott dumped her.

Daryll B. said...

Mike and Matt, I totally concur with your views on the movie.. and I went in with a dislike of Scott Pilgrim, mostly because of a few of his overbearing fans. I thought the movie was well done and gave it 7.5 out of 10.

My major problems were that I liked Knives much more than Ramona.. on all levels. I truly did not feel the love between Scott and Ramona that would spark sure a quest. I felt more love between Holmes and Bale in Batman Begins, and people hated all over that. Cera played Scott to a tee.. but dude is a jerk and in these movies I need someone to personally root for. I had the same problem with Kick-Ass. My last problem is that they put all 7 exs in this one movie... it was almost like they knew it would bomb out...

Also because of this, I don't want to hear audiences who loved this complain about 2-3 villains being in other superhero movies like Spider Man 3 and X-Men 3 saying that it is "too many" to focus on.

All in all, I loved Routh, Evans, the first ex, Wong, Cullen and the soundtrack (come on Metric and Beck.. that's some chops right there THEN they threw in The Black Lips..COOL) and tolerated Cera and Ramona.

Glad you liked it Matt and thanks for the review.

Matt Duarte said...

@Daryll: Yeah, the fact that the movie bombed makes me glad that they decided to put all exes in one movie, otherwise we would have probably gotten stuck with only half the story.

Terrell R said...

I thought this was probably the most enjoyable movie I watched this year. Not the best mind you, but just the most entertaining. I loved the music and the visual effects weren't overpowering really.

Cera was actually not half-bad. He was the only reason I almost didn't get this movie a shot.

I agree with all of the sentiments expressed here about Knives and Ramona.

Naymlap said...

I can sympathize Matt, the movie hasn't come out in Peru either. Hell I can't even get my hands on a bootleg copy.

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