Friday, September 10, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim

  • Released Internationally on 13/08/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 15/09/10

In a nutshell

Scott Pilgrim is something of a loser. Yet he somehow manages to woo the eccentric and mysterious Ramona Flowers, who recently moved to his Toronto neighbourhood from the US. Things start of promisingly, but he then meets the ‘League of Evil Exes’. He must defeat all seven, if he is to win her hand. Fight!

Scott Pilgrim's precious little life

Based on the six-volume comic book, the film opens much like many other teenage romantic comedies we've seen recently. Scott plays bass in a band, which he admits are terrible. He also has a rather platonic relationship with a girl quite younger than him. Then a dyed-hair mystery girl starts rollerblading through his dreams, and after bumping into her at a party, he becomes obsessed. He manages to find out where she works, and asks her out, but what he doesn't find out about is her chequered romantic history.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the universe

Suddenly, the films roars into life. Much like the trailer (see below), the transition is impressive and very welcome. When the first evil ex-boyfriend comes crashing through the ceiling during a battle-of-the-bands gig, we quickly shift gear from romantic comedy to full-blown videogame action, although the romance and the comedy thankfully stick around. Admittedly, there are a few hints early on, such as the wonderful pixelated 'Universal' logo that opens the film, complete with PC-soundcard music instead of the usual glorious orchestra. But as the film progresses, the line between film and videogame continues to blur, with wonderful, exciting results. Whether picking up an extra life in Super Mario style or gaining points and powers as the exes are defeated, the Gameboy style of the action helps hide Scott's physical inferiority, and adds colour and panache to the film.

Scott Pilgrim2

Scott Pilgrim and the infinite sadness

It's not all smooth and slick however. The over-stylized fights and action might put large chunks of the audience off, while for those who head in yearning for the end-of-level-baddies, the film takes some time to take off. The ending could have been trimmed a little too, although the climactic end duel deserves all the screen-time it gets. Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno) might also be an issue - he tends to polarise audiences, so if you despise him it might ruin the film for you. I don't mind him, and I think he fits this role perfectly. He is irritating and wimpy and neurotic, but that's what the role calls for.

Scott Pilgrim gets it together

Besides the titular character, the film boasts an impressive cast playing an array or colourful characters. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof, Live Free or Die Hard) is arresting as the object of affection that causes all this trouble. She doesn't look like much at first, but she manages to make us realise why Scott would bother so much. Kieran Culkin (Macaulay's brother) has a brief but amusingly snide role as Scott's gay roommate, and rising starlet Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air, Twilight) occasionally offers condescending advice as Scott's sister. The exes all have looks and back-stories of their own, with Chris Evans (The Fantastic Four, the upcoming Captain America) stealing the show as the hilariously egocentric actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee. Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) seems like one of the toughest ones to beat, with a combination of huge physique, bass-paying ability, and psychic powers earned by being vegan, and the final and most powerful ex is portrayed by a delightfully over-the-top Jason Schwartzman (Funny People, Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Scott Pilgrim's finest hour

The film is directed by Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead), who also helped adapt the comics. He is obviously having fun here, with lots of tricks and add-ons at his disposal to make the film sparkle and grab your attention. Thankfully the gimmicks aren't overused, and while they sometimes provide convenient plot shortcuts, they never replace the story or the characters. For no apparent reason at all, he even directs one post-date-discussion scene as if it was a scene from Seinfeld, complete with intro music and audience reactions. It's the sum of all these little crazy story and directorial pieces that make this film so colourful.

In the end

The word 'original' is often thrown about nowadays, including by yours truly in several reviews. But I can't think of any other film this year that deserves the description more than this one. It's not for everyone, but if you think you'll like it, you'll probably love it.


Trailers: (High-res QuickTime)

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