Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Review
by Miguel Douglas on August 14, 2010
Scott Pilgrim’s life is so awesome. He’s 23 years old, in a rock band, “between jobs,” and dating a cute high school girl. Everything’s fantastic until a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, roller blading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. But the path to Ms. Flowers isn’t covered in rose petals. Ramona’s seven evil exes stand between Scott and true happiness. Can Scott defeat all seven of the bad guys and get the girl without turning his precious little life upside-down, before the game is over?
When it comes to many comic-to-film adaptations, not much can be said about authenticity. Character inadequacies, convoluted plots, and inconsistent pacing are flaws within many adaptations; with many failing to live up to the reputation established many of its fans, let alone hardcore fandom. To a lot of hardcore fans, little details mean a lot—and with many films opting to rearrange elements as they see fit, the obvious plundering doesn’t bode quite well with the fanbase. Fortunately, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has arrived to change all that. With that in perspective, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is perhaps one of the best comic-to-film adaptations thus far—seriously. As a personal fan of the comic series, the film lives up highly to its plethora of pop-culture references, video game surrealism, and exaggerated comical sequences all seemingly lifted directly from its source material—which is something quite remarkable in this day and age when it comes to such adaptations.
The film—very much like the comic itself—plays like a homage to the many elements that contribute to the world of modern geek culture. From Street Fighter-style duels, to outrageous musical sequences that quite literally pulsate with rhythmic vibrations, the film seems adherently focused on pleasing a niche audience—and certainly isn’t ashamed for doing so. What works extremely well here is that the film remains strangely humorous in light of the rather serious nature of the plot. While the battles within film can metaphorically be taking as expressing one’s inability to let go of the past, the excellent combination of humor, tragedy, and action all create one entirely dizzying experience. The high-frenzied pacing throughout its running time produces an outcome that will keep viewers tuned in for sure—but this could also be the film’s downfall as well. With the bustling pace of it all, the film’s many humorous references and comical pieces might slip by many not attune towards it pacing—in effect, the film might appear too fast for some. Similarly to the comic, the film is conveyed in such a capacity, but when transferred to film it might become somewhat daunting for some not accustomed to such an eccentric style of filmmaking. Those who enjoyed director Edgar Wright’s other two prominent films, Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) should feel right at home with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s extensive pacing and quirky humor.
What ultimately makes the film succeed though is its acting, which is great considering the source material was heavily used. While people might disregard Michael Cera for his talent as an actor, he takes the helm here and does a magnificent job. If anything, this role seems entirely his own, and it’s unquestionably his most diverse role yet and easily his most accessible for sure. While Cera is definitely the center of the film, the remainder of the cast does a fabulous job at bringing about some hilarious sequences present within the comic as well as much newly added material. For those not familiar with comic series, the characters are all distinctive enough to stand out and all reflect their comic book counterparts in considerable fashion, which sure to please longtime fans. Pretty much every character within the film gets their time to shine on the comical front, which produces an endearing cast—as well as many humorous one-liners. While the script is not entirely too complex, it does provide for a basic setup in which the presentation of the film can flourish in its own creative elements, in turn making up for the film’s minor narrative missteps.
Regarding the look of the film, director Edgar Wright provides a great aesthetic value that dominants the film from beginning to end. With frenetic battle sequences that illuminate the screen with vibrant carnage, to onscreen word placements reflecting that of a comic book, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is easily within the dimension of the irregular and delirious—all in a good way of course. The exterior look of the film is simply mind-blowing, and easily the best representation of a comic through film released yet, which is quite an accomplishment. While the film is fabulously entertaining aesthetically, the overwhelming nature of it might be too much for some to bear. For fans of the comic, again, this should be a pleasing experience, but for viewers who are more used to conventional filmmaking, the entirety of film might come as a shock. This is certainly not a bad thing, its just dependent entirely on viewing preferences. The kinetic elements still all remain very much original within the confinement of cinema, and many of the technical boundaries expressed within the film exceeded any functionality of being ordinary, I’m sure it will elevate the way we view cinema, especially future comic-to-film adaptations.
Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an outrageously fun film—mostly because it’s so aware of its intentions. Director Edgar Wright maneuvers the film with as much enthusiasm and excitement as any true fan of the series would, and with a script that adheres to the witty and snappy dialogue found in the source material, it’s comical timing is fantastic. With a videogame and comic infused feel, the film ultimately is poking fun at what it can showcase onscreen, which makes for a delightful cinematic adventure. Finally, with the main driving force of the film being delivered primarily by its cast, the film is promoted into the strange realm of a pure imagination—a place where normalcy is willingly absent, happily replaced with that of the extraordinarily creative. Surprisingly, this works out extremely well within Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and its exuberant atmosphere is quite the ode to geek fandom everywhere—which makes for a very, very pleasing experience.