Lincoln’s Movie Night: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The WorldScott Pilgrim vs The World

Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Jason Schwartzman and a whole mess of other awesome young actors.
Based on the graphic novel series
Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references.

So. Scott Pilgrim vs The World. We’ve been talking about it for months. Well, I have. The trailers are all over television. And the final volume of the series was released less than a month ago. It ended awesomely. So as a fan of both the books and Edgar Wright, I went into the film with high expectations.

I was not disappointed.

Right off the bat, Wright is playing with your conceptions of what this film is going to be. I won’t spoil it here (despite the fact that many reviewers already have), but if you’ve ever owned a video-gaming system you’re likely to chuckle to yourself. Then, with a blast of rock and roll and a quick introduction to characters (which is pretty much directly out of the first volume of the graphic novel), he takes us into one of the best opening credits sequences I’ve seen in a while, hinting, with quick flashes of color and illustration, at what we’re about to watch.

What this is, if you’ve somehow been living under a rock for the last six months or so, is the rock-roll-and-videogame influenced life of twenty-something slacker Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). Doing nothing with his life but playing in his band, Sex Bob-Omb, with Stephen Stills (Mark Webber, The Memory Thief) and Kim Pine (Alison Pill, The Pillars of the Earth), and dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong, in a bit of a breakout role), Scott’s life is changed when he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Live Free or Die Hard). When they begin dating it’s revealed that, to continue their relationship, he is going to have to defeat her seven evil exes.

Wright is an artist. When the first Evil Ex fight begins, reality goes out the window and we’re treated to a Street Fighter influenced battle of epic proportions which takes an unexpected (unless you’ve read the comics) left turn part way through. It’s a beautifully choreographed and shot piece of film, and the amount of time that the film spent in post-production is paid for, and then some, in these battles. Each of the fights is so unique and so visually stunning that you’re enjoying the spectacle on screen too much to feel rushed by the six boss fights squeezed into a two hour running time.

If the visuals are amazing, the sonic landscape created by this film is heavenly. I doubt that I’ve been to a movie in the last year that meshed music and imagery in such a perfect fashion. It might be that a large part of the story here deals with musical contests and cues, but Wright and composer Nigel Godrich have put together a movie with what one might term the perfect soundtrack. From Legend of Zelda samples to a brief sitcom interlude to the fifth/sixth ex battle (my personal favorite), Scott Pilgrim vs The World is populated by some of the best noise you’ll hear at the cinema. And it’s not just the score, as the musical selections are placed perfectly, with Broken Social Scene’s Anthems for a Seventeen year old girl and The Rolling Stones’ Under my Thumb being two of my favorite moments.

There are a few problems however. Some of the characters are underdeveloped, with Kim Pine, one of my favorites, almost entirely reduced to scowling and counting off the band. She does get in some excellent one-liners, but her back story, like many of the characters, has been reduced to hints and brief conversations. Ramona Flowers herself  is surprisingly underdone, with entire aspects of her character left out, and a major plot point about her character’s issues with ex Gideon (a brilliant Jason Schwartzman) reduced to a few short shots in the final act. However, gay-roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin) steals every scene he’s in with hilarious asides and insults. And a pair of Deus-Ex Machina characters share a moment that looks like an outtake from a movie they’re starring in parallel to this one.

My fears about Michael Cera were unfounded here. There are moments when he is doing his I’m-a-lost-puppy thing, but those are actually things that are a part of Scott’s character and fit the tone of the film. And he really steps up in the battles, channeling rage and looking as good doing wire work as Jet Li ever has.

Overall, the film is a success. It brings together video-game nostalgia, romantic comedy tropes, and elements of the musical in a melting pot of cool. There has been a lot of tension with critics over the thoughts that it won’t find a wide audience, and indeed, some of them are even taking the Twilight-route, insulting its “targeted” demographic in their reviews. However, if you go into the film with an open mind, you’re going to be entertained by a movie that has a big heart, a lot of power-chords and some of the best looking set pieces you’ll find this side of Hyrule.

Posted on August 13, 2010 at 19:54 by Lincoln Eddy · Permalink
In: Comics, Movies, Reviews · Tagged with: , ,