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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

August 11, 2010

I have a confession before I go through with this review: I’m obsessed with Scott Pilgrim. There’s Trekkies, Otaku’s, Gamers, and then there’s this decades newest batch of fans, the Scottaholics and yes I am one of them. Release parties for the 6th book, group discussions, events centered around all things Scott Pilgrim, yep I’ve done it all. That being said I’ve tried to keep my expectations low on the film’s likeness to the series for the sake of preventing devastation like many fans experienced with The Last Airbender.

However I was fully prepared to trust Scott Pilgrim vs. the World based on the fact that cinematic genius Edgar Wright had his hands in the jar, awkward idol Michael Cera was playing Scott Pilgrim as well as Jason “Cool Ethan” Schwartzman was playing the films ultra-smooth villain and within the first 10 minutes of watching Scott Pilgrim I knew my trust had not gone in vain. Wright took the series and basically used it as a storyboard to create an impressive live-action film that utilizes the style of the Scott Pilgrim series to create a enjoyable cinematic experience.

Set in the nether regions of Canada, Scott Pilgrim is a 22-year-old slacker who’s attempting to mend a broken heart by dating 17-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). When they’re not discussing her high school drama or playing DDR, Scott spends his time playing bass in a mediocre band Sex Bob-Omb. Life’s pretty comfortable in the world of Scott Pilgrim until he has a strange dream of a girl roller skating in and out of his mind, a girl he sees even when awake. After meeting and stalking his dream girl, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the two embark on a relationship only for Scott to discover that dating Ramona comes with a catch: he has to defeat her evil ex-boyfriends. All seven of them. Determined to keep his beloved dream girl, Scott takes on the challenge and cans of whoop ass are opened all through the film.

While the plot may initially sound corny, Wright’s directing and screenplay allows the film to play out just as hilariously and intelligently as Bryan Lee O’Malley did with the series. Unlike previous comic/graphic novel films that attempt to recreate the story shot by shot and rely heavily on CGI to give the film an authentic comic “feel” such as 300 and Sin City, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World takes a different approach. It instead entwines Wright’s personal style of quick fluid camera movements and fast paced smash cuts with the series’ sarcastic, stream of consciousness, hybrid genre style.

Instead of using CGI to create elaborate fantastic backgrounds, Wright uses it to spell out onomatopoeias, emphasize the comic elements, and heighten the versatility of fight scenes, one of the most impressive aspects of the film. Wright shoots from nearly every angle possible to capture the full feeling of each fight from the vegan superpowers of one villain, the ninja-like abilities of another, and the choreography of yet another – that’s right there is a dance sequence. Wright masterfully plays with time and space through editing by having conversations take place between characters in one location followed by an edit changing the scenery and time frame with continuing dialogue keeping up the pace of action for the film.

Each actor is impressively cast and portrayed with Michael Cera honing his awkward charm to portray the awkwardly charming Pilgrim, Kieran Culkin as Scott’s alluringly promiscuous gay roommate Wallace, and Mary Elizabeth’s as the dry mysterious Ramona. The rest of the supporting cast like Aubrey Plaza as the bitchy Julie Powers, are equally notable to Scottaholics but may not be anything more than undeveloped characters with humorous one-liners to others.

Thus leading to the problem of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World; it’s pacing. With a running time of 112 minutes, the movies packs together all seven fights, something that took the series six books to do. Such compression doesn’t allow viewers to fully connect with the characters and understand the dynamics of their friendships and relationships and why Scott is putting himself through hell for this girl he just met.

However the film is still enjoyable for all ages and for fans of the series it stays as close to the story as a film that compacts six books into one movie can be. Everything about this film is done well including the soundtrack which features Broken Social Scene and music-god Beck using their skills to recreate the series grungey fake bands, Sex Bom-Omb and Crash and the Boys. While Scott Pilgrim vs. The World doesn’t top the series it’s a plesant continuation of the franchise and a great fun summer film for those new to the story.

SEE IT. Then (re)read the series and see it again.

Jason and Michael stopped by and gave us ATLiens the weather forecast for the week.

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