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Film Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
In 2010, Edgar Wright released Scott Pilgrim vs. The World based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, Shota Saito, Keita Saito, and Jason Schwartzman, the film grossed $47.7 million at the box office. Placed on the short list for a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, the film was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film, the Satellite Awards for Best Art Direction and Production Design and Best Adapted Screenplay, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form. It won the Empire Award for Best Director and the Satellite Awards for Best Film – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Scott Pilgrim, a slacker in his mid-twenties, meets an American named Ramona Flowers and falls in love with her. However, in order to stay with her, he must defeat her seven evil exes. Yet, in doing so, he finds out more about himself than he ever figured.
Though the film was a box office failure and needed the support of DVD sales to make back its budget, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a very fun and interesting film. One aspect that it really has going for it is its visuals, stylizing the film to make it seem like that of a video game. This is seen heavily during the fight sequences, where the characters are seen making use of power-ups, as well as after the fights when Scott is seen as earning points for the exes that he beats. The visuals also make fun of some video game stylization as well, such as the time Scott is fighting Todd and after the latter punches the former through a wall, all that’s seen is a repeating letter “D” until it’s shown that Scott is playing the note on a bass. The visual style is also used plentifully in the humor, like the “pee bar” seen when Scott is using the restroom.
However, it’s not just the visuals that make the film look and feel like a video game. The entire plot does as well. It really becomes noticeable after Matthew Patel’s entrance and Scott starts fighting with the League of Evil Exes. Thought he film begins as a romantic comedy, albeit one that’s a little different than most, this point is where the film really turns into a fantasy action film. At that point, the film becomes less of a film with video game influences and more of a fighting game where the periods between the fights are the cutscenes and the fights are different levels. It really comes out following the fight with the Kataynagi Twins, where Scott is given an extra life and ultimately comes to a head when he uses it later on when he dies in his first fight with Gideon. His resurrection takes him after the cutscene that followed the Kataynagi twin fight, where Ramona left him and he quit the band. Furthermore, Ramona telling Scott about the chip on her neck after his death feels like a video game that gives a hint to the dead player. The reason Scott does better during his second fight with Gideon is because he’s learned what he needs to do and how he should go about doing it.
The differences between the two final fights really display how Scott grows as a character throughout the film. He starts off the film as a guy who’s quite a jerk, but still has redeeming qualities and his relationship with Knives is purely based on attraction as the two believe that all it takes is love for a relationship to work. Throughout the film though, he’s coming to realize that relationships based on affection aren’t going to work because there’s always going to be someone else that can bring about an infatuation, seen in how he immediately becomes smitten with Ramona and cheats on Knives with her. Ramona can see that he’s with her because of infatuation and that’s why she tells him that he’s another evil ex waiting to happen. It’s after Gideon kills Scott during the first battle and Ramona tells him that she’s under Gideon’s thumb because of the chip that Scott realizes a relationship needs affection as well as both parties being friends and having respect for themselves (neither of which Scott nor Knives had). It’s why he comes back and says he’s fighting for himself and his own self-respect. This character growth also allows him to apologize to Kim for his problems during their old relationship. Nega-Scott comes into play here as well, seeing as it’s a literal manifestation of Scott’s dark side and instead of fighting against it, he merely acknowledges it and makes peace with it.
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