Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: An Epic review of epic
I've been working my way through the Scott Pilgrim series, which is probably one of my favorite comic book series to date (and I've only gotten through vol.3!) . When I heard that the movie based on the comics was coming out, on my birthday no less, I had to go see it.
Well, I have, and I can now say that "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is awesome!The story revolves around 22-year old Toronto slacker/amateur bass player Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), who at the opening of the movie is dating innocent 17-year old high school student Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). However, when a fascinating girl with purple hair skates through his dreams, and then he sees her in reality, Scott is enthralled. Somehow managing to persuade the impossibly cool Ramona Flowers to give him the time of day, Scott begins to think he's having the good life.
And then he starts getting attacked by random psychotics with super powers. These are the League of Evil Exes, organized by Ramona's previous ex, the deliciously smug Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzmann). Luckily, Scott lives in a universe which runs on video game rules, so he himself has some impressive fighting skills that come pretty much out of nowhere. So now the aimless slacker has a goal, but can he defeat the League?
My greatest concern going into this movie was Michael Cera. Although Cera has played dorky awkward characters before (it's basically his trademark), he's also usually played fundamentally decent ones as well. And the truth is, the Scott of the comics is kind of a dick, admittedly through thoughtless absent-mindedness rather than intentional malice, but a dick nonetheless. I was happily surprised that Cera was able to take this aspect of the character's personality and really run with it, seeming both sweet and careless. He also has amazing comic timing, and I really found him to have honestly evolved over the course of the movie. The Scott at the beginning of the film is not the same Scott who ends it.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead was good as Ramona. She seemed a bit too cold at first, making it a bit hard to believe that Scott would have been able to get past her icy facade, but that does make sense in character. Other reviews I've seen complain that Ramona is too passive a character, or that it's hard to get into her head, but I personally found her fascinating enough to carry the movie. And in scenes when she does become the active one (such as when she whips out a giant hammer to fight off one of the exes herself), I found her enthralling.
The minor characters are all great too. Each of the exes gets their moment to shine (although a pair of techno-music playing Japanese twins probably get shafted the most, as they never even deliver a single line of dialogue), my particular favorite being Brandon Routh's rock musician who gains super powers from his veganism. Of Scott's friends, Alison Pill, Kieran Culkin, and Anna Kendrick, playing Scott's ex-girlfriend/bandmate, gay roommate, and sister respectively, each steal every scene they're in. I especially liked how Kendrick and Culkin were able to work off each other to create some of the most funny scenes in the entire movie. Finally, Ellen Wong as Knives Chau was adorable, easily the most sympathetic character in the entire movie. Her scenes were a perfect mix of funny, sad, and ridiculously amazing.
I really liked the style of this movie. It never seems strange when this movie shifts from being a typical indie romance to full-blown martial arts fights with baddies exploding into showers of coins when defeated. I loved that the movie kept from the comic explanatory captions that gave us basic information about the characters we encounter, for instance "Scott Pilgrim. Age: 22. Rating: Awesome." It was also cool that sound effects appeared as text on the screen, which really allowed the movie to show that its roots in the comic while simultaneously transcending them.
I felt that this was a pretty good adaptation of the comic book series, given that it took 6 volumes and condensed them into a 112 minute movie. Some of the actions are moved around, minor characters' backstories are trimmed (I kind of wish there could have been more about Scott's own evil ex Envy, as I felt that made the conflict in the third comic all the more interesting), and as I mentioned above some of the exes are trimmed down a bit (although interestingly the second evil ex actually gets more screen time than he did in the comic). Overall, however, the movie is able to preserve the spirit of the comic rather well, which makes sense as Bryan Lee O'Malley was apparently quite involved in the making of the movie.
Anyone who loved the Scott Pilgrim comic should go watch this (then again, anyone like that has probably seen it by now). Anyone else who loves video games, comic books, awesome comedy, Canada, general nerdiness, rock music, martial arts, or kickass romances should definitely check this movie out, and then go find the comics to read, because they are all amazing.