17 08 2010

I started playing video games when I was 3 years old. I remember clearly sitting in front of my grandma’s television playing Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo Entertainment System. (NES for those in the know)  I was pulled into the world of gaming and haven’t looked back since.  The reason I bring this up is because my experience playing video games plays a huge part in my enjoyment of this film. In my mind, there is still a little boy still sitting there and after seeing Scott Pilgrim VS The World that boy stood up and cheered.

Before I can give my opinion about the film, I have to set the atmosphere of the screening.  I was one of the lucky few that got to see the movie at a super secret screening while at Comic-Con 2010. The theater had a very cool art deco style that fit the feel of the evening.  The director, Edgar Wright, introduced the screening with most of the cast, so the mood was already high before the lights even went out.  So my overall opinion of the experience before the screening of course was fantastic.  But I can honestly say the amazing intro didn’t affect my opinion of the film itself.

Scott Pilgrim is a strange beast. The story is based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley and follows Scott as he battles for the love of Ramona Flowers against her seven evil ex-boyfriends amidst a slew of pop culture and video game references.  The film does a very good job in keeping with the spirit of the books and, in part, stays very faithful to the source material.  The only weak parts in the story for me were the rushing of some sub plots and the lack of development some characters get. Of course, I understood that certain events and characters from the books wouldn’t make it into the film. For people who didn’t read the graphic novels, it may not be a problem, but for me the characterization left out was a bit disappointing. Personally, my favorite part about the story is that beneath it all, it’s about becoming an adult and truly understanding love, but told in such a fantastical way.

One of the biggest questions on my mind going in was how Wright would handle the hyper reality, video game world. With the battles so over the top in the books, it seemed almost impossible to capture any other way. But I can honestly say that Edger Wright definitely delivers with the insane visual style.  The cinematography is outstanding and the visual effects are so well done they blend seamlessly into the story.  The video game art style comes complete with winks and nods to fans of the genre, which go over very well, though some may be lost on a general audience. The ones that get it will absolutely fall in love with this film.  The fight scenes are some of the best I have seen in years and you can clearly tell that Edgar Wright took his action experience with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and used it to make the big fights and set pieces really explode with life and fun.

The cast comes in and completely owns each role. Sitting here I can’t honestly think of a weak spot, direction was pitch perfect. Even though most people were worried about Michael Cera taking on the role of Scott Pilgrim, he nails the ultra hyper, A.D.D. type attitude that’s in the books and his action scenes are showstoppers. Cera stepped up in the film and it clearly shows. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Ramona Flowers and has this sweet chemistry with Cera that fits really well and plays her part to perfection with just the right amount of edge and softness that works so well. I only wish there was more time spent with her and Scott.

The supporting cast is really impressive. Mark Webber (Steven Stills), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Aubrey Plaza (Julie Powers) and Anna Kendrick (Stacy Pilgrim) all make this world so fun to be a part of and every moment they share the screen you can see how much enthusiasm and passion comes out of this young cast. The actor that truly steals the show is Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, Scott’s gay roommate and life guru. Kieran and Michael play so well off each other that every time the two share screen time it’s gold. It really shows how much fun Culkin had with the role and it makes everyone around him better for it.

A hero is nothing with out his villains and Scott’s are pretty damn good. All seven are fun and get great scenes that are memorable. Chris Evans portrays action star Lucas Lee, which is brilliant casting, as he nails the vibe of the character perfectly. Brandon Routh as evil ex #3, Todd Ingram, is a great fit and a blast to behold. But the main man here is Jason Schwartzman as final boss Gideon Gordon Graves. Schwartzman has supreme comedic timing and makes his short screen time some of the best.

Music plays heavily into the film and it’s outstanding. Ranging from 8-bit beats to punk rock, the score and music selected makes the movie move at a brisk pace and is the heart of the story.

Overall I have to say Scott Pilgrim vs The World surprised the hell out of me, in the best way possible. I had my reservations going in, I won’t lie, but coming out I was nothing but smiles. The story, action, style and music make such an achievement in art it’s hard not to appreciate it.  The passion brought by Edgar Wright and the cast and crew seeps off the screen and fills the theater with nothing but good feelings. Yes, there are some problems, like some characters getting less screen time and the final act moving a wee bit too fast, but in the grand scheme of things they are so minor compared to all the things the film does right. Even if you’ve never read the books (which you really should if you haven’t) that won’t stop you from enjoying it.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is a celebration of life, love, video games and music. A celebration that everyone is invited to and you don’t want to miss it.

– Jesse




One response

17 08 2010
Allan Stackhouse

I’m so glad we share such a high opinion of the film, Jesse!

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