It would be hard for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to turn out dull. With Edgar Wright behind the camera, the man who brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, expectations were certainly high for the film.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name (which many claimed was unfilmable source material), the film stars current Hollywood obsession, Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno) as well as some other up and coming actors and actresses like Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman and Kieran Culkin.
The hype leading up to the film’s release has been abundant. Everyone seems to be talking about it, including people in the industry. Famed director Kevin Smith was quoted as saying:
“It’s spellbinding and nobody is going to understand what the fuck just hit them. I would be hard pressed to say, ‘he’s bringing a comic book to life!’ but he is bringing a comic book to life.”
There has been buzz surrounding the film for a while now and Edgar Wright certainly has some big expectations to live up to. Being one of the last blockbusters of the summer, there is a lot riding on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Now that we’ve seen it, we’re here to tell you if it deserves all the hype it’s receiving. Is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World really the be all and end all or is it just another Snakes on a Plane? (a film once heavily surrounded with hype but ultimately a film that was soon forgotten after its release).
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22 year old living in Toronto. He can probably be described best as a bit of a doofus but nonetheless still likeable. Although he doesn’t have a real job, he plays guitar with his friends Stephen Stills (Mark Webber), Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) and Kim Pine (Alison Pill) in their band Sex Bob-omb (a reference to Super Mario Bros).
Scott already has one bad relationship in his past and his current girlfriend is Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a 17 year old. Aside from constantly being ridiculed for dating a high school girl, Scott seems happy in the relationship. That is until he meets the girl of his dreams.
Enter Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). In Ramona, Scott has found the love of his life. Eager to pursue his new found love, Scott sets out to win her over. He approaches her with the classy pickup line: “You know Pac-Man?” to which she replies: “I know of him”. That best sums up how smooth Scott is with girls.
Determined to make things work, Scott doesn’t give up when he’s first blown off. After making another effort, and this one somewhat valiant, he gets his first date with her and the two soon start to form a relationship.
There’s just one problem, Ramona has seven evil exes who are determined to get in Scott’s way. These evil exes don’t just want to stop Scott, they want to kill him. If Scott wants to win over Ramona’s heart, he must first defeat her seven exes which is no easy task.
The League of Evil Exes is as colorful as a group can get. We have Chris Evans as a punk movie star who does his best Eastwood vocal impersonation, Jason Schwartzman who takes his role as the megalomaniac record producer a bit too far, Brandon Routh as a pretentious vegan rock star and a few others who all make for a great supporting cast. The League of Evil Exes is one of the best parts of the film. Each ex makes for a very entertaining character and the performances that drive them are all very strong.
We never know why Scott must battle Ramona’s evil exes and there is never any intelligible explanation for any of the events that transpire here but who cares? Wright’s target market certainly doesn’t and I guess that’s all that really matters.
As Scott faces each of the exes, the fights are staged like video games a la Street Fighter style and whenever Scott defeats an evil ex, the ex bursts into a pile of coins. Sometimes Scott even gets a points bonus or an extra life.
The fights are one of the more interesting parts of the film. The participants perform outlandish high flying moves as the screen is filled with graphical effects. Split screens, quick edits, sounds that come complete with their own illustrative words and more than enough flashy lights make the whole thing somewhat dizzying. Although neat at first, these fights border on ‘gimmick’ territory and by the end of the film it becomes, dare I say, repetitive?
Clearly hoping to strike a chord with the youth in society, Wright throws more than enough pop culture references into the film but manages to get away without drowning the characters in pop culture diversions. That being said, there are a daunting amount of references and they’re so frequent that you’d be hard pressed to catch them all on your first viewing.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has a very unique visual style to it. Cinematographer Bill Pope helps Wright deliver a visual knockout of a film. The best way to describe the visual style that Wright creates would be the following: a giant mashup of magna, video games, music videos and comics all coming together to meet real life. It’s certainly refreshing and unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Some scenes have so many effects and cuts that we start to fear a seizure is just waiting to be triggered. It’s easily the most frenetically paced movies I’ve ever seen. Wright also uses a lot of scene connecting pans and wipes that are just downright jarring at times. He brings the film’s ADD style editing to an almost insufferable level at some points and it gets a bit too frenetic. It’s like an assault on your senses and it can become almost exhausting at times. To put it frankly, on a visual level, the film is absolutely nuts.
One thing that you’ll notice about the film is that it is seriously funny. Most of the gags work really well and even the ones that don’t are soon forgotten due to the film’s rapid pace. I found myself laughing out loud at many parts and there were a ton of instantly quotable lines.
That being said, there are moments when Wright is in danger of overdosing on his own quirkiness and after a while you may start to feel like things are being taken too far. A couple of parts are just too strange for my liking. The Seinfeld scene is way too out there and the musical number within a fight scene within a musical number just left me scratching my head.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World comes complete with a pretty awesome cast. The film really benefits from the young and talented actors and actresses that Wright has chosen. Everyone in the cast does a great job and they all help to keep the film feel exciting and entertaining.
Michael Cera literally always plays the same character, it’s the truth, you can’t deny it. The kid doesn’t have much range. To be honest though, it doesn’t really matter, it works well in all his films and it works exceptionally well in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
His comedic timing is flawless and his awkwardness makes his scenes all the more entertaining. The only complaint I have is that the romance between Cera and Winstead never feels authentic. It’s tough to believe that Cera’s character would even have the guts to be with her in the first place.
Ellen Wong, who plays Knives Chau is seriously a good casting choice. Whoever found her should be rewarded as she provides some of the film’s funniest moments. She plays the part so well that you’ll almost completely forget the fact that she has minimal acting experience.
The scene stealing Kieran Culkin plays Wallace Wells, Scott’s snarky gay roommate. Like Wong he shines in all his scenes and is very very funny. I’m really hoping to see Culkin and Wong get a bit more exposure after this film.
Lastly, there’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead who plays Ramona. Winstead is fairly confident in her role but as I noted before, the romance between her and Cera never feels real. The two never click and there’s never any real chemistry. She also gives off an almost enigmatic vibe which made it hard to connect with her. That being said, Winstead still does a fine job and offers a solid performance.
As stated before, the supporting cast does a great job also. From Webber, Pill and Simmons who play Scott’s friends to Anna Kendrick who plays his sister Stacey, and of course the seven evil exes, everyone is at the top of their game. The cast was perfectly chosen and they really made the film a treat to watch.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World gives us a fresh, exciting film that is just what we needed in a summer full of such drab movies. Wright manages to connect with his target audience as he goes down a quirky road, one that we’d see in a Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman film. He creates a film that truly has a little something for everyone. Implementing a unique visual style, Edgar Wright crafts a dazzling, entertaining and surprisingly charming summer blockbuster.
While Scott Pilgrim vs. The World doesn’t turn out to be the perfect film that many had hoped for, it does manage to offer a very stylized film that stays true to the source material. Shrouded in originality and oozing with wit, Wright successfully creates what is easily one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year.
His wildly imaginative vision and inspired direction keeps things feeling fresh and it all makes for a pretty great viewing experience. While it’s a bit much at times, almost dizzying at certain parts, one things for sure, there’s never a dull moment in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And for that alone, it’s worth a watch.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is refreshing, unique, wildly entertaining and consistently funny. I haven't had this much fun while watching a movie in a long, long time.