Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Review

What? A movie review on the day it's released? And I still haven't reviewed Inception despite seeing it last month? Well, it's here! Edgar Wright's adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-part comic book series, Scott Pilgrim, is finally here! Does film live up to all the hype and comic fans' expectations? Or is this just another comic franchise that should have been left on the pages?

If you don't know by now (then you obviously don't visit often) the story of Scott Pilgrim follows the titular "hero" who recently starts dating a 17 year old girl, Knives Chau, too get over his previous break up but is soon taken back by a new girl in town that visits him in his dreams, Ramona Flowers. But there's one hitch to dating Ramona, in order to stay with her, Scott must defeat her Seven Evil Exes, or DIE!

Generally the film sticks to the story of the six books (despite the finale book, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, not being written prior to filming) however, because it's an adaptation of six comics in one film (and not one movie per book like some other film franchises) there's obviously a lot of edits done to the story. For one, the story doesn't span years like in the books (no birthday for Scott), characters like Lisa Miller or anyone over the age of 30 are completely absent from the film, and some of the Evil Ex battles are altered from their original forms. And what was cool, but only used twice, was for flash-backs, instead of using younger actors to portray the characters, actual scenes from the book were used, with O'Malley's drawings applied to animation which was cool, and some of his art work appears elsewhere in the film as well.

But it's not just seeing O'Malley's drawings on screen that makes this feel like Scott Pilgrim, but all the little visual cues are there as well; like the black dialogue boxes with character commentary, or visual sound effects that are ripped right from the books themselves. Aside from adapting Bryan Lee O'Malley's work and style though, is the other major element of the film, Edgar Wright. Despite the lack of any Brits in the film (though I hoped Pegg and Frost would cameo as the Vegan Police; there's another cameo instead, a surprising one actually...) and the lack of excessive blood, which was a staple to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World still feels very much like an Edgar Wright film, which is a good thing. Heck, if it wasn't for the need to move on from conversation scenes and into effects heavy action, I'd say this wasn't too far off from Spaced.

The other thing was character portrayal. Going into this, I was really unsure if Michael Cera could actually pull off not being Michael Cera, but having seen the film now I'm actually pretty pleased with his 'performance'. He really gets to step out of his shoes during the numerous fight scenes in the film, but there are parts where he just gets to be himself, which is unfortunate. Kieran Culkin definitely steals the show as Wallace Wells, and I really enjoyed Alison Pill as Kim Pine, but she doesn't get the same focus like she does in the books which gave me the sadface. But it wasn't all great, despite Mary Elizabeth Winstead being quite appealing to the eyes, her performance as Ramona was really under-developed and the character just came across as really dry and unlikeable, which isn't like the comics at all.

As for the rest, most of the Evil Exes were great, especially Chris Evans and Brandon Routh (Captain America vs. Superman OMFG!!!), but I could do without Jason Schwartzman as Gideon. Hell, to be honest, the whole ending with Gideon was pretty weak when compared to the comic's ending, and I wasn't even too big on that when I first read it.

Overall, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a good film, and it's one of the first films outside of video game adaptations that really speaks to the people that grew up with games, but also gets a few other pop-culture references in there. As a fan of the books however, I have to say that I like them better, because I already have a preconception of what's going to happen and a deeper feeling for the characters that I just didn't get out of the film's two-hours. So having said that, it's hard to say what non-fans will get out of this film, but if you're a gamer, a fan of music [the soundtrack is awesome], or humor, or Edgar Wright, I suggest you give this film a watch. And if you even semi-like what you see, pick up the books and get a better experience afterwards.

Overall Score: 8.8/10

Craving more? Check out my reviews of the Scott Pilgrim books by Oni Press: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6! [Contains spoilers!]

I will also be reviewing the recently released video game at some point this week as well!

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