Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Weeks Too Late: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Directed by Edgar Wright. Written by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright.

Preconceptions: I know several very frightening fans of Scott Pilgrim (not the least of whom is Lipglosszombie over at Open and Shuttered). I was nail-bitingly worried I wasn't going to care for this flick and that it was all going to end in torches and windmills (again). As usual, I broke my own rule and read the source material before seeing a movie I intended to review and while I liked the comics alright, they didn't speak to me the same way they do to a lot of people I know. I figured the movie would be a similar experience and one that ended in a frightening mob.

General Review: I actually enjoyed this a whole pile more than I did the comics (which I suppose will get me a different frightening mob). Edgar Wright (as well as being surprisingly handsome for a director) kicked some serious ass in the directorial department. I can't remember the last time I saw something this experimental that was also so entertaining (mind, I shamefully haven't seen Inception yet). It's been a while since I've been able to freely gush about the directing of a film and say that it's more than simply competently made. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is far more than competent. Wright's ability to use editing to enhance comedy took some fairly funny material from the comic and made it hilarious. I figured the premise didn't really rate a two hour movie, but it didn't feel two hours long. The quick pacing also meant we were never mired in 20-something drama and were always moving forward.

But I mentioned experimental and the directing certainly was that. There was liberal use of words and sounds appearing on screen to make it look like more the comic. It evoked the different styles of games that informed the visual choices in the comic as well. The use of strong colours and stark black and whites also made it look more comic-like.

Most of the choices of what to cut and what to keep were excellent. We manage to hit most of the main points of a six digest comic in just one movie, without much having to be sliced for time. The bulk of the streamlining done made sense and, more importantly, I didn't feel like the movie was a mere book-end to the comic series. Unlike some other comic adaptations, you could easily see Scott PIlgrim vs the World without having any prior knowledge of the series. It wasn't just a nice piece to go along with the series, it stood on its own, made sense and was enjoyable. My only beef with the movie does lie in the story, however. Ramona (our female lead) is much more passive in the movie than she is in the comic. Rather than feeling like she's helping Scott fight his demons while he's helping fight her's, it comes off as extremely one-sided. Ramona stands almost entirely helpless and it irritated the ever loving bejesus out of me. I was kinda disappointed not to see the fight in the library between Ramona and Knives, but that's not a beef, I just thought it was a cool scene.

Ellen Wong (as Knives) utterly blew me away. She was adorable, funny, tragic and dangerous by turns and my favourite character by a country mile. I hope that I have the opportunity to see her in another flick soon. Michael Cera seemed like a strange choice to play the lead, given the hyperbolic highs and lows we watch Scott go through (and given that I still haven't seen him play a character that wasn't just Michael Cera). But I gotta say his sputtering, understated style worked well in the role.

I know there are at least some of you out there who (like me) were only lukewarm about the comic. If something is about people dealing with their boring relationship problems, I typically don't care a whit about it, either. Trust me on this: the Scott Pilgrim movie will make you forget that it's based on dull relationship stuff. It's oozing with charm, skillfully directed and very funny. Go forth and rent it.

Aside: If I hadn't just gone a wacky colour with my hair, this movie would have forced me to do so out of absolute envy of Ramona's hair.

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