So before I start, you should know I really like Edgar Wright, video games, Scott Pilgrim and video games. This means I am effectively the target audience for this film and so I’m destined to like this film even if it was only slightly good. And it is good. Oh so good.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a new film from Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and based on a 6 issue set of comics by Bryan O’Malley. It follows the eponymous Scott Pilgrim, a twenty something slacker living in Toronto. One night while dreaming he sees Ramona Flowers, Amazon.CA delivery girl, and decides that this is the girl for him. However in order to date her, he must fight her 7 evil exes. The comics span are a really good read (translated: go buy them) with a great plot. Unfortunately, the film has taken one or two liberties with this story (partly due to the fact the final part wasn’t released during filming) which is slightly annoying especially as some of the cool scenes from the comics aren’t included. However these changes do help to make the film flow much much better even if it throws all down time out the window as it careens towards its epic finale.
It is also pretty funny. Part of this is the referential humour with defeated enemies turning to coins but more comes from just how terrible Scott is. His constant evasion of having to do difficult things is hilarious at some point, perhaps the best being his response to an old girlfriend turning up at his door unexpectedly. There are some other great lines (“You punched me in the boob”) of which only a few actually turned up in the trailer, always the sign of a good movie.
Scott Pilgrim has style coming out of the kazoo. From the graphic effects linked to many of the sounds to blacking out of certain characters dirty swearing mouth, it is obvious that the after effects guy had a a pretty big job finishing this film off. It also works perfectly (good job after effect guys!) and makes it look just like the comic in motion. Part of this look comes from the editing – snappy shots make parts of it feel like the panels of a graphic novel while it also has many shots that mirror the books themselves almost exactly, often with a split screen effect. But layered over the top of many of the scenes are the links to various games. At the start of most of the fights, “VS” signs pop up with Scott and the bad guy facing off as if this was Street Fighter. There are other references, such as Scott’s “Pee bar” or the ever present enemies exploding into a shower of coins as if this was a beat-em-up (you mean like the game?). One particular reference I liked was the fact that Scott spends most of the first half wearing a Plumtree shirt, as a song by the band inspired the main characters name. There are quite a few of these little references scattered throughout that will pull out a laugh when you notice them.
Part of this lrvrl style is also visible in the music. The various bands are all pretty good and the tunes are pretty catchy. By far the best is Scott’s Sex Bob-Omb, with its tunes being composed by Beck. I’m not normally a fan, but I picked up the soundtrack and love it. There is also a collection of other songs used but Brie Larson’s cover of Metric’s Black Sheep is an amazing and also the best in the film but unfortunately not on the soundtrack. There is also a pretty good use of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb”.
I’m also surprised by the cast. I’m not much of a Michael Cera fan, but as Scott Pilgrim he is perfect – a whiny git who is a little bit of a dick. Ramona is also a rather good match, being both distant from Scott yet also very protective, and is played by a rather attractive and talented Mary Elizabeth Winstead . The other members of Sex Bob-Omb are a great laugh, especially Kim Pine whose actress plays the role spot on, with just about the correct level of contempt for Scott’s character. However, the stars of the show have to be the main bad guy Gideon (played by a Jason Schwartzman who is the ideal slimy record producer) and Scott’s roommate (as played by Kieran Culkin). Both seemed to have had a lot of fun making this film. In fact there isn’t a single person I thought didn’t look like they were having a whale of a time. Look out for a pretty good cameo about half way through the film.
You can gauge a film from the response of the audience and the crowd at the showing I saw loved every minute. Rather than sitting in silence, they laughed at most of the jokes and cheered at some of the references, such as the various game sound effects. Even my Dad, who has never read the comics or really watched the other Edgar Wright films, loved it.
As other reviewers have said, Scott Pilgrim is the best video game movie ever, despite not actually being based on one. And even if you don’t like games that much (and can keep up with the break neck pace), you will probably still enjoy just the crazy special effects and the great story. I’m going to pick this up on DVD/Blu-Ray day of release.
If you’re wanting some more Scott Pilgrim, than there is the game currently out on PSN and XBLA. I’ll be reviewing it for TIMJ some point soon.