Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an absolute gem. I can’t think of a film that’s resulted in as fun of a time at the movies since, well, Edgar Wright’s previous work, Hot Fuzz. Wright is, without a doubt, the most inventive comedic voice working in cinema today, with three films that are endlessly hilarious, sharp-witted, culturally astute, and packed with ideas. Wright is unafraid to just throw stuff up on the screen and see if it works — and it almost always does, from the broadest of gags to the most esoteric.
He’s also a master at simultaneously embracing and deconstructing genre conventions — he did it with the zombie movie in Shaun of the Dead, the shoot-’em-up actioner in Hot Fuzz and now, with the comic book adaptation in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the film stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year-old guy who’s happily dating a high schooler (17-year-old Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong) and toiling away in unknown rock band Sex Bob-omb with friends Stephen Stills and Kim Pine (Mark Webber, Alison Pill). His world is turned upside down when the enchanting Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) rollerblades through his dreams and then into his real life.
But transitioning into a relationship with Ramona isn’t as easy as Scott may have thought (Knives’ heartbroken rage notwithstanding). Ramona has left her own trail of broken hearts, with seven of her exes (played by Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman, Shota Saito, Keita Saito and Jason Schwartzman) teaming up to take down Scott. Before he can be with Ramona, he’ll have to defeat each one, relying on a series of skills he may never have realized he had.
As expected, the action sequences dazzle with their mix of 8-bit-like effects and fantastic stunt work, but the film is so much more than video game battles. Right out of the gate, Wright displays a formal audacity with editing that elides time in a way that few mainstream films would feature.
He also packs nearly every frame with enough visual information to keep even the most astute viewers on their toes. The film is fast-paced from the get-go, but this isn’t mere ADD filmmaking — Wright’s too smart for that. The film’s not blisteringly fast-paced to keep viewers’ attention; it’s that way because there’s no other way to fit everything he wanted to in the film.
The Blu-ray Disc
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is presented in 1080p high definition with an aspect ratio of (mostly) 1.85:1, with quite a few temporary aspect ratio changes thrown in throughout the film. The visual presentation here is pristine, with every candy-colored dye job on Ramona’s head and comic book effect strewn in the air popping with amazing clarity and color consistency. Image sharpness never wavers and there isn’t a hint of any digital tampering. In scenes both highly stylized and naturalistic, the image shows tons of fine detail. The included DVD in the set shows off just how much of an upgrade this Blu-ray is.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track might be even more impressive, showcasing with aplomb the film’s impeccable sound design, its infectious soundtrack by Beck, Broken Social Scene and Metric (who provided the songs for the bands in the film) and the lovely score by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. The mix is incredibly active, with every channel getting an extensive workout, thanks to the bevy of sound effects, and presents a never-less-than clear, clean and well-balanced collection of sounds.
The Blu-ray release is packed to the gills with extras, with four different commentary tracks leading the way. The first features Wright with screenwriter Michael Bacall and O’Malley and the second is Wright with cinematographer Bill Pope, with the third and fourth featuring most of the principal cast split into two different tracks. Wright is a fantastic presence on commentary tracks — entertaining, informative and forthcoming — and either one with him is highly recommended.
Almost 30 minutes of deleted scenes are presented in HD, most of them expanding on scenes still in the film. Optional commentary by Wright accompanies them. There’s also a selection of alternate footage in SD that features alternate takes and edits.
A two-part making-of featurette runs close to an hour and features a lot of great footage of on-set antics, even if it’s not organized that well. There’s also a five-part pre-production featurette that’s a little more tightly organized, with sections on animatics, casting tapes and props. To delve even further into pre-production and production, there’s a series of video blogs from Wright documenting the process.
Other featurettes include looks at the film’s music with the bands that made it happen behind the scenes, several pieces on visual effects and stunts and the sound design.
The disc also features a blooper reel, an animated segment that reveals some of Scott’s high school days, full-length music videos for four of the film’s songs, selections from the TV-safe version that include some hilariously inexplicable dubbing choices, tons of image galleries and a bunch of trailers.
The film also has several different viewing options, including a subtitled trivia track and storyboard picture-in-picture. The set comes with a DVD of the film, which also contains a digital copy, if you are so inclined.
The Bottom Line
Scott Pilgrim will surely rank as one of my favorite films this year, and this release is pretty much perfect in every way.