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Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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Despite being based on a comic book, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may very well be the first movie to successfully and effectively translate the atmosphere of the video game world to the big screen. 

Director and co-writer Edgar Wright has taken one of the most unique comic book series out there and turned it into one of the most unique movies out there.. maybe ever. It really is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen before.

The film follows the titular Scott Pilgrim, a 20-something bass player with relationship problems. While going out with a 17-year old Chinese schoolgirl named Knives Chau (seriously – it’s THAT kind of movie) he meets Ramona Flowers and falls in love.

They start to date as a result of Scott’s annoying persistence and things go well for a little while. But Scott unfortunately finds out that if he’s going to be with Ramona then he has to defeat her seven evil exes who are hell bent on stopping Scott from dating Ramona.

Contained within one hilariously over-the-top package is the kind of visual flourishes and hipster language that hits you in the face like a sledgehammer (subtlety isn’t exactly Scott Pilgrim’s style) but those things work to further the story. On the surface it may seem that all the wild visuals and whatnot are just there for effect but they all play a legitimately integral part in the story, such as the evil exes turning into coins that Scott has to collect once he’s defeated them or a “1-up” life literally appearing next to his head for him to grab. It has the kind of sarcastic, knowing humour that may not be to everyone’s taste but those who get it will really get it. 

But that’s just the problem when it comes to the potential success or failure at he box office. This is not a wide appeal movie, even though it has huge special effects, plenty of action and a known face in the lead role. That certainly isn’t a knock on the movie, far from it – I LOVED this movie. But it’s very niche in just about every respect but that’s okay. Movies like this will always find its key audience and they will cherish it fervently.

This is Wright’s first film without his comedy partners Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who both worked with him on his first two movies, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Wright showed with those two features that he’s got a certain flair for on-the-ball visuals and whip-sharp humour and that is carried over and turned up to 11 with Scott Pilgrim. This is the movie that will show Hollywood what he’s made of and I can see him going on to have a very prolific career.

He brings a certain inventiveness and originality to the proceedings, with the back-and-forth dialogue being just as entertaining (if not more so) than the outlandish action sequences. The latter scenes may get a tad repetitive by the time we get to about fourth or fifth evil ex but it’s just so much fun that I didn’t really care that it was a bit “samey.”

The cast is just one of the many delights to be found here: Michael Cera has become boring for the most part, with his awkward-teen routine wearing thin soon after Juno. However, much like his recent role in Youth in Revolt, Cera sprouts his acting wings and brings something likeable and very watchable to his role here. He’s not bad at the action scenes either.

Supporting him are the likes of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona), Brandon Routh (Evil Ex no. 3), Chris Evans (in a hilarious turn as a cheesy action hero and Evil Ex no. 2) and the ever-brilliant Jason Schwartzman (as Evil Ex no. 7). All the actors play everything with a straight face which just makes the movie all the funnier.

In this summer of forgettable action movies, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World offers something different, something unique and, yes, something special. See it, support it, champion it. Believe me it deserves every heap of that praise it’s getting.

 

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About Ross Miller

  • Dick

    Great piece on a great movie. I just wanted to chime in about the “samey” issue. There is a copious amount of repetitive video games out there that only vary mildly throughout (Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, heck – even the whole Mario Bros. franchise). They did an impressive job at keeping each one just that much more original; The “Bass Battle,” the twin dragons vs. the Beast, and speeding through “Level 7″ the second time are each incredible examples.

  • David Watts

    Hey Ross
    I watched a great film the other night.
    “21 Grams”. Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts.
    Downloaded it off iTunes.
    Knowing you are a film expert i thought i’d mention it to you.
    Cheers
    David.