Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fills a curious void in pop culture, in spite of its humble beginnings. It could be mistaken for merely a video game movie by some or a comic book movie by others, but this would be a sore mistake as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World effectively blurs and blends the story across different media to keep the audience riveted. It throws humor, poignant thought and boisterous fight scenes onto the screen so fast that it makes viewers feel as though they have ADD.
While “Scott Pilgrim” as a movie doesn’t make it a necessity to have read the comics, it certainly helps viewers consider the pleasant similarities and differences. Plucky every-geek Michael Cera takes the title role here and perfectly fits the character and then some.
The surprisingly charming, yet awkward character of Scott Pilgrim displays a wide range of feeling, from anger to elation to depression and confusion. Cera not only manages to nail this emotional cocktail perfectly, he makes the character really stand out.
The ensemble is large, with Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), Scott’s underage and doting girlfriend and several of Scott’s bandmates. Bipolar Stephan Stills (Mark Webber) on guitar and vocals, sour Kim Pines (Allison Pill) as the drummer and oblivious Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) make up “Sex Bob-omb.” Things seem to be moving along fairly typically for Scott in wintery Toronto as he’s pleasantly satisfied with his current relationship and his band is setting up for their first battle of the bands.
What throws a wrench into this contented situation is rollerblading, colorfully-maned interdimensional delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who ends up skating through Scott’s dreams and right into his life.
Their first real encounter constantly tiptoes the line between love at first sight and obsession, but eventually Ramona takes a shining to Scott, which doesn’t end up too well for Scott’s existing relationship.
Matters quickly get even more complicated when Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends (or exes) start showing up with the intent of controlling Ramona’s love life, which means taking Scott out of the picture. All seven of the exes (Chris Evans, Mae Whitfield, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman to name a few) fit the roles well and make it blatantly clear why their relationships with Ramona didn’t work out.
The battles between Scott and her evil ex-suitors are played out spectacularly, starting off like a cut scene out of a fighting game before the fists and notes start flying. While it’s not the first to do so, bits of informative text, power-ups and announcements appear throughout the movie like an actual game, as well as plenty of POW’s and BAM-type sound effects like those you’d see in a comic. The special effects found in the fight scenes are brilliant and sharply-animated to fit the action instead of taking over the scene, making every one of the duels between Scott and an evil ex a uniquely-enthralling experience.
Plenty of credit has to be given to both director Edgar Wright and “Scott Pilgrim” comic creator Bryan Lee O’Malley. Many of the lines, scenes and ideas come directly from the comic, with some shots showing panels right from the books. Edgar Wright succeeds in making these things not only effective, whether it’s for laughs or tears, but making them his own in this translation to a movie.
The consensus opinion has been that Scott Pilgrim is truly the first video game movie, very likely because it takes such a different twist on movies than traditional attempts. However, the sense of the aesthetics, humor and pacing seem to be aimed mostly at an audience that grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System, which will likely leave younger and older audience members confused unless they’re familiar with the concepts. Some of the snappy back-and-forth wit between characters in the first half of the movie also falls flat, but there are more than enough hilarious lines to make up for it.
Even if one can get past the pacing, the problem about this translation from the comic is that it’s basically trying to cram six books of plot into a 112 minute movie.
Side plots, minor characters and scenes that were charming in the comic book don’t have any room at all despite some being present, but this is excusable if the alternative was to make a Scott Pilgrim trilogy.
Not that it would be such a bad thing however, as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the best movies to be released this summer, if not this year. With its perfectly set cast, a great soundtrack, use of video game concepts and aesthetics tossed together in a masterful blend, this comic book translation will have many viewers wishing that the story could go on just a little longer.