Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Reviews
Being a young man still very much within the coming-of-age bracket, it is hard to me to say how good Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will look in ten years' time, when the gaming world has moved on and young people no longer talk like extras from Juno. All that can be said right now, four years on, is that this is one of the best coming-of-age comedies in a long, long time.
For starters, Edgar Wright has managed to make a film about video games which doesn't feel like a video game adaptation. The plot on paper does seem like a video game: defeat a series of bosses to win points and get the girl. But unlike, for instance, Tomb Raider, the film doesn't feel like you are watching someone else playing a game and expecting you to be interested. The fight sequences feel like natural continuations of the story, and the character development in-between is a damn sight more complex and insightful than the swathes of exposition in something like Silent Hill.
The film has an extraordinary visual style which is somewhere between Tron and Sin City. Like Tron, you feel at moments like you are inside a video game rather than just a spectator. And as in Sin City, the film retains a very literal comic book structure, albeit without the dull pomposity of Robert Rodriguez's film. The video game elements in both the design and content of the battles are used to complement and enhance the conflict; the powers gained and used by Scott and his foes do not become distracting goals unto themselves.
Like the comic it is based upon, Scott Pilgrim jumps from one form of reality to another without warning. There are many flights of fantasy which are either poignant or hilarious, and the film explores issues of love and death with a fascinating alacrity. It makes no bones about its comic book violence, shooting the battles in a playful and entertaining manner with minimal focus on any lingering amount of pain. We still believe the characters are in danger, but as in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies there is no real need to demonstrate their danger beyond stylised forms of suggestion.
Several moments in the film really stick in one's mind. Towards the end, Pilgrim is 'killed' by Gideon, the last of the evil exes played brilliantly by Jason Schwartzman. He finds himself in some kind of desert, identical to the dream in which he first saw Ramona. He then uses the 'life' he had gained before to replay all the previous events and finally defeat Gideon. Having the exes shatter into piles of coins when defeated is ingenious, as is the spectacle of sound waves forming into two dragons and taking on a giant aural gorilla during the Battle of the Bands.
Despite its large quantities of geeky references to video games and the like, the film gets away with it for the simple reason that it doesn't take itself too seriously. So many other films with video game elements fail as much from being po-faced as they do from being plotless. For all its visual style, Silent Hill is not scary, and for all its seeming intensity, Max Payne is not exciting. Scott Pilgrim, on the other hand, has an incredible and knowing lightness of touch. It drifts like its central character from one scene to another, paying enough attention to follow what's going on while still finding time to escape into fantasy and have fun.
The film is laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, with jokes coming so thick and fast that you struggle to keep up or breathe. The humour comes in all shapes and sizes, from physical slapstick to witty one-liners. We have Wallace, Scott's gay roommate, who hits on everyone's boyfriends and can seemingly text Scott's overprotective sister even whilst slipping into unconsciousness. We have Todd, the third evil ex, whose status as an arrogant vegan has given him psychic powers. We have the Japanese twins, who look like a bizarre marriage between Kraftwerk and Siegfried & Roy. And we have all of Scott's embarrassing verbal slip-ups, such as confusing 'love' for 'lesbians' and asking Ramona if she's into drugs.
Jokes like this drift very close to the more putrid adolescent comedies, like National Lampoon's Animal House, Porky's or Superbad. But despite all the moments where we cringe at the characters' actions, Scott Pilgrim is not out to make us wriggle uncomfortably in our seats. The more intimate scenes, including those of Ramona in her underwear, are shot with an underlying sense of respect. The film treats its female characters on a level playing field, not just by demonstrating they can fight as well as the men, but by refusing to fall into the trap of laughing at their misfortune during the break-up scenes.
In the midst of all its belly laughs and eye-popping visuals, Scott Pilgrim is a very tender treatment of young love, demonstrating not just how to get the girl but how to deal with the baggage that goes with all relationships. Both Scott and Ramona have issues with commitment, with the latter admitting that she went through a phase of being a total bitch. And like in Gregory's Girl, there is the faint suggestion that the girl Scott falls for may not be the one he is destined to be with. In the original draft of the screenplay, which preceded the final comics, he ends up with Knives instead.
In defeating the evil exes, Pilgrim is not just standing up to other people's demons but also confronting his own insecurities, and in doing so gaining self-respect. The film genuinely conveys the sense of heartbreak on both sides which comes at the end of a relationship, and it doesn't pretend that our heroes are perfectly compatible and therefore destined to be together. Ramona's changing hair colour and tendency to withdraw at crucial moments both represents the fragile nature of love and encapsulates the modern age of complicated relationships and how hard communication can be, despite (or perhaps because of) new technology.
The performances in Scott Pilgrim are all of a high calibre. Michael Cera, who can be annoying, puts in his best performance since Juno, taking his familiar dweeby character and refining it to make Scott genuinely empathetic rather than simply pitiful. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is terrific as Ramona, possessing a sense of mystery while being completely natural and down-to-earth. Kieran Culkin is hilarious as Wallace, and Brandon Routh is very good as Todd, turning in a performance which is a million times more charismatic than his work in Superman Returns.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the best films of 2010 and is destined to be a cult classic. It isn't quite a masterpiece, being slightly too long and feeling somewhat rough around the edges. It takes time to adjust to its peculiar execution, and I would be hard-pushed to say it was Wright's best film. But as a document of teenage love and insecurity, it is up there with Juno, and is therefore essential viewing for anyone in their early-20s.
There's plenty to like, but the love story rings typical. The erstwhile girlfriend gives her blessing, and the movie's eponymous hero gets the girl even though the last battle seems to hint that both Scott and Ramona need to do some real growing up on their own. If Scott HAS to wind up with anybody, the alternate ending with Knives is sweeter, more realistic, and more redemptive (since she actually fights for Scott in the end).
Upon second viewing, I enjoyed it better for the kooky performances of actors whom I didn't know well three years ago and have since then grown to love, for instance lean and cut Chris Evans, mean and awkward Aubrey Plaza, pixie pipsqueak Mae Whitman, and the aforementioned, versatile and frazzly-dazzly Alison Pill.
But to be honest: the movie is probably impossible to watch for everyone who never was much of a gamer or into garage rock. God help them.
I say that, but, fair warning, this is also a film of its time and for people of a certain generation/type. This is a hyper-kinetic, sensually (sight/sound) stunning, and wildly entertaining loveletter to gamers, hipsters, youtube generation, and nerds (in general). This is not just a geek/nerd wet dream, it's a full on five-alarm nerdgasm of the highest order. There are so many jokes, references, sight gags, and sound gags packed into basically every frame that there's no telling how long it would take to catch or make note of them all.
This film is essentially a live action video game about a goofy Canadian slacker in a mediocrce band who meets and falls in love with the literal girl of his dreams. In order to be with her though, he has to embark on a classic hero's quest and defeat her seven evil exes. In this regard, it is sort of a genre film, yet due to its style and all the crazy stuff going on, it's really in a class all its own.
This may be an adaptation, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is wildly original, unique, and had me constantly thinking "I've never seen/heard THAT before!" This marks a bit of a change for Edgar Wright, It's his first non-R rated film, and is also a more mainstream effort for him. This isn't him selling out though; Oh no, far from it. It's got his touches all over it, and is still an original work of art.
The cast is wonderful. Michael Cera avoids completely "doing his thing" and does a great job of embodying the goofy slacker that isn't completely likeable even though we root for him. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is perfect as the girl of Scott's dreams. Her hair is great and her eyes are killer. Ellen Wong is a scream as Scott's obsessive girlfriend that he abandons for Ramona. As far as the rest of the large cast-they're also all pretty good. In particular, Mae Whitman rocks, Chris Evans is fun, Kieran Culkin is a real scene stealer, and Jason Schwartzman makes for a delightful villain. I'm not sure whose deadpan-ness is more fun to watch- Aubrey Plaza or Alison Pill- I loved 'em both.
For everything about it that rules, and kick ass, and breaks ground, this film isn't quite perfect. The style trumps story. There is a story, and it's a good one, but the focus is over all the other stuff. That's not a complete problem, but the characters as a result are just a tad undercooked. It's hard to really get too emotionally attached about these people (or as attached as we should). Also, the middle drags somewhat. I actually wish the film were longer. I've not yet read the source material, but I hear this film tried to cram all six books into this movie. It probably would have been a better idea just split things up into like a trilogy or something.
The biggest thing holding this movie back lies with accessibility. My parents, if they saw this film, would no doubt be dazed, confused, and probably not "get" it. Even my brother who is only four years older than me may not dig this.
All of that aside, this is a fun, inventive, and amazing film. It is ambitious, epic, dazzling, and tries to maybe do too much. It doesn't fully succeed here, but there's so much that is great that it is easy to bypass what little flaws there are.
This is a flashy, fun, fast-paced, and quirky movie chock full of references to gaming. You ain't a gaming fan? You're not gonna enjoy this. Not digging the full immersion of a laid back nerd fest that's about flash, not class? Then you're not down for this movie. In an ironic way, I'm not one to embrace eccentrically bizarre movies like this one, but in a way, it worked. The plot takes a backseat, but in return, we get a thoroughly thought out and original style unlike any other movie out there. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World". C'mon, just look at the title; its reminiscent to a plethora of fighter-game titles out there. That's what it basically is: A game fused with real life, morals, lessons, and events with full indicators of status bars, game points, and power-ups; it's ingeniously well-done. All the things we movie lovers have come to become familiar with regarding movies (like how love is denying oneself, getting through the past by dealing with it, and staying true to yourself) are all realized via video game achievements or failures. It's a film that's marinated in style, but truth be told, it isn't as fun as it should be. The pacing really takes a lot of oil to spark up in the beginning, acting could've been better, the script could've been much more dense, and attempts to inject comedy in the mix would, at the most, leave me at a slight chuckle, but nevertheless, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" had a style that was too convincing and technically sound to deny. So much to respect here and though it was a great time, it wasn't AS entertaining as it should've been -- just a personal preference. In no way does this make "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" a bad movie -- in fact, it's great, but my admiration to this title leans more towards its embrace for the unusual and style, not its entertainment value.
Ironically, the plot itself suffers, but it shares the same narrative drive as many "Anime"-series' do: it isn't an innovative or endearing plot with intricate character development and virtuous plot turns, but it engages viewers through a testosterone build-up of stronger and stronger villains that the protagonist must face. C'mon, you weren't into Dragonball Z, Naruto, and Bleach for their deep and endearing narratives -- it was the action and characters. The movie is all about how Michael Cera, the title character, must fight through Ramona Flowers' 7 Exes in order to win her heart. And the more and more he treads upon this "dangerous road", the more tougher and evil these exes get. Pretty straight forward plot, but what makes it engaging is how the journey's filled with new power-ups, turns, and special powers that the villains carry. All in all, it's a testosterone pump-up of a movie that a no-namer must defeat unbelievably powerful enemies. Like I said -- it's an "Anime"-narrative-driven plot and it is the only driving quality of this otherwise rite and simplistic storyline.
Though this may seem like the loudest movie of 2010, it is innovative and infectiously engaging due to its luminous flair, that proudly shows off its love for the gaming culture. It's not a stupid movie either; gaming and movie fans will see these two mediums' cultural influences intricately intertwined in harmony which will naturally leave one dazzled. There's a lot to recognize here -- it's entertaining, but not as entertaining as it should be.
I felt i was on cocaine, it is a crazy and weird way of making a movie! I'm not a huge fan of the comic book style way it was made and it just wasnt interesting enough for me to finish watching the movie!
A smart, unique film that cannot be missed. I love the way the videogame sounds and comic book images were incorporated. It truly sets this film apart. I must mention the dialogue; a great script with perfect lines at the right time. So hilarious! "You punched my boob....prepare to die, obviously," "You made me swallow my gum. That's going to be in my digestive tract for 7 years."
At times, the clever, bizzare, quirkiness of this film left me in a state of confusion as to whether or not what I was watching was literal. However, in this particular film, the confusion is part of the joy of watching. It's oddity is so brilliantly executed that the seemingly ridiculous story makes for a very good film. I absolutely loved it!