Scott Pilgrim vs the World

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This is a re-post of my Scott Pilgrim review from culch.ie

It’s probably a tribute to this film that I’m writing the review of a Sunday morning. There’s not many films that would be afforded that honour. 😉 You see I’m a geek and Scott Pilgrim vs the World is like manna from heaven to geeks. The six part graphic novel created by Bryan Lee O’Malley in 2004 has been an amazing success with the final book coming out just weeks before the films release. It’s within that universe that Edgar Wright has created Scott Pilgrim vs The World which is based on the second book of the same name.

Scott, a twenty something dude from Toronto, who is “between jobs” meets Ramona Flowers and instantly becomes obsessed. The catch? To date her he’ll need to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. Yes, that’s fight and defeat. You don’t need to be the smartest kid in the class to figure out that this will involve Scott growing up and figuring out how much he wants to be with Ramona.

Michael Cera takes on the mantle of Scott. He’s an actor that has been criticised by many for “playing Michael Cera’ in the past but I think this marks a progression. Scott is aimless, selfish and thoughtless so it would be easy for an audience to find him annoying but Cera manages to keep it grounded through good comedy. We’ve probably all seen aspects of ourselves in Scott’s character too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays the object of Scott’s affection. The minute she turns up on screen, you can understand why she has seven evil exes fighting for her. It’s not just the fact that she looks the way she does (changing her hair colour every 10 days btw) but Winstead makes the character mysterious, enigmatic and very cool.

In terms of performances, there are two real standouts. First up is Kieran Culkin, playing Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace Wells. Wallace can be equally as thoughtless as Scott, and perhaps even more selfish – he shamelessly steals other people’s (straight) boyfriends – but when it comes down to it, he reminds us that best friends are sometimes the ones to tell us to stop whining, get off the couch and do something about our problems. Culkin’s performance is easy, natural and hilarious. While a little too much focus is given to Wallace’s sexual preferences in the film, Culkin takes this facet of his character, runs with it and makes it his own. The other outstanding performance has to be newcomer Ellen Wong as Scott’s spurned girlfriend Knives Chau. Wong’s portrayal of the character is so wide-eyed and lost puppy-ish that it is almost impossible not to root for her.

Taking the helm of directing the madness is Edgar Wright in his first Hollywood film after the huge successes of ‘Shaun of the Dead‘ and ‘Hot Fuzz‘. Wright was offered a number of scripts but chose to embrace Scott Pilgrim and it’s easy to understand why – he’s a geek. In terms of style, the cuts flow smoothly into one another, with conversations sometimes taking place over several locations – crummy apartment, street to sleazy nightclub. Add to this blocks of comic book text that alternate between setting the scene, commenting on the action or describing sound effects and you have the perfect mix of comic book meets video game type action. The film is very much a love letter to video games, not only in the fight scenes, but through the little touches – the ‘life’ Scott gains, the fact that defeated foes turn into coins, and the Street Fighter-esque glowing ‘Vs’ that appears on screen before each fight. We really enjoyed the music queues too. Make sure to look out for Chris Evan’s introduction as evil ex #2. 🙂

Overall, the pace drops slightly in the middle, but it’s made up for in terms of the amazing action sequences and plot which keep you interested throughout. The supporting cast – Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and the array of evil exes (in particular Brandon Routh, Chris Evans and Jason Schwartzman) – are fantastic and the soundtrack is filled with great tunes (so many in fact that they’ve had to split it over two CDs).

Scott Pilgrim was always going to be a difficult film to sell to the masses but it really is a great film for non-geeks too. The action sequences, comedy and story are worthy of the summer blockbuster status the studio afforded it. Scott Pilgrim Vs the World is the cinematic equivalent of Mario 64 that will stay with audiences long after the final epic battle.

Competition: Universal are offering an epic holiday to Toronto, Canada, where the movie was shot on location. One winner and friend will be attending Toronto’s hottest Indie-Rock music festival (June 13-19, 2011) and visiting the locations of Scott Pilgrim. To enter, check out: http://apps.facebook.com/spxchallenge

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