Thursday, August 12, 2010

Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

In the 10 years since Magneto's attack on Liberty Island movie theatres have been inundated with comic adaptations. Unfortunately for comic fans, many of these films have been little more than action flicks with a comic-book veneer. Such is not the case with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

I'm going to get this out of the way. I have not read the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. As far as faithfulness to the story and characters, I can only take the author's word. What I can tell you is that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is faithful to comics as a visual medium. Watching the film feels more like watching a graphic novel than any adaptation since Sin City (and Sin City had it easy with the source material taking inspiration from film). If Christopher Nolan's Batman films ask "What if Batman existed in the real world?" then Scott Pilgrim asks "What if real people existed in the world of comics?" The answer is "it would be pretty fuckin' rad."

For those unfamiliar with the plot, Scott Pilgrim(Michael Cera) is a 23-year-old unemployed bassist and 1/3rd of "The Sex Bob-Ombs," a struggling band. Life is pretty uninteresting for Scott until he meets Ramona Flowers(Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the literal girl of his dreams. The only thing standing between the two would-be lovers are Ramona's 7 evil exes, each willing to fight Scott to the death to keep him from her. We follow Scott as he faces both Ramona's exes and his own insecurities to win the girl and become a better man.

Ramona, Scott, and Scott's circle of friends are full of humor and charm, and the video game and pop-culture references that were so endearing to fans of the graphic novels are still here to tickle your nostalgia just in all the right places. Put these together with Scott's fast-paced battles and you get a film that is just plain fun from start to finish.

However, what really stands out in Scott Pilgrim is it's willingness to both be unashamedly geek, and to live be the old adage that you don't let reality get in the way of a good story. Why can Scott and a record executive fight with swords? Why can Ramona's first ex shoot fireballs? Why do people burst into coins and have HP bars? Why does this story, ostensibly set in the real world, have so many over the top and impossible elements? These are questions you and I don't ask ourselves, because we already know. Because it's awesome, that's why.

Scott Pilgrim's director, Edgar Wright could've left out the fighting game announcers, the magic swords, the 1-ups and the on-screen sound effects. He could've made all the fights brutal, up-close shaky-cam affairs, taking only the humor and the characters from the source material. He could've done these things and probably still had a pretty charming, successful movie. Perhaps even a movie that would appeal to a wider audience, the sort who ask themselves the questions we don't. Luckily for us, Edgar Wright isn't afraid to be awesome.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World has set a new standard for me as a viewer. It shows what a movie adaptation from any visual medium can be if the team behind it is willing to tell the story the fans want, and to take the idea of bringing a comic to the big screen as literally as possible, and it is these things I'll be looking for in future releases.

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