I went to see an early screening of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Now the primary reaction of people I talk to about the movie is “who?” or sometimes “huh?”. I guess the movie did not register much in people’s radar. So let me recap for everyone who has not heard of this upcoming movie.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a movie based off a Canadian graphic novel series of the same title by Brian Lee O’Mally. It takes place in Canada, and is about a boy who wants to date a girl, but first he must fight and defeat her seven evil exes who have organized themselves into the (wait for it) The League of Ramona’s Evil Exes. The comic borrows heavily from the world of retro video games for its humor. I will preface my review by acknowledging that I have not read any of the graphic novels (but now plan to).
The movie cast include Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad etc.) as our hero, Scott Piligrim, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his love interest Ramona, Kieran Culkin as Scott Pilgrims cool gay roomate (who almost steals the movie, and yes he is MaCaulay Culkin’s younger brother). I think my favorite evil ex was Todd, who was played by Brandon Routh (Superman Returns). I don’t want to give it away, but the source of Todd’s powers is the reason I thought he was the most entertaining.
The film is basically about the love life of one Scott Pilgrim, a nerdy kid who is decidedly a bit of an asshole since for some bizarre reason outrageously attractive women keep throwing themselves at him. The movie centers around Scott chasing the girl of his dreams Ramona (literally, since Ramona uses temporal vortexes and wormholes to deliver packages faster with her job at Amazon.com, and often takes shortcuts through Scott’s dreams). He nabs her maybe a little too easily, but despite the apparent ease he soon learns there is a catch. He must now defeat her seven evil exes before he can continue dating her. This is all explained to him in a courteous email.
Ramona herself is flawed, being portrayed as fickle and probably not that into Scott Pilgrim at all. One of the coldest and most brutal lines is uttered by Ramona when she says “you are just an evil ex waiting to happen”. Ouch.
To complicate matters Scott is also dating a chinese school girl named Knives. Who will Scott choose?? Having many outrageously attractive woman to choose from is definitely something all of us can relate to whether in High School now or just thinking back on that magical time.
I really liked that unlike other zero-to-hero type films, we are not forced to watch our zero train and then suddenly become a shaloin monk martial arts master after a training montage. He just IS. It is never explained, he can just kick ass. I really liked this approach.
Humor came from many different directions and was not always video or anime oriented. Although arguably targeted at male audiences, women might find within the seven evil exes an evil ex of their own they can relate to.
I have to give the film a lot of credit for not having to rely too much on specific games for its humor. This opens the movie up to general audiences who are aware of how video games typically operate but have not played many games themselves. The few inside jokes include Scott’s band name, sex bomb-omb, (a reference to Super Mario 2) and Scott Pilgrim from a parallel universe who calls himself Nega Scott (reference to Legend of Zelda 2), and enemies turning into coins when defeated (reference to River City Ransom, but many games have enemies that turn into money when defeated, especially RPG’s).
I really liked some of the creative cuts and film techniques this film employed. For example at one point Ramona asks Scott to close his eyes. So he does. And when he does, the screen goes black for us as well. Clever little touches like this abound throughout.
The movie was just the right length, with only a little bit of a pacing problem towards the end. Overall I felt it was excellent. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is so hip it hurts. This is the type of atmosphere and vibe that many companies attempt to paint themselves into, often failing miserably. (sunny-D, anyone?)
Overall Score 10/10
Bonus: there is a great video game that is styled like a classic 8bit game being released 8/10/2010 on PS3 as a download. here is some video footage: