August 26th 2010
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
Director: Edgar Wright | Run time: 113 mins
Reviewed by Dan Collacott
I came into this film as someone who had read very little of Bryan Lee O'Malley's cult comic. I was however someone who HAD been blown away by the exorbitant levels of geekdom that came exploding out at me from the trailer. As a child of the 80s, I experienced first hand the video gaming revolution, so the opening 8-bit version of the Universal logo and fanfare spoke volumes to my Nintendo Entertainment System shaped heart. But you don't have to be a comic or video game fan boy to enjoy what this film has to offer. You just have to like sweets? Why? Well 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World' has a romantic comedy peanut butter filled core, with a visually incendiary, pop reference littered chocolate coating. In fact the film is strewn with more pop culture sweeties than anyone could consume in one sitting.
Ok so enough with the confectionery metaphors and onto the film itself. In the lead role of Scott Pilgrim, Michael Cera takes on a character that is the exact opposite from his usual mixed up and angst laden man boy role. As bass player of indie band Sex Bob-omb, Pilgrim sets out to win the heart of dream girl Romana Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whilst negotiating an already established but lame relationship with obsessive high schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and then of course dealing with the small matter of having to defeat Romona's seven evil exes. Despite the zany premise, the movie is about ordinary people dealing with their issues/baggage and relationships in a fairly extraordinary way. Scott, and occasionally Romona, engage in a long ass series of Capcom beat-em-up style fight sequences which make 'Kill Bill' look like 'The Sound of Music'. The teenspired message behind the endless battles is that love is worth fighting for (ok I think I just threw up a little in my mouth).
There isn't a poor piece of acting to speak of here - Cera and Winstead play the leads impeccably, Routh and Evans add bravado and smarm as Todd Ingram and Lucas Lee whilst Swartzman is superbly sinister and loathsome as the lead villain, Gideon Graves. Kieran Culkin also delivers some terrifically dry one-liners as Pilgrim's gay flatmate, Wallace Wells.
The film is densely packed with computer noises and old school arcade graphics and the action bares some of the most heavily and superbly produced fight sequences ever committed to a rom-com! In fact the aesthetics and the heart of this film are surprisingly in tune with another, as the amazing visuals counter the coming of age style teen/twenty something hormones which in turn tones down the absurdity of the set pieces. The soundtrack is equally awesome with stellar contributions from Broken Social Scene (Crash And The Boys), Beck (Sex Bob-omb) and Metric (Clash At Demonhead) plus Nigel Godrich's highly imaginative score.
Boiling down a six book story into one film can't have been easy and it seems that when the sixth book hit the shelves, Wright quickly responded by doing three days of re-filming to shoehorn in more of the comic. In fact it transpires that some of what Wright wrote in storyboards early on in the film making process then featured in the later books. So the relationship between him and O'Malley seems to have at least been incestuously productive.
I won't bore you with endless John Hughes references or try and smack you about with the inherent tedium of the Tarantino shaped cliche bat, but just to say Edgar Wright has woven O'Malley's work into a film that speaks volumes to an entire wired up generation. There is really very little not to like about this film, ok for some it might be a bit too geeky, but I challenge even the most cynical of people not to get something out of 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World'?
Read a short interview with director Edgar Wright!
Watch this film at Screen on the Green Islington for more info click here!
LF also recommends The Illusionist