Scott Pilgrim vs The World Movie Review

Man, oh man,¬†what a great film. I’ve been a fan of the great series of graphic novels by creator Bryan Lee O’Malley since I picked up Volume 1 last year. Since 2004 there have been 6 of the enchanting black and white digests, with the final volume, entitled, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, having just been released.

The books, from publisher¬†Oni Press, centre on slacker Scott Pilgrim, who in his own words remarks,”I don’t need fun to have a good time.” Basically the story is like a manic soap opera that wears its much loved influences boldly on its sleeve. Those influences include pop culture, from comics to video games and classic TV series, and O’Malley manages to weave all that and more in his seemingly rambling, but not really, tale of Scott and his numerous friends as he must defeat the 7 evil exes of the new love of his life, Romana Flowers. Perhaps the trailer can explain it better than I can.

There couldn’t be a better director for the film version than Edgar Wright. The British director has proved his love of pop culture is as evident as O’Malley’s in his TV series Spaced, and showed that he knows how to combine heartfelt drama, comedy and wild action with his first two films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.

This was always going to be a hard film to make, not merely because there’s over 1000 pages of source material, but also because it’s not a straight forward tale, with its ever growing cast of characters and a concept that may be hard to grasp for some. As a loyal reader, I can honestly say that the movie exceeded my expectations. Michael Cera (TV’s Arrested Development, Juno) was the only logical choice for the confused, yet dedicated man-boy that is Scott Pilgrim, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4) lays on quiet charm and beauty as the object of his affection and relative newcomer Ellen Wong is great as Knives Chau, the immature teenager that Scott is dating at the film’s beginning, and who is also a huge fan of Scott’s average band Sex Bob-Omb.

The evil exes don’t appear for long, as there are seven to get through after all, but thankfully they are played very well and the battles that are sprinkled throughout the film are unique and visually remarkable. Comic book fans have more reason to see this film, as Chris Evans, who has played The Human Torch in Fantastic Four and is currently acting as Captain America in next year’s film shows up as ex-skateboarder/current hammy action star Lucas Lee, while Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh is a mindreading Vegan and Jason Schwatrzman arrives at the climax as mastermind Gideon Graves, the man behind the League of Evil Exes. Thomas Jane (The Punisher) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek) also show up as Vegan cops.

With its cast of sometimes selfish friends and a world charmingly placed in fantasy land, in which fights resemble something from a frantic video game, it won’t be for everybody, and the first half is more concerned with hilarious jokes and visual gags, while issues of love and maturity are the focus of the second half.

You’ll get more out of it if you’ve read the comics, and don’t mind going with the rich and hypnotic world in which Pilgrim is set. This is not a film for those who like cinema to reflect reality. However, it does have a surprisingly emotional centre (more so than even the comics) and an unashamed sense of child-like, and often childish, fun. Filled with a hectic pace, yet never seeming rushed, it explodes onto the screen like a multicoloured volcano and entices you to pay attention lest you miss a joke. There are plenty of those here, whether it be a running gag about Pilgrim’s haircut or a scene complete with the Seinfeld theme and a laugh track. Yep, charming nonsense has a new name and it is Scott Pilgrim.

Oh, and this is what I’d look like in Scott Pilgrim’s world.¬†See yourself right here.

Ramblings For Early July

Some random thoughts that need escaping from my mind to my keyboard.

Bad Kids Go To Hell #1I read Antarctic Press’s Bad Kids Go To Hell #1 on the train today. It was the name that caught my eye when I saw it in Previews 2 months ago. AP are a great little publisher and with titles like David Huthchison’s Biowulf and Rod Espinosa’s excellent Prince of Heroes they deserve to be noticed. Bad Kids is not of the same ilk, but it’s good to see AP branch out from their manga flavoured digests. It’s written by Matt Spradlin (or Spadlin according to the intro) with art by Anthony Vargas. The premise is The Breakfast Club meets Buffy’s Hellmouth. A construction crew opens up a portal of some sort and then 3 years later the Crestview Library opens on that spot. Six students are brought in on a Saturday morning for detention. It’s an extra-sized debut but there’s no real smattering of the horror to come just yet, and all of the students are somewhat stereotypical (jock, goth, nerd,etc) but when they’re not swearing and talking about sex the dialogue’s not bad. 4 issues should pretty much say all there is to say with the concept and Vargas’ work is realistic enough in this context.

Rapture #2 from Dark Horse is great. The first issue was a splendid intro and Mike Avon Oeming and Taki Soma’s tale of separated lovers in the apocalypse works well. It could just as well work without Evelyn’s calling and her mystical spear and guide, but the emotion really comes through. Oeming is always a master of the page and with this series he looks to be trying different styles throughout the issues, and it works a treat.

Scott Pilgrim Volume 1The Definitive Edition of Codeflesh from Image is far too expensive. $40 for a Hard Cover on flimsy paper? Nah. It’s an OK tale, by writer Joe Casey and artist Charlie Adlard and it’s good to see the series not suffer from its sporadic publication. The tale of a masked bail bondsman chasing jail skipping freaks is a grand idea and Adlard’s art is dark but not jaw dropping.

Alex Robinson’s black and white digest Too Cool To Be Forgotten from Top Shelf. It’s a slow start and the plot is almost straight out of a Disney film, but Robinson takes the tale of a middle-aged man who gets hypnotised to stop smoking and relives his high school years instead a realistic and un-corny tale. It goes beyond the simple art to poke the heart, kinda like that Adam Sandler film, Click.

I read the first two digest sized volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series from Oni Press in quick succession. Girlfriends with names like Bond girls, a healthy respect for comedic timing, retro video games and a dose of fantasy. I can’t wait to see how all this translates to film. If Kevin Smith was a comics creator instead of a film maker, he’d be making books like Scott Pilgrim.

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