I remember when ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ came out at the cinema. I remember how excited I was walking down the dimly-lit aisle to my seat. I remember buzzing with anticipation that one of my favourite writers and directors, Edgar Wright, had taken on one of my favourite comic book series, written by Bryan Lee O’Malley. And I remember exactly how I felt when the 8-bit Universal Studios theme kicked in over the sound system, like I knew in those 30 seconds this was going to be a perfect telling of this story. Fast-forward five years and I still get that feeling.
‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ tells the story of, believe it or not, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera). Scott meets the woman of his dreams, in his dreams, and finds out he must battle her seven evil exes (to the death) in order to be with her. That woman is Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a hipster chick who changes her hair colour every week and a half and travels on roller skates. Throw into the mix Scott’s high school ‘fake girlfriend’, his failing band, Sex Bob-Omb, his own ex-girlfriend, with whom the breakup wounds are still raw, and his fabulous gay roommate and you have yourself a unique and intriguing tale.
The series was made up of six books in total, so there’s a lot to cram in to one film. It would have been easy to lose the characterisation, but somehow that doesn’t happen here. Sure, in some cases you only get a snippet of who they are, but it’s enough. Take for example the seven evil exes – to help move the story along, what you are given is a comic book strip style introduction (drawn in the style of the comic book source material) to each one explaining their relationship with Ramona. Epic performances from Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman are absolutely on point, stealing their respective scenes with various quips and perfect delivery. They act their characters from head to toe – the voices, the mannerisms, the body language, even the eyebrows. But actually, my favourite performance in the film comes from Kieran Culkin’s Wallace Wells. He plays a gay man who appears consistently bemused by Scott’s entire approach to his situation. He has a dry sense of humour, often pointing out the obvious to a clueless Scott, and often appears to be the only character to have it together. Culkin is so good in this role, it’s hard to imagine where the acting starts.
You may be wondering why I have made no real mention of the two lead performances. The truth is, whilst there’s nothing particularly bad about their performances, they felt a little lazy. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Cera being like Scott every day, similarly Winstead with Ramona. Thats not necessarily a negative, potentially more a compliment to casting, but I was rarely drawn to them, even though the film is essentially their story. Between the outstanding supporting roles and jaw-dropping set pieces, they sometimes had a tendency to become a little lost. For those with a keen eye, there are countless Easter eggs dropped throughout – after multiple viewings, I swear I still find something new that I hadn’t noticed previously. And for those of a geeky persuasion, there are plenty of nods to retro gaming and comics – its in the sound effects, the screen effects, the styling, everywhere. Whilst I’m throwing praise, I have to mention the almighty soundtrack. Featuring plenty of classic rock and mashings of teen angst punk, I’d be surprised if you don’t rush to download it; the perfect accompaniment to the film.
As a lover of the comic books, and Wright’s material in general, I had high expectations for this film. In my humble opinion, those expectations were met, and then some. For anyone who enjoys comic book films, which are currently more popular than ever, I will always point people in the direction of ‘Scott Pilgrim’. With tongue firmly in cheek, this film doesn’t pretend to be anything more than ridiculous, but it is thoroughly entertaining. I mean, who doesn’t want a great love story, set in a universe where the boundaries of gravity and sanity are often pushed. I urge anyone and everyone to give this film a go.
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick