Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: 8-Bit Awesomesauce

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

So I kind of dropped the ball during ComicCon weekend by only blogging about Kick-Ass, and leaving my review of Iron Man 2 in the gutter. But, friends and neighbors, I was able to attend an advanced screening of Edgar Wright's upcoming film based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's mini-series Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, so I hope that makes up for it. Today's the day the soundtrack and original score albums come out for SPvsTW, so it's only fitting that I get to it today. Scott Pilgrim hits theaters this Friday, August 13th.

Scott Pilgrim is a slacker. He's in a band but they kind of suck. He's dating a high schooler but they barely hold hands. He owns approximately two things in his apartment and shares a bed with his cool gay roommate Wallace because he can't afford a bed. He has no job, no goals, no hope. But then he meets Ramona Flowers, a rollerblading American bad-ass hipster babe. You'd think things would only get less complicated from there. But, holy crap, it turns out he has to defeat her seven evil exes in combat in order to earn the right to date her. You'd think this would be too much for a girl Scott just met, but you have severely underestimated how much more interesting his life is now.

The comic book series is six volumes long, and the movie is less than two hours. That being said, they manage to do an extremely good job condensing the plot and action. Things that are left out aren't exactly "unnecessary," but they aren't missed much in the movie. Many of the scenes, shots, lines, and especially costumes are lifted directly from the comic itself. Luckily, Volume 6 had come out just a week or so before we saw the film, so we were able to complete the series before checking out the movie. The film version is different, and has a fairly different climax, but at their core the two are very similar.

Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, & Spaced), SPvsTW is a fanboy homage to comics, video games, pop culture, and romance wrapped in purposefully dated references, sounds, and even computers (Scott uses AOL, for Pete's sake). The music is hip and has an "indie" feel, and the score is sweeping and hardcore at the same time (Nigel Godrich is a genius). At its core, it stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona, Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, Mark Webber as Stephen Stills... Well, why don't I just point you to The Database page? There are far too many good people in this movie to list them all. With the exception of Ramona, the casting was perfection. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was good, and she's a capable actress. However, I just didn't buy her as Ramona, and felt the casting may have been wrong (though I don't know who could have played her instead). I had my doubts about Michael Cera at first, but I was on board right away once I saw him in action.

The fight scenes were brutal, engaging, entertaining, and very much under the influence of video games. There were some great cameos (wait until you see who they get to play the Vegan Police), and fans of the series should be very satisfied. If you've never read the comics, you'll still enjoy this movie, as long as you enjoy twenty-something romances, kicking rock bands, epic bass battles, and sword duels. The actual violence is minimal: When evil exes are defeated, they explode into coins. Some of the exes don't get enough attention (I didn't like how small the Katayanagi twins were in the film, though their battle was epic), and Scott's own evil ex Envy (amazingly played by Brie Larson) was severely downplayed.

The only real negative to the film was the condensed timeline; the comic series takes place over a series of months, but the movie takes place over what seems to be a week or less. This unfortunately lead to more of a "love triangle" between Ramona and Scott's high-schooler girlfriend Knives (though she's brilliant, played by Ellen Wong), which I didn't feel was a match to the tone of the book. It worked for the film, though, and it wasn't totally random.

Overall, I was really excited I got to see the film in an advanced screening. I've never been able to go to one before, so that definitely was a bonus. I might actually want to go see it again when it comes out, but I may not. It's definitely on my list of DVDs to pick up (or BluRays, if I have a player by then). It's fun, cute, quirky, hip, and wacky. It has action, video games, rock bands, Japanese twins, and Jason Schwartzman as a sword-wielding jerk villain! It has basically everything that you need in a movie.

I give Scott Pilgrim vs. the World three and a half three-second songs by Crash and the Boys (literally) out of five, or three and a half giant hammers being pulled out of handbags out of five.

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