One could say that the Scott Pilgrim series is my own Harry Potter or Twilight. It’s a book (well in this case comic book) series that I loved from the beginning. Read over and over again, waiting in grand anticipation for the next volume to be released. It essentially compiled all of my favorite things ever: comics, video games, indie rock, kung-fu, ninjas, hot chicks… you get the idea. All things labeled as epic and/or awesome was compiled in this 6 volume series. It was every geek’s most glorious fantasy compiled with eccentric humor and plenty of stylish grandeur.
So obviously, I was very excited that a Scott Pilgrim film adaptation was in the works. I was then even more excited that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) would direct it. Then I discovered that Michael Cera would star, which made me suspicious. I mean every role prior to Scott Pilgrim, he was basically a variation of George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. After all Scott Pilgrim as a character isn’t awkward, he’s just a goofball and an idiot. At first, I was worried if Michael Cera wouldn’t know the difference playing this role. Majority naysayers of the film are naysaying because of their dislike for how “Michael Cera basically only plays himself” (because we’ve all obviously met Cera personally and known him long enough to know what he’s like when he’s “himself”). All that being said, this is Cera actually playing a character, even if that character is ultimately a less awkward, much more animated and silly version of “himself” (whatever that even means).
But enough about Cera, he isn’t the star of the film, Edgar Wright is. Shaun of the Dead was a parody/tribute of the zombie genre and Hot Fuzz did the same for action/buddy cop flicks. This time around Edgar Wright does the treatment for video games and hipster/indie culture, saluting, mocking and celebrating these generational quirks in colorful, over-the-top and remarkably stylish beauty. Such visuals singlehandedly prove you don’t need 3D gimmicks to wow your audience. Even during the two or three awkward atypical Cera moments, you won’t mind it with the visual pizazz Wright throws at you at every turn. Along with Sin City, Scott Pilgrim is one of the few times a film adaptation has truly captured the aesthetic and atmosphere of the source material.
Scott Pilgrim VS. The World, based on the 6 volume Canadian comic book series, tells the chaotic tale of Scott Pilgrim: 23, bassist of local band Sex Bob-omb, irresponsible and lacking of any common sense but ultimately means well (sort of). His life is turned on its head upon meeting Ramona Flowers, a mysterious American who recently moved to Toronto to “escape”. The two hit it off and it isn’t long until Scott learns he has to defeat her seven evil exs. Complete and utter chaos ensues.
Each fight scene is choreographed with so much finesse and energy while incorporating video game elements in surreal and absurd proportions (enemies turn into coins upon defeat, characters “level up”, “extra lives” randomly show up). The film also has endless references to gaming classics like The Legend of Zelda and the Street Fighter series. In one moment, one of the exes breaks out into a Bollywood-inspired song with the help of his demon hipster girls. It’s total madness. In essence, this is the best video game movie ever made. You almost want Wright to go back and re-do every adaptation that was done wrong (Dragonball Evoluton, Street Fighter: The Movie, House of the Dead, Speed Racer etc.). Everything about it is the pure definition of epic, from the jaw-dropping visuals and fight scenes to the catchy 8-bit inspired score done by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead’s producer).
Now a movie that lasts under 2 hours while trying to cover a 6 volume long story-arc, it’s going to be as faithful as it possibly can. That being said, for the sake of the pacing, a lot of the less action-packed moments in the books are removed which results in plenty of omissions: Kim Pine has a less of an important role, a few of the evil exs get less screen time and some minor characters (Lisa Miller and Joseph) are completely removed. Sure some of this was disappointing to me but it was expected. If the film included everything from the books the pacing would be absolutely horrible at times. Besides, if I want the complete Scott Pilgrim experience, I’d just read the comics.
Ultimately, as an adaptation, it could’ve been better but as a movie it’s near perfect. It’s a fun, energetic tribute to the video game world juxtaposed with the chaos of being in a new, confusing relationship. Obviously a lot of people won’t be into it; it’s a certain style that a lot of people will either love or hate. And some will dislike for a lot of reasons whether their disassociation with anything hipster or indie or they don’t take video games seriously or they just straight up don’t like Michael Cera as an actor. That being said, if you were so much as mildly interested in seeing this, you’ll walk out of the theater with a huge smile on your face thinking it was one of the best films of the summer. Because honestly, it so is.
RIYL: video games, kung-fu, color, comics, Canadians, nerdy things, Edgar Wright’s other movies, laughing, smiling, any other emotion that evokes happiness, seriously kids go see this