Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

It's always a hard job adapting a comic book to a film, especially when said comic has it's own visual flair and a way of doing things that just doesn't translate to the screen as well as you'd think. Last year Zack Snyder brought us Watchmen, albeit a much different comic, trying to adapt one of the medium's most celebrated volumes to the screen with very tepid results. Sometimes directors and studios miss the point, sometimes the work is either too colossal to fit into a film or really doesn't lend itself to the format. Scott Pilgrim is one of those comics that you would think upon reading would never work in a live-action format. That fact was not lost on Edgar Wright, who rose up to the task of directing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Instead of straining against his genius comic source, he dives into it, with phenomenal results.
The brilliance of the film is in that it literally is a living, breathing version of Bryan Lee O'Malley's epic anime/punk/video game inspired opus. When Scott destroys an enemy he visibly gains experience points, rising out of the disintegrating body. Emotional battles become full scale showdowns with past baggage. Wright pulls out every stop to bring us images that stimulate our senses and advance the plot without giving us a break to think how silly it might all look with a less competent director. Wright is also very crafty in condensing down six volumes (containing about 200 pages each) to a two hour film and barely losing any of the core material. Yes, I missed several subplots and I was surprised to find dialog coming from different mouths, but I'd take that over a bloated film that didn't know when to stop.
For those not in the know, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tells of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, in the first role I have fully enjoyed him in) who meets the mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The problem with Ramona is that her exes have formed a league to torment Ramona and destroy any would be boyfriends. Scott must defeat them one by one with the help of his sarcastic gay roomate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin, stealing the damn show) and his band, Sex Bob-omb.
The cast in this film is perfect. Not one actor feels out of place and they all click with each other. Cera, Winstead, Culkin, Ellen Wong, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman and especially Jason Schwartzman all deserve major kudos for their excellent work here and being so damn game. I only feel like Shota and Keita Saito are left out as most of their story from the comic is left out, which is the only minor problem I had with the film. Kudos also to Beck and Broken Social Scene for bringing the bands' music to life and rocking the shit out of it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a unique film and the most successful direct comic book to film adaptation to date. It's a film that deserves to be seen and marveled at. Few films these days give us protagonists we can relate to on such an epic quest. I would say not since the Star Wars trilogy have I been this involved with the hero's journey. Sadly, it's already looking like Scott Pilgrim is having a hard time reaching those outside it's target audience. It's nothing new to us geeks and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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