As this is pretty much the trend with all upcoming comic book films that aren’t Marvel or DC properties, I have not read the source material for Scott Pilgrim. Basically I just didn’t know about it. Did I miss the boat? No. These days, when filmmakers shoot these adaptations they (thankfully) take the mentality of moviegoers like myself into account. So with that said, I didn’t know squat about Scott Pilgrim but Edgar Wright (read Genius) made me feel like I’d been a fan of the comic all along.
PLOT: Now I know this isn’t justifiable since I haven’t seen Inception yet, but my current opinion is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the coolest movie of the year so far. Not like this is a provocative thriller or a smart movie, but this is witty and just what the summer needs replete with enough comedy to fill 2 movies. Not so much a creative cross-medium adaptation but more like a literal film translation; Scott Pilgim plays out like a living comic book. That seemed like the more effective route as none of the characters had the substance of a comic like Spider Man or even 300. This isn’t an “origin story” (which seems almost a given with comic-films today) and though Scott’s not a super hero, the plot and everything in it felt so rounded and three-dimensional it’s engaging and fun, almost as if he were one. There was a real weight to Pilgrim plus a story worth telling which felt like there was a reason to make this film in the first place…not like Garfield for example.
CHARACTER: Coming from a comic, saying the characters were colorful is not only a given but an understatement. The diversity of everyone in Scott Pilgrim, from his flighty but overbearing sister, to his self-centered gay roommate, to Scott’s utterly devoted teenage Chinese girlfriend to the famous/deadly 7 Evil Ex’s. Getting that on paper, probably not a problem. Fleshing it out to make it quasi-believable on screen I imagine might have taken some doing. Wright managed to bring it all together with vibrancy and make everyone so damn appealing without being off-putting as some comic characters are known to be.
Cera was quite impressive and is looking to distance himself from the timid awkwardly funny roles he’s known for. While this wasn’t a complete 180 (let’s face it, I don’t think he’ll ever completely outgrow those roles) the role of Scott was a good stretch for him as it was a perfect mix of Juno’s self-awareness and Cera’s inherent and trademark odd-ball persona. But to me the stand-outs were Kieran Culkin (channeling Robert Downey Jr. so damn well) and Brandon Routh (probably the most memorable and to me the funniest Evil X) in roles that will undoubtedly get them a lot more work in the near future.
MELODY: Were this movie made on it’s own and not from a comic, I think the audience would have let out a collective WTF? or maybe this would never have been greenlit in the first place. The fact that this is an adaptation means that there really are no rules save one; make the fans happy. Everything, and I mean everything worked, e.g. editing, pacing, choreography, casting, art direction etc. Best of all, the writing was refreshingly witty, the jokes were hysterical and there’s enough one-liners and zingers I bet we’ll see at least a few of them on t-shirts by the end of the year. My personal favorite, “Your BF is about to get F’d in the B!!“. Everyone in the cast pulled their weight and best of all there’s a few cameos that almost stole the show with some of the biggest laughs of the film.
SPECTACLE: Pilgrim was flashy as all get out and there was amazing effects work flying all over the place. The almost trippy scene transitions created an accelerated timeline which kept things exciting and it seemed very inventive and original. I don’t think I’ve been this saturated with the color of computer effects since Speed Racer (where I felt like a rainbow punched me in the eye) but while it was restrained from being over the top, it was so damned fun and gorgeous at the same time. Small elements like everyone getting their own lead-in “character box” to the coins after an Evil Ex victory created a weird hybrid movie falling somewhere between a video game and a comic. It was just awesome and again so much fun.
The movie was a little longer than I expected and 7 Evil Ex’s was a quite a lot for unassuming Pilgrim to go through (some being vastly more interesting than others) to reach the end. But all in all if they shorted it, the story probably would have felt flat, thin or lacking. Of all the comic books movies out there, this is the first one that really makes me want to go and see what it’s all about. Hellboy, Watchmen, Kick-Ass were good movies but to get me, someone so out of the comic-book game, to head back to a comic shop (or Amazon) is a feat in itself.
The one thing I am worried about is that this was so highly stylized that in a few years it may not age well and therefore seem very specific to the time it was made. I have a feeling this may be viewed later on as someone now may view The Mask; similarly colorful and fun but dated. But for now, soak up the awesomeness (to say nothing of Halloween costume inspiration for years to come) to be had because it’s chock full of it. Insanely fun, hysterical, features one hell of a cast doing some awesome action and wouldn’t ya know it, it’s a love story to boot…who says you can’t have everything? This is the comic movie to beat this year and has already waxed both Kick-Ass and Iron Man 2 in my eyes…way to go Edgar Wright…Level Up!!