Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
I’ve been interested in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels for a few years now, although I’ve never found the time to pick one up. I have, however, managed to watch the movie adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010 dir. Edgar Wright).
Like the series, the movie focuses on Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) falling in love with the mysterious Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and subsequently having to fight her seven evil exes (not ex boyfriends!). An interesting mix of genres, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a good and enjoyable film that perhaps doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
The Toronto that Scott Pilgrim inhabits is the world as video game. The League of Evil Exes is akin to a seven level video game, just without the goons and mini bosses. This element of the movie can be taken as either: the video game nature of the world is real, or Scott Pilgrim is interpreting the real world as a video game. Personally, I love the notion that the world depicted is an alternate Earth in which the rules are akin to a video game. But that is just me. This point, however, is the hard part of the film. Let’s be honest, a lot of the hate for this movie likely comes from “eww! It’s a video game movie!!”
For me, the problem with the movie is one of either acting or writing (I’m not sure which).
Don’t get me wrong, I like the acting on the whole. Michael Cera does a good(though not spectacular) job in the role of Scott Pilgrim. Ellen Wong is excellent is her role as Knives Chau, Aubrey Plaza is exceptionally cast as Julie Powers, and Keiran Culkin steals the movie with his portrayal of Wallace Wells.
My issue with the movie lies in the fact that I just don’t buy that Scott Pilgrim is in love with Ramona Flowers. He says the words, but the looks he gives her are one of awkwardness rather than love. I understand that Cera is playing Scott as more awkward than he needs to be (I wonder why), but that awkwardness is stripping away other expressions. I think this can be seen when either Wong or Winstead interact with Cera, there is a wide range of emotions that are displayed, from puppy love, to romantic love, from heart break to gentle concern. All of those emotions are revealed through facial expressions, not words.
The movie begins rather slow, then picks up speed until it reaches a frenzied conclusion. The best scenes in the film are the boss battles (with a few others).
The movie is really good, perhaps in spite of Scott Pilgrim (or Michael Cera). The final battle where Knives engages in battle is just awesome, any scene with Wallace Wells is fun, and Aubrey Plaza is just viciously hilarious.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is not for everyone. But in the end, it is a delightful film that I really enjoyed.