by Chris Eaton-
Almost two years of hype built up to this moment.
It seemed that Thursday would be the Scott Pilgrim day for me at Comic-Con. After all, not only did I attend the Scott Pilgrim Experience in the Gaslamp district, were I played the Scott Pilgrim game, got a Scott Pilgrim custom shirt, and met the cast of Scott Pilgrim, but also got into the film’s panel. The mere fact that I got into Hall H so late in the day was a miracle on it’s own, but getting into this panel was even better. After all, Scott Pilgrim is one of the four big events here at Con this year – the others being The Walking Dead, Tron Legacy, and Marvel Studios. At the Scott Pilgrim panel, the organizers gave out collectible buttons of the characters (I got Ramona btw). When the panel ended, Edgar Wright announced a surprise. The people who had the 1-Up button, would be seeing the full film a mere 45 minutes after the panel. Like the Pied Piper, it was Wright himself that lead a hall full of geeks down the street to see the film. As you may have guessed by now, I didn’t get into that screening.
I did however, get into the screening today.
Arriving around 3:30 at the Balboa theater, we were greeted by about 100 other people who had the same idea. The screening was scheduled 6:30. This meant that we were three hours early, but there was already a massive line. One that only got bigger. After a near line riot, we were ushered in, and sat down. We were treated to a DJ named Koala and a tiny Pepsi. Around 6:35, Edgar Wright came out, introduced the cast, and then the film. Here at Comic-Con, with almost 1,000 other Scott Pilgrim fans, the film unspooled before a ravenous crowd. This was the litmus test of film. Will it live up to the hype? Would it appease the fans? I’m here to say: Yes. Yes it did. Scott Pilgrim vs the World, is the film that Edgar Wright was born to make. Brian Lee O’Malley’s material is so kinetic, so rich, that I honestly don’t believe that there’s another director working today that would have done it better justice. Wright brought the black and white world of the comic in to full moving color with sound. It’s a visual masterpiece. A symphony for the eyes, and truly one of the best films in a lackluster year of film.
So what’s it about? Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 20-something slacker who lives in Toronto, doesn’t work, and plays in a band with his friend Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and his ex-girlfriend Kim Pine (Allison Pill). Scott starts dating a high schooler named Knives Chau (Eleen Wong) who is 17 years old. Coming off of a bad break up over a year ago, Knives is the safe bet for Scott. But he’s not really happy. It isn’t until he meets the girl of his dreams (literally). An American delivery girl by the name of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elisabeth Winstead). Scott falls head over heels for Ramona, but is kinda still dating Knives. It isn’t until a gig for Sex Bob-Omb (their band) that Scott is forced to fight Ramona’s first evil ex-boyfriend, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), that the two start really dating. There are just two things that stand between Scott and happiness. First, at the behest of his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin) and his sister Stacy (Anna Kendrick) he has to dump Knives. The second? To truly win Ramon’a heart, he must defeat her seven evil exes. All of them lead by the hip douche bag Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).
The story of Scott Pilgrim vs the World is one of love, and fighting for what you love, with a lot of video game and music references thrown in. Running at just about two hours, and written and filmed before the book series was finished, the movie deviates a bit from the comics. That’s not a bad thing though. The story is structured so that instead of a full year, as it is in the books, it takes place over a week and some days. That means that the fight’s between Scott and the Exes are almost on top of each other. The only down side to this compared to the books is the time spent building up the Exes and a few side characters from the books get cut. Sadly, there is no Lisa Miller in this film. Also, there’s less Kim Pine, which was the only sad point for me. Instead, the film focuses on the heart of the story, the relationship between Scott and Ramona, what it takes to make it as a couple, and what people are will do and are willing to do in the name of love. That, and kick a lot of ass video game style.
Lets talk fights for a second. Wright crafted many of the fights very similar to the books. The first fight with Matthew Patel is pretty much right out of the books, magic hipster chicks and all. It’s the most kinetic fight in the film, and the most important one that sets the tone for the rest of the film. The Lucas Lee fight, and every subsequent fight after it, is very much like a game. Each one more difficult for Scott. The bass battle with Todd Ingram is a sight to behold. Ramona gets to fight with her giant hammer against Roxy, and the film even uses a scene right out of the Scott Pilgrim color special comic for this sequence. The fight with the Twins is the biggest CG spectacle in the film, with Sex Bob-Omb dueling with their monster of rock against the twins double dragons of electronic music. Then there’s the fight with Gideon, which is the best boss battle I’ve seen on screen in a while. Wright, using Jackie Chan’s stunt team, made every fight unique, and exciting. A nice slow build to the final battle that pays off so well. You wont believe that it’s Jason Schwartzman and Michael Cera dueling with blazing swords.
Which leads me to the actors.
Some people have been bemoaning the casting of Cera as Scott, but I think he worked perfectly. This is not the usual low tone “oh hey” Michael Cera that we’ve seen before. His performance as Scott is very close to that of the books, and something a bit outside the box for Cera’s usual M.O. Ellen Wong makes you believe that she’s Knives, a young, naïve girl who falls head over heels for Scott. Alison Pill is delightfully sarcastic as Kim. Then there’s Mary Elisabeth Winstead, whose looks and attitude as Ramona would make any straight laced guy fall for her. Everyone in this film was cast perfectly, and there was not one, ONE I say, performance in this film that was anywhere remotely sub-par. Everyone was firing on all cylinders, and with Wright behind the wheel, they drove this baby home!
After the film ended, there was a standing ovation, and Wright, who came back out accompanied by O’Malley, got a wee bit teary eyed. Yes, this is the audience for this film, but, as beloved as the books are, it really could have turned ugly had it it been done wrong. I’m happy to say that the Wright way came through on Scott Pilgrim vs the World. When it’s released on August 13th, I implore you to see this film. If you’ve been beaten down by the mediocrity of this film year, then Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a much-needed breath of fresh air.
It made my Con, and I couldn’t be happier than I am now.