There is only one word that can really encapsulate this movie: epic. If you ever had any doubt that Edgar Wright could pull off the transition from graphic novel series to movie, you should be ashamed of yourself. Then, rejoice, because Wright’s film adaptation of the popular Scott Pilgrim graphic novels is a masterpiece.
The graphic novels are a six-book series about the titular character, Scott Pilgrim, and his relationship with Ramona Flowers, a mysterious girl that skates into his life. To be with her, though, he has to first defeat her seven evil exes.
The film, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’, covers all six books in just under two hours, which is kind of ridiculous, but Wright pulls it off beautifully. He has a masterful understanding of where to put his camera, how to move it, how to transition between scenes. The film is incredibly fluid, and even though it’s very hyper-realistic and frenetic, we’re not lost.
He does a great job of connecting us to this world and these characters, despite their eccentricities. We’ve all felt like Scott Pilgrim before. We’ve all been alone. We’ve all wanted something so bad we would fight for it. Only, here, Scott literally has to fight seven people for Ramona. Which brings us to…
…The fight scenes. Oh man. The choreography and cinematography and effects for the fights scenes are unreal. They’re so kinetic and visceral and, well, epic. And he switches it up enough to where it never gets boring or tedious. Just as soon as one approach starts to wear out its welcome, he changes gears and we get a totally different approach that works just as well.
The acting in this film is brilliant. From the big stars to the tiny side-characters, everyone has character. They all feel like their own person, even if they are a very stylized version of that person. Michael Cera does something really curious here, which I think he and Wright both deserve a lot of credit for. He’s able to play the same kind of loser awkward character that’s made his career, while at the same time within that role, completely breaking out of that mold and changing as a character. His performance is really fantastic, and it’s so much fun to watch. Another great performance is Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, Scott’s highschool girlfriend. She’s phenomenal here, and I think this is the start to a very successful career.
The pacing in this film is something to study. It’s relatively short for dealing with six books, but it doesn’t feel crammed or rushed, and conversely it doesn’t feel tired, either. Each villain is characterized quickly and well. Even though we don’t meet the “big bad guy” till almost the end of the film, he’s characterized so well that we already hate him more than anyone else.
The effects and CGI are wonderful, and surprisingly not gimmicky. They help give us the feel of Scott’s world, and the way he perceives it; like a video game. His life is a game to him, and he either wins or loses. I don’t think it spoils anything to say that by the end of the film, he realizes that life is more than a game. But you’ll just have to go see it for yourself.
This film is the most fun you’ll have at the theaters this summer. It’s a pure joy ride from beginning to end. It’s got a lot of heart, it’s got a lot of laughs; there’s no reason not to see it. So go watch it. Support original stories and films in Hollywood. And support one of the few directors working today whose voice always comes through in his work.
Then go see it again.