Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Relationships can be difficult; you have to learn to give and take, to compromise on things, to not expect to always get your way. You have to learn to deal not only with your own romantic history, but that of your partner as well. Of course when your partner's romantic history has challenged you to a battle to the death, things may be getting out of hand.

“Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” is based on the “Scott Pilgrim” series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O'Malley, and follows the misadventures of Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera: “Arrested Development”, “Superbad”) as he tries to win the heart of the literal girl-of-his-dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead: “Live Free or Die Hard”).

Scott has obstacles to overcome before claiming the heart of Ramona though: he has to break up with his high school aged girlfriend, Knives (Ellen Wong), survive the sarcasm and dubious of his snarky best friend Wallace (Keiran Culkin), drop his natural tendency to be an oblivious jackass, and defeat all seven of Ramona's evil exes who start to make themselves known as soon as Scott hatches his plan to ask Ramona out.

As important as the actors are, it is the direction of Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”) that plays a big role in bringing the comic book to life complete with costumes and sound effects that look like they jumped off the page of the books. Almost everything in the film from each character's hairstyle to the locations they are at feel like live action versions of their two dimensional black and white counterparts.

The film starts off very faithful to the book, following the first volume very closely, but as the movie progresses it does stray farther and farther from the books, eliminating characters like Mr. Chau and Lisa as well as entire subplots like Sex Bob-Omb's recording an album and Scott's wilderness sabbatical. Of course when you have to condense 6 volumes (one of which wasn't even finished at the time of filming) into a single feature length film you have to expect some cuts. The problem is that some of these cuts have big effects on the overall plot; removing development for some of the secondary characters and causing some fight sequences to be combined or eliminated altogether..

The characters suffer the worst in translation though, with only Wallace and Scott really coming across the same as they did in the books, while Knives, Kim (Alison Pill: “The Pillars of the Earth”), Stephen (Mark Webber), and Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) get little to no development, and as a result don't feel as genuine as they did in the books. The character that suffers the worst from the move from paper to film is Ramona.

In the books Ramona Flowers has a lot more to do; she has scenes of her own, her own fight sequences, and seems like a much stronger and more independent woman. In the movie Ramona comes across more as the damsel-in-distress from the video games that the movie is joking about than the strong fighter she is in the book. Yes, she does have a couple of fight scenes (that are both different than any of the ones in the books), but she is easily the biggest victim of feature length time constraints.

Aside from the pretty standard the-book-was-better kind of complaints though, I really did enjoy this film. Cera did a much better job than I thought he would, and just seeing him in the film's many well choreographed fight sequences is worth it. Sure the movie would have been better served by being split into two parts a la “Kill Bill” or “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, but being targeted as a rather niche audience of gamers and geeks that probably could not have happened.

Ultimately I do recommend this film as long as you are the sort of geek that smiles when you hear “Legend of Zelda” sound effects, recognizes the bass line from Final Fantasy II, and sees nothing illogical about a person turning into a pile of coins when you kill them. While the movie fails to perfectly duplicate the books on the big screen the general flavour of the original story does come through beautifully. Have yourself an epic geekgasm with “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, in theaters now.

No comments: