Madness at the Movies: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Man, I love the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels.  In case you don’t remember, my love for Scott Pilgrim is so strong that I attended a midnight release party for the sixth and final book, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. The series is funny, heartwarming, and full of awesome action and video game references.

Well, now we get Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, an adaptation of all six books, wrapped up into one epic movie of epic epicness.  That’s right, all six books are jam packed into one movie.  Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright got the job of directing a cast, headed by Michael Cena and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  Did the movie live up to my love of the books?

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, for those who haven’t seen any trailers or read any of the books, tell the story of ol’ Scott, who’s met a beautiful girl named Ramona.  They start dating, just for Scott to find out that, in order for them to live happily ever after, he needs to fight (and defeat) her seven EVIL exes.  Sounds pretty easy, when you’re as skilled as Scott…except when one of them has super powers, another has ninja skills, and one can fly…surrounded with singing vampire girls.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is probably the most ADD movie you’re likely to see…maybe ever.  I’ve always said that, despite the fact that an hour and a half of pure action sounds like a great idea in theory…it does get old after a while.  And I think that’s my main problem with the movie.  It never slows down…but, because of that, it has almost the opposite effect.  While some of the best moments of the books have been transplanted into the movie, the main thing it’s missing is the heart the book had.  You got to see characters age and progress and mature.  The movie abbreviates character arcs for almost a dozen characters into one two hour long flick and, because of it, you lose a lot of the emotional investment in the story.  You never really feel like Scott and Ramona are in love, nor do you really understand why he loves her, despite the fact that she sleeps with him on the first date.

That’s not to say I hated the movie.  I actually really enjoyed the hell out of it.  Edgar Wright injects so much humor and awesomeness into the visual style of the film, it begs repeat viewings.  There are a ton of fun video game and comic references that are perfect for fans like us.  The film is incredibly fun, and the actors (especially Winstead) put in solid jobs.  Another strength of the film is the music.  Sex Bob-omb, the band that Scott plays bass in, sounds better than I actually expected (probably because their music was done by Beck), but ya know what…the soundtrack kicks ass.  The night after watching the flick, I instantly jumped on iTunes to pick up the soundtrack – a ton of great stuff.

To answer the fans directly – yes, there are a TON of differences between the film and the books.  In addition to the aforementioned lack of emotional weight, there are a ton of story changes in an effort to fit it all in one movie (plus, the books weren’t finished when the movie went into production).  I didn’t mind the story changes…just wished the story had been given the time to flesh out that it really needing.

You’re going to have a blast watching Scott Pilgrim…though, if you weren’t keen on the trailer, the movie isn’t going to change your mind.  Still, it’s a unique filmgoing experience, literally like nothing you’ve seen before…and how often can we say that?  I just wish it had the same heart that the books did.

Paul's Awesomeness Score - 7 out of 10

Now, some comments from our buddy Wayne on the flick:

I HATED the comics, but LOVED the movie. Mostly I hated the comic because the first one was a serious relationship story about Scott and Knives and I really enjoyed that feel. The writer hooked me and the direction change lost me. The story they told really needed to be a moving visual tale to do it justice and the movie did that wonderfully.

It is pure popcorn action flick that doesn’t even remotely take itself serious. It right out of the gate hits you with a whole new level of cheese. There are a few visual subtleties, but everything else just hits you smack in the head. I described it on twitter as the most ADD movie that I have ever seen because it can’t stand still or focus for even a second.  This unfortunately made my wife motion sick at times. It just keeps throwing things at you.

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