Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Film #224

THE PLOT

Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to win her heart.

Year 1, Day 221

BEFORE: This was a late addition to the romance chain this month but it should fit nonetheless. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based off a graphic novel of a similar name, Scott Pilgrim, and this film adaptation stars Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, both new to the marathon.

AFTER: It’s been a long day and I had to postpone writing this review until a few hours after watching the film, so apologies upfront if this makes less sense than normal or is less comprehensive.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is very much inspired by the graphic novel it was based off of. I’ve been told that most of the dialogue is taken directly from the novel as well as many of the visual cues. But even coming as an outsider to this franchise the connection is very apparent. In many ways this is not a typical film. Rather it’s more like a taking the graphic novel and making the pictures move. I liked this style for the most part but it was over-the-top in some parts and distracted from the story in others.

This comic book style has two main components that I noticed: the visual layout and the sound design. For the visuals not only did you get the “Ring” or “Pow” descriptions appearing on screen, but there was also experimentation with the aspect ratio and enlarging the entire frame (i.e. start with black bars and push in until the frame fills the screen). For the audio there were many great homages to other video games, films, TV shows, and other areas of pop culture. My favorite has to be the little Seinfeld riff before entering Scott Pilgrim’s (Michael Cera) apartment. The important thing to know about this style is that, while it’s different, it very much works. I feel I’ve taken points off other films for not changing their medium when adapted to film and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World falls into this category - it really is a comic book on film - but it works.

Except in certain situations. At times I’m only paying attention to the visuals and completely ignoring what is actually going on. There is just so much going on visually (flying text, animated objects, changing frame) that it distracts from an otherwise interesting story. Sure it’s a bit blasé and the characters aren’t the best in cinema history, but they are still characters that bring entertainment. It’s fun to watch Scott battle Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seven exes and the B-story of Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) or Scott’s roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin). But when your eyes are constantly scanning the screen to take everything in, something could be done better.

I’ll wrap up here by saying that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a very decent film. Going into it I had neutral expectations and there were places where it surpassed expectations and others where it wasn’t so great. Fans of graphic novels will probably enjoy this film, everyone else: it should be an interesting film to see.

RATING: 3 out of 5