Medium Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Due to unexpected good fortune your protagonists were able to see a sneak preview of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World on Tuesday, here’s what Tony thought:

One sentence summary for folks who haven’t read the comics: Canadian slacker/rocker Scott Pilgrim falls for Ramona Flowers but discovers he must defeat the league of Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes if he is to date her.  (Maybe you’d like to watch the trailer.)

Is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World a good movie and/or a good adaptation of a comic? I have a hard time thinking about the movie without dissecting the choices Edgar Wright makes in adapting the six volume graphic novel series to a 2 hour movie. I knew going into it that the movie would have to make some tricky choices about pacing and cutting scenes and characters. The graphic novels chronicling the ups and downs of a year in Scott Pilgrim’s life work fine as discrete chapters but would probably feel awkward as movie. So the movie takes place over a few weeks (time passes oddly in Toronto) with Ramona’s exes coming at Scott fast and furiously. The backstories of Ramona’s exes are heavily condensed or basically not explored at all in some cases. Scott’s relationship with his drummer and girlfriend Kim Pine, a source of ongoing tension and slow reveal in the comic, is more or less gone in the movie.  A variety of secondary characters are omitted or make only token appearances (we never see The Clash at Demonhead’s cyborg drummer in action for example.) Also worth noting: the movie was completed before Bryan Lee O’Malley finished the sixth book in the series, so though they clearly knew how he was planning to end the series it won’t be exactly the same. Balancing out for the adjustments to characters (and some plot points) fans of the comic will be happy to see a surprising number of scenes recreated shot for shot with the original dialogue in place.

So after you finish obsessing on all the little adjustments and tweaks to the plot and characters how is it at a movie? Pretty good I’d say. Consistently funny and amusing with great visuals it was fun the whole way through. The music of Scott’s Band Sex Bob-omb (provided by Beck) adds a lot to the experience that obviously wasn’t there in the comics, and works as a great example of how adapting a comic means you can do a lot more than just filming it shot for shot. The actors were all fine and the degree to which they looked like their comic counterparts is uncanny in places. Overall Scott Pilgrim vs. The World does a great job of faithful adapting much of the source material while also being fun and creative.

Reading other reviews of the movie which criticize the surreal elements of the story suggest to me that unsurprisingly the people who wouldn’t have enjoyed the comic wouldn’t enjoy the movie. I particularly like how one critic derided the movie as un-appealing to anyone who didn’t grow up with Nintendo (or as I call them, super old people.)

I liked Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and I hope you will too.

[…] has already regaled you with the tale of our adventure to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and his review—as with most things Tony says—is spot on. In some ways, as we discussed after the film, it […]

Don’t forget that as well as Beck we have Broken Social Scene as Crash and the Boys :)