Standing in for the Internet is me. I saw it, yes, and if 1up.com is allowed to write a review about it, then so am I.
So, Scott Pilgrim. What did I think?
I liked it. I think it was well-made, and I think it was a good adaptation. I feel a little disappointed, but I can’t really determine what by. I think, honestly, I was too distracted as I watched it by the subtle changes to the pacing of the comics–the movie doesn’t follow the manga’s order of events, but it generally fits all the events in there. It’s like clever reediting of the comic, and I approve–but it was distracting for most of the film.
Then I had to get used to the casting. I never fully bought into Michael Cera as Scott, but he does well here. He’s got enough of Scott’s attributes that it doesn’t seem like he’s derailing the character in anyway. He’s Scott–but he’s not necessarilly the one you imagined.
I derail myself slightly to discuss something I read in Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” textbook. In it, he discusses realistically drawn comics and cartoons. Realistic comics can show off more detail in terms of characters and settings, but cartoons get something special. The more simple the drawing, the more the reader imparts their own imagination into it. So, a cartoon smiley looks however you want it to–your mind constructs an image for it, rather than have an image given to it. So, Scott Pilgrim is well known for its distinctive, manga-esque, cartoony style. People get upset about the casting because no actor could ever match what they’d seen in their mind’s eye. The way the characters are interpreted by the reader/audience is unique to every individual reader’s preferences. Scott’s lines, his attitude, his tone and type of voice, his physical appearance are all generated by the reader’s mind, and as such, may not reflect either what the author intended the character to be or how others see the character. Edgar Wright must have taken this into account, and probably just decided to do how HE envisioned the Scott Pilgrim universe to be. No cast could ever cater to everyone’s unique tastes, and with that in mind, the movie’s cast is quite solid.
Everyone gives an energetic performance, the pacing and chemistry between characters is generally pretty good. The movie’s overabundance of style leads to some conversations sounding stilted or forced if only because the actors are also reacting to strange events happening around them, or else are making a pose or performing an action that requires a lot of concentration. Cera’s Scott is definitely not a rehash of his earlier characters–the similarities are there, but they are more token than anything else. Cera does his best to embody Scott’s doofy sort of simplicity and it comes across well, even if it…well, I don’t know. In the end, I still don’t fully buy Cera as Scott. I don’t think it’s any fault of the actor, but I do think it was a bad casting. I can’t imagine who could do Scott to be honest. Maybe a young Will Ferrell. My friend suggested that to me one day and I laughed, at first, but it made sense. Ferrell’s so damned flexible and emotive, capable of hitting highs and lows quickly and effortlessly–if only he was twenty years younger and didn’t have curly hair he could absolutely play Scott. But that’s a digression.
The movie is definitely all about its action sequences. At least half are completely different from what was seen in the comics–which is an added treat for the theater audience. We get much more kung-fu, and crazy-awesome sound effects bounding around everywhere. The style is cool, the comedy is present, and there’s always a rockin’ sound track to accompany it all. Best of all, Sex Bob-Omb, the band Scott is in, is brought to life vividly; leading us into the opening credits and accompanying us throughout the movie. The band holds the movie together as a set piece, a traveling bit of familiarity and fun to mesh all of these scenes together. The music is stellar, fast and loud and crazy as hell, both funny and foot-tappingly strong. The band members grow on you immensely as well.
The supporting cast is done really well. Gorgeous Anna Kendrick plays Scott’s little sister pitch-perfect. Kieran Culkin is really good as Wallace too–he has that sleazy, yet charming sort of aloofness, and probably remains one of the better cast characters. Knives Chau, a very important character, is also very well done. Newcomer Ellen Wong gets the spazzy, obsessive nature of the character as well as her determined, stoic side, and she manages to steal the show in many a scene, though, like in the comics, Knives is a character that starts to grate on you, and the best part of her subplot–her father trying to cut Scott in half for a whole volume–is sadly not in the movie.
A lot was cut, mostly for the better–the movie is overloaded with conversations as it is, so a lot of the character-developing filler was left out. Sadly, most of the Envy Adams chapter got removed as well. She shows up and plays her part and gets a few good scenes, but she’s scarcely more than window dressing compared to the comics. I feel they could have left some of the flashbacks to Scott’s past–if not kept all of them–and not lost too many people in the audience. They really develop Scott, which is important because he’s kind of a dick. He’s called out on it many a time in this movie and in the books, but you really feel for him once you know a little about where he came from and what he’s gone through.
Oh, and of course, the movie is [i]loaded[/i] with video game references. The screen is awash with bleeps and bloops, eight bit numbers, all sorts of stuff. The pop culture overload is embraced whole-heartedly. Indeed, this movie gets that probably best of all, able to bring sound and motion to what were otherwise just throwaway remarks. Most noticeable is a part where Scott mentions he can play the bass line from Final Fantasy II and then just starts strumming away. Most of the references were expanded upon in this way, which makes for another nice treat to the movie public.
Having seen it once and am now familiar with the way the movie goes, I think I’ll enjoy it much more the second time I see it. It’s definitely worth catching in theaters and grabbing on DVD–or Blu-Ray preferably. It’s very fun, certainly on par with Kick-Ass.
Plus, y’know, it’s Scott Pilgrim: the movie. Are you really NOT gonna want to see it?