“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” stars Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman. Released on August 13, 2010, the film is about a slacker musician who must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes.
The film was directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed films such as “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “The World’s End”, and “Baby Driver”. It is based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. You want to know what it feels like to read a comic book, play a video game, and watch a music video at the same time while being high on drugs? Then have I got a film for you. Two months ago, I reviewed a film that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, which is Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. Today, I’m reviewing another film that is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and it’s something that I remember fondly. Back in the day, I usually go to the movies with my mother even though I was old enough to drive. Then one day at the mall, I convinced her that I would see it on my own at the built-in AMC theater while she does her errands, and the rest is history. That was the day that lead me to feel comfortable with navigating the cinema and pay for the tickets and snacks all by myself, and I got this film to thank for it. It also got me interested in Edgar Wright’s other works, so bonus points for that. Despite not being as successful as Wright and Universal Pictures had been hoping for in terms of the box office, the film went on to become a cult classic and became well-known by critics and audiences for its transmedia storytelling, which is combining many different techniques to form a compelling narrative. I believe that this is one of the films that I shared my thoughts on earlier on Facebook more than five years ago. You know, before I decided to make my blog. Now that I have my own website, I decided to give this one the proper review it deserves, and what better way to do that than during its tenth anniversary celebration? Like my other classic reviews, I will do my best to not give away any major spoilers in case you haven’t watched the film nor read the source material it’s based on.
The film tells the story of Scott Pilgrim (Cera). He’s a 22-year-old slacker who lives with his roommate Wallace Wells (Culkin) and plays for a garage band known as Sex Bob-Omb that consists of him and his friends Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Kim Pine (Pill). He’s also dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a high-school student who’s also a “Scott-aholic”. One day, Scott takes an interest in Ramona Flowers (Winstead), a young woman who works as an Amazon delivery girl. In order to date Ramona, however, he must challenge and defeat her seven evil super-powered ex-boyfriends. Why did they have superpowers? I have no idea. He also attempts to help the band win a competition that is sponsored by record executive Gideon Graves (Schwartzman). In addition to combining action and comedy with romance, the film represents a narrative that uses visual elements and easter eggs from comic books, video games, and music videos to create a surreal and somehow irresistible experience that felt fresh and exciting. After a decade since its release, it still has that same appeal that will satisfy those who are curious as well as people who grew up reading comics and playing arcade games with their friends. This is a film that’s never afraid to have fun and be creative with its bizarre concept, and it’s all thanks to Edgar Wright’s superb sense of direction. Wright had a clever way of mixing the fundamentals of action and comedy with a substance that audiences can relate to, resulting in a blockbuster that’s both riveting and heartfelt. While the “romance” part can be a bit corny at times, it didn’t get to the point where it made the entire film unwatchable thanks to the chemistry between the cast. Its screenplay by Michael Bacall and Wright did well in showcasing the basics of teen awkwardness and its coming-of-age themes like taking responsibility for one’s own mistakes, learning to let things go, and of course, understanding the true meaning of love. I believe that people who either experienced that phase themselves or are experiencing it right now should be able to relate to its themes while they drown themselves in the sea of geek culture. The cast in the film did a great job with their performances, especially Cera and Winstead as Scott and Ramona respectively. I think there are some critics who had mixed feelings towards Cera’s performance, but honestly, I thought he nailed his character perfectly. Scott has a sense of awkwardness that makes himself likable and flawed and leads him to make some pretty dumb mistakes, mostly the ones that involve love. Michael Cera was able to successfully manifest this type of personality through his mannerisms and tone. I guess you can say that this is my favorite performance from him so far. Kieran Culkin also did really well with his role as Wallace Wells in terms of the humor, and the actors that portrayed the seven evil exes were some of the best parts of the film, especially Evans and Routh as Lucas Lee and Todd Ingram respectively. These actors knew how to have fun with their characters without taking themselves too seriously. The real cherry on top of the colorful sundae was the visual style and the soundtrack. Not only did the style offer a unique and dazzling perspective on the genre, but it also worked extremely well with the teen-related humor, the references from specific comic books and video games, and the nicely-choreographed action sequences. They made the film look like the holy grail of geek fandom. The visual effects looked amazing back when it first came out, and after rewatching it now, I’m glad to say that they haven’t aged a bit. My only concern is that some of the visuals may have a negative effect on people who have experiences with epilepsies, so if you’re one of them, proceed with caution. I also have to give props to the film’s amazing soundtrack for its mixture of rock music and video game music. Interesting fact: the film’s score was provided by Nigel Godrich, who is known for working with Radiohead as the band’s producer, which would explain why the film is so obsessed with rock and roll.
Overall, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is something that you have to see to believe. Not just for the story, the action, and the comedy, but for the uniqueness in its narrative. This is one of my favorite films of the 2010s because of what it brought to the experience. The visual style and the soundtrack are the two major things that made the film special in its own right, and they are backed up by its cast, Wright’s direction, and its themes. It still holds up well after a decade, and I hope it continues to hold up in the years to come and maybe inspire others to provide their own sense of imagination in their own narratives. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do so.