I’m in a tough place here. On the one hand, I’m a huge fan of the Scott Pilgrim comic series. On the other hand, I just saw the live action version starring Michael Cera, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and I’m a fan of that, too. So how shall this movie review go down? Like this, yo. Let’s rock!
Immediately after finishing the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, I came to the conclusion that I’d really like to see it in some sort of live action context. I used to produce short segments for my university’s variety program, so I figured, “Hey, maybe I should do this?” Then I looked up a big more on Scot Pilgrim and saw that someone else had already beaten me to it (Edgar Wright) and cast Michael Cera in the titular role of an epically awesome-looking movie. I mean, just check at that first trailer, or any trailer really, and it’ll be hard to have any sort of patience waiting to see the real movie.
I was happy the instant the movie started. The usual previews rolled by, and Kyle and I turned to each other to give our five-second reviews of the trailers like, “Oh yes, that looks pretty cool,” or “Why are they making this crap?” Then suddenly the Universal logo came on all digitized with chiptunes sound and I knew the movie was starting right. The very next thing that happened was the intro music from Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past playing to introduce us to Scott’s little slice of Toronto. If this doesn’t let you know that everyone involved in the project “got” the graphic novel, you probably meant to go watch Eat, Pray, Love instead.
The movie plays out, more or less, as a Cliffnotes version of the six books. I was completely fine with this for a few reasons. First, I realized that six books worth of material wasn’t going to be able to make it onto screen, particularly things that just don’t translate well when jumping from a comic to a movie, such as a long interlude in the books where Scott goes on a nature sabbatical and has a bunch of introspection with Kim. Secondly, I knew that the movie just wanted to be its own thing anyway, and while it stays relatively close to the book’s plot, it changes a few things around as it sees fit.
The biggest change from the books to the film is undoubtedly the resolution, as I’m aware pretty much every other review is pointing out. The ultimate ending is still the same, but the final sequence changes fairly radically compared to how the book plays out. I’m okay with the change, but I’ll get into whether I preferred the book or the movie in just a little bit, so hold on.
In terms of matching the characters to actors, they nailed this one almost as closely as they could. Everyone acts and looks like his or her respective character, though my initial hesitation of Michael Cera as Scott carried through even till the end of the movie. I just couldn’t like him as much as the comic version. He did his usual Michael Cera character, a character I still like well enough, and it worked about as well as it needed to, but he didn’t feel like Scott Pilgrim; He felt like Michael Cera in a Scott Pilgrim movie.
The best casting choice would have to be Kieran Culkin as Wallace. Every time Culkin is on camera, you’re guaranteed a laugh. Alison Pill also hit Kim Pine pretty closely, to my surprise. I’d list off all the good casting choices, but I’d just end up listing off the whole cast. My two favorites were Culkin and Pill whereas my least favorites were Cera and to some extent Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers. She did just fine, but her hair was bugging me the whole time, so maybe that wasn’t really her fault.
Okay, action sequences. Holy cow, the action sequences were awesome. They’re even better than I could have hoped. Edgar Wright took his directing duties to the max and it shows here with gusto. Even if you can’t connect to the plot or the main characters, there’s always something cool to look at. It’s about as close as you’ll get to watching a comic happen in real life.
So did I like the movie better than the comic? I don’t want to feel like a snob, but I preferred the ending of the comic over the movie’s final act, just because of how overly epic the book gets. This isn’t to say I didn’t think the movie was freaking excellent, though, because the movie is freaking excellent. Even the little nit-picky things I brought up like Cera cast as Cera is just me searching for things to whine about. Scott Pilgrim vs The World is the best movie adaptation anyone could ever hope to make from the source material, and it’s one of the best movies currently playing now or overall for this year. Go see this movie. Scott Pilgrim wins movie. Game Over.
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