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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. Hollywood: a Scott Pilgrim Experience Review

Scott Pilgrim Trailer redone using comic panels.

I absolutely loved Bryan Lee O'Malley's '
Lost At Sea', from the teenager angst to the simply beautiful, solemn and quirky artwork, but when his next series, 'Scott Pilgrim' came out I thought it seemed to silly or something, and it never really caught my attention.

Until one day my good friend Reilly Brown said that I HAD to read it. There were just too many similarities between Scott's life and my own. Granted I wasn't an early 20's bassist in Canada, but I was a slacker with a young ex with a penchant for blades, and relationship drama mixed with oblivious comedy sounded about right.

The comic melted my brain. It was an indie book, with characters that just hung out, went to parties, and meandered through their lives. It was a battle book where suddenly a duel would take place with superpowered kung fu. Scott was clueless and yet you couldn't keep him down for long. It was rock'n'roll mixed with subtle video game moments. What was this?

The comic makes you love the characters, from the bitchy Julie Powers, to snarky Kim Pine, to vulnerable Knives Chau. Stephen Stills cowboy shirts, Young Neil's haircuts, and Wallace Wells dry wit, these were all iconic people in Scott Pilgrim's universe, well rounded and each given their moments, their personalities developed organically through the volumes.

Now, I must say, I love Edgar Wright. I've seen his BBC series Spaced at least three times through, and. Shaun of the Dead was brilliant in its skirting of the fine line between horror and comedy. Hot Fuzz was a sophmore dip, but it had tons of fun moments. This was an amazing storyteller of a director with a ton of geeky influences and a plethora of visual tricks.

So when I heard that he was directing Scott Pilgrim vs the World, it was like nothing I've experienced as a fanboy. My favorite superheroes have yet to make it to the big screen, and the closest I got to having one of my all-time favorite graphic novels translated to film well was V For Vendetta, which I quite liked. But this was different.

Here we had excellent source material with loveable characters, fun violent action, and a director that seemed to be perfectly suited for the lighthearted tone this adaptation would need. It features a bunch of actors I really enjoy, and with the teaser images Wright posted on his
Flickr all last year while filming, it appeared it was devoutly faithful. Would it live up to the trailer that gave me chills when I first saw it?

Yes. Yes, it did. But do I feel some sort of deflated feeling after following the internet media push that was almost as entertaining as the comic itself? Yes, it's done, out into the ether to be consumed by the masses. In a few weeks it'll be half-remembered, perhaps quoted, inspiring new fans to track down the books, sport Plumtree t-shirts, and maybe start their own bands (like me).

Around Christmas we'll get the DVD release, maybe some rad extra features, behind the scenes, video game samples, etc. I'll pick up the special edition collection of all six volumes, complete with unreleased material as soon as it comes out. And there it'll sit for future enjoyment at a whim.

This time will never be captured again. Like seeing that epic band performance at the coliseum where you got the tour shirt that'll be expensive vintage for futuristic hipsters who were never there in the moment. But there's something about films that makes them timeless, just as we can enjoy classics from the past on Blu-Ray.

Now, as for the movie itself, (I had to explain all the emotions and thoughts involved to properly process my feelings) the first half is perfection. This is Scott Pilgrim's comic/video game universe come to life. The fantastic camera movements, the interactive narration and title cards introducing our main characters, the true performances that sell them as their graphic novel counterparts, it's all there.

The first half is almost shot for shot the introduction, I remembered the exact angle and background when Scott first sees Ramona at the library. I got giddy. Then suddenly new elements pop up, or small bits skipped over (which is flawlessly handled by Wright as he cuts a sharp turn from scene to scene), and then you realize that this is a movie of Scott Pilgrim.

I tried to not be that elitist fanboy that makes mental notes about what's missing and lines that were different, but it popped up now and again. And I told myself that O'Malley hadn't even completed volume six until months after filming had wrapped, so of course it would be different. There wasn't time for Julie & Stephen's drama, or Scott & Ramona to move in together.

And though I had slight problems with the end of volume six, it felt complete, satisfying. So the movie would have to do the same. And logically, I feel it satisfying me, but emotionally, something wasn't there. The fights came fast and frantic in the second half, never really letting Scott & Ramona to settle into being a couple. Those scenes were Scott gets a job or has birthday were what makes them the couple I know them as.

But yes, it's a two hour film so, I try and take it as a complete story, and it works. There's conflict and resolution and we're given an identical ending to the comic really, if not slightly stripped down and amped up for a more one on one style fight. What matters is the spirit is there. Scott earns the power of love and levels up, Sex-Bob-Omb rocks out, and Evil Exs are defeated.

I'd call that a flawless victory.

Ps- you can stream the
soundtrack and the score, and my takes on those are that between them both is a solid album, if only the kickass Sex-Bob-Omb songs were on the score. My particular favorite is 'Summertime' which has been stuck in my head for days.

Now, who wants to start a band with me?

To find out how I even got into the screening and reflections on what it must feel like to create something that becomes comsumed by pop culture,
check out my personal blog.

You can also see all things Scott Pilgrim (including the video game pitch trailer, the remix videos, interviews and more) over at
Write Club's Tumblr.

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