Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is above all things a comic book movie. However, it differentiates itself from the typical super-hero-focused piece by incorporating other film genres. It is also a romantic comedy, an action movie, a video game movie, and might even be considered an indie flick….and that is just the problem with it. The film has its hands in far too many cookie jars to be a completely coherent and meaningful movie. What is even more peculiar, is that despite all of these competing aspects, the film still felt drawn out and dare I say empty. Perhaps it is the audience getting tired of Michael Cera playing the same absent-minded young man, perhaps it is the way that the (fully mature) main characters in this movie behave like children, or the self-indulgent tendencies of the script. I would say that I was disappointed by this film, especially since I thoroughly enjoyed director Edgar Wright’s previous big hits (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), but was still entertained. So, as strange as it seems to me to say, if you want to see a romantic comedy that is more about visuals and action than heart or character, you should check out this movie. Otherwise, I am sure Hollywood will come up with something better in this department soon.
Synopsis: 23 year old Scott Pilgrim lives the easy life. No job, but he is part of a rock band trying to make it big. He’s also got a girlfriend who is in high school with whom he enjoys spending time. Suddenly though, a mysterious young woman named Ramona Flowers enters his dreams and his life. Scott becomes obsessed with her, but soon finds out that in order to date her, he must first defeat her seven evil exes. These exes, it turns out, all have superpowers and have more to do with Scott’s life than he realizes. Soon he is facing them in battle, and in doing so, fighting some of the demons in his own life.
Acting: Michael Cera is his usual complacent, down-to-earth self, and while he is genuinely funny and sincere at the correct moments I found his character to be annoying. He is just lazy and immature, and I found it hard to care what happened to him by the end of the movie. It was apparent that he had a good time making the movie, but that is about it. Ellen Wong plays Pilgrim’s high school girl friend convincingly enough. Mary Elizabeth Winstead puts in a good, believable performance as Ramona Flowers, maybe because her character does not spend the entire movie moping around. The supporting cast is also good too, being both entertaining and charming at the same time, but again I found it hard to feel for what happened to them since the writing made them all seem so selfish. Okay (18/25)
- Michael Cera: Okay
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Good
- Ellen Wong: Good
- Supporting Cast: Okay
Script/Plot: The movie is very innovative in the way it uses quick scenes to advance the story, similar to a comic book. The problem is that the plot loses steam half way through, as the movie devolves into Scott fighting one ex after another until the inevitable final battle. There’s an attempt at connecting the battles to other aspects of Scott’s life, but the special effects overpower everything else to the point that even if the dialogue is witty it is never funny enough or meaningful enough to carry the plot. Too bad, because the beginning section and very end of the movie are written so well. Okay (15/25)
- Dialogue: Good
- Script: Okay
- Plot: Okay
- Themes/Messages: Okay
Direction: The way in which the movie is packaged and delivered by director Edgar Wright is impressive. It teeters back and forth from seeming like Scott is in an action-packed video game to a sappy romantic comedy without feeling forced. It is perhaps the best example so far of literally taking a comic book and putting it onscreen. Impressive as well are the quick transitions used to show a passage of time, although I do admit that I can see some people having a hard time both understanding and being comfortable with these. In all though, the movie’s construction is just as witty as its content. Good (22/25)
- Professionalism: Good
- Flow: Good
- Editing: Good
Special Effects: Probably the best aspect of this movie are its special effects. The fight scenes are entertaining and interesting to watch, even if they don’t necessarily advance the story along as much as they should. The special effects define this movie, contrasting it with the typical comic book movie and giving it more of an attitude. Maybe it is because the movie doesn’t take itself so seriously, so you never question whether or not something onscreen is physically possible, and instead just sit back and enjoy. Good (25/25)
- Special Effects: Good
- Music: Good
- X-Factor: Good
The Verdict: (79/100) = C+ (Watchable….and almost recommended)
- What’s Good: Its an innovative and fun take on the traditional comic book movie, with equally innovative and fun direction and special effects.
- What’s Bad: The story is just coasting after an initially interesting first 45 minutes, leaving you only Michael Cera’s predictable acting and selfish characters you wish would grow up.
- Summary: The fun visuals of the original comic book survived the translation to the big screen, the story did not.
My previous review: Rated: Battle Royale (2001)
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