So, a warning: this will be a long-winded review, more so than most of my reviews. This film worked on me in so many levels that I’m sure by the end of this, you will think that this review will the equivalent of a Twilight blogger talking about the importance of Taylor Lautners bare chest. But man, I have a lot to say.
I think the best way I could put my thoughts together is to break my feelings of the flick down in chunks, explaining the different reasons why this movie worked on me. So like the amount of Ramona’s evil exes, I got seven topics on how I love this movie.
1. It’s a brilliant adaptation: If you’ve read my last two blogs about adaptations,(see here: http://tiny.cc/i9bm5, and here: http://tiny.cc/xopgi) finding the right balance between being true to the source material and finding your own voice is very tricky. I think this film should be a textbook example of how to this right. Future comic adaptations should take note on what this film did.
When the film does the scenes straight from the comic, I smiled at how well they did it (Wallace’s drunk scene with Scott was so perfect I couldn’t stop squealing.) but when the film does deviate, (Roxy’s fight with Scott is completely different from the books) they still find ways to incorporate OTHER scenes, lines, or moments from the series. Even when they don’t go that far, the new ideas they come up with still fit. The change in the Lucas Lee fight(having them fight while Lucas is shooting a movie scene) was a great cinematic change and still fits the tone of the whole series. I mean, they even made the use of comic book sound efx text in a smart and non distracting manner.
2. It’s got a great cast: The casting was so spot on here, and each one giving one memorable performance after another.
First off, Micheal Cera IS Scott Pilgrim. It was the concern for many fans for a while, (even me) but Cera nails it. The first scene in the film proved it for me. The tone of his performance, the attitude, is so spot on Scott Pilgrim. Micheal is playing the role kinda differently then what you would think a “Micheal Cera” role is. He only really slips in to his usual schtick when the scene calls for it, but I think it fits the film and it doesn’t bother me.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s challenge is to make sure Ramona doesn’t come off as a bitch. If we don’t like Ramona, then the film fails. Winstead rises to the challenge. Her performance convincingly conveys a quiet hurt. Not to spoil the ending(and I’m not) but the look on her eyes at the end of the film says so much.
Newcomer Ellen Wong is going to break the hearts of young boys (and some men). I’ll be honest, Knives Chau was not really a favorite character from the books for me. She was always in danger of being annoying, but Ellen brings so much charm and heart to the role. Kinda like how J.K. Simmons’s performance as J. Jonah Jameson got me to love the character in the Spider-Man films, Wong made Knives into a character that I loved.
Alison Pill and Mark Webber does great things with their role as Kim Pine and Stephen Stills (with Pill really nailing the sarastic tone of Kim), but I want to focus on Johnny Simmons for a second. Johnny plays Young Neil, a character from the books I had little reaction to. He was decent character, but not one of much note for me. Simmons took that character and does wonders with him. There’s a scene were Simmons is standing on the side of the stage as the band plays, and he quietly sings a long with the song. That fucking killed me.
I could go on. Kieran Culkin stealing every scene he’s in as Wallace Wells, Chris Evans KILLING as Lucas Lee, Brandon Routh showcasing killer timing as Todd Ingram, Satya Bhabha setting the tone of the Evil Exes perfectly as Matthew Patel, and Jason Schwartzman rules as Gideon Graves. God, I haven’t even mentioned Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman and… I need to go on to the next topic, I could do a whole blog on the cast alone.
3. It’s a good romantic comedy: There’s realistic emotions going on here. When you go out with someone new, you want to believe that their ex is a terrible person, or else why would they dump the person your with right? Whenever you get out of a long and emotional break up, you still want companionship. You want the next relationship to be easy and simple, and that’s what you try to find.
Both the comic and the film found a fun and unique way to exam these feelings and themes. A lot of people have been through the emotions that these characters have been. Yeah, there are plenty of laughs that go with these, but they never forget to take the feelings from a real and relatable place, unlike a movie say… ANY other romantic comedy in the last 10 years.
4. It’s a rockin musical: One of the hard things to convey in the comics is the music, which the film has a great advantage over it. The music is great with authentic songs from the likes of Metric, Broken Social Scene, Chris Murphy, and Beck(!!). The music sounds like legitimate rock music, the songs “Threshold” and “Black Sheep” being my two favorites.
I also love the detail in the sound design for the songs. Sex-Bob-Ombs music sounds like it was recorded in a garage while The Clash at Demonhead has that slick studio sound. I also love how the music performances were visually interpreted. You can and hear and SEE how the band plays with the great use of the animation lines. That visual look was especially helpful in one of the coolest battle of the bands sequences in films…maybe because of the fact that the bands are actually BATTLING!
5. It’s a bad ass martial arts movie: For a while, I’ve been obsess with watching asian action films. Hong Kong, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese….I’ve seen tons. In the last 15 years I can name a few films in Hollywood that reach the level of well shot fight scenes that these asian films have. Scott Pilgrim can now be added on that list.
It must be said how good the film is that it’s taken me this long to write about the action. The rest of the movie can be total garbage but I could still say the action scenes are great. I’ve sat through worse films for an amazing action scene. The fact that I love the rest of the movie only makes the fight scenes even better.
They are brilliantly shot. Edgar Wright knew that he had to have plenty of long, wide takes to see the fight choreography. He knew how to cut in, when to slow down and when to ramp it up. I haven’t seen this much inventiveness in martial arts battles since Stephen Chow. (Director of Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer)
6. It’s the film Edgar Wright has been building his whole career for: Well, ok probably not, but I can tell this is the film that Edgar Wright went buck wild!
The film lets Edgar do all the things he loves; his clever editing choices, off-kilter humor, breaks in reality, visual references to other films etc. He gets to play with all his favorite tools and he gets to use it in a film that perfectly utilizes in one cohesive film.
The inner fanboy in me would like to think that movie exist in the same universe as SPACED, the show Edgar co-created with Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes. The film feels like a big screen extension of the show.
See what I mean.
7. It’s like the movie was made for me: It just felt like this movie contains so many things that I personally love.
It’s full of the kind of humor I love, the visual film-making style I eat up, the kind of music I listen to, and the kind of well-rounded, full of personality that I love to watch. God, I mean, Scott’s drink of choice is Coke Zero, my favorite soda now a days.
It’s almost as if Edgar Wright, co-screenwriter Micheal Becall and the comics creator Bryan Lee O’Malley went into my head and decided to create a story for me.
Hell, I tried to MAKE this film in 2007.
My student film, Rival Siblings, was full of goofy comedy, martial arts action, people unrealistically fighting over personal problems instead of talking about them. I was trying to make an Edgar Wright martial arts film basically, and I knew it. In a way, I guess I kinda wanted to see this film so badly, I decided to make one for myself while I waited for it.
Thankfully Edgar Wright DID make his film, and as you can tell, I’m so happy that he did.