KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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The Scott Pilgrim Post

My place of work, in its infinite wisdom, closed on Friday to give us all a four-day weekend for Labor Day. I have been looking forward to this for ages, and it did not disappoint. I left my schedule open on purpose, half-thinking of taking a writing day, but after finishing breakfast I was seized by the urge to catch a matinee of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I have been a fan of the comic for several years now, after buying the first two issues at APE 2007; I had been a bit nervous when the film was first announced, mostly because I recoiled at the idea of Michael Cera in the lead role. But then the trailers came out, and they were so true to the look and feel of the book that I became officially excited.

Short, spoiler-free reaction: I am happy. I can honestly say that I can't think of another comic book adaptation that comes this true to recreating the original, both visually and in spirit. I recently re-read the entire series, in preparation for the release of the final volume back in July, so the books are fresh in my mind, and I recognized so much. Entire scenes are word-for-word, frame-for-frame the same as the original, but in a way that works. Compare this trailer made up of stills from the comic to the trailer I linked above -- it's all there, although some of it re-imagined, and it all works. If the trailer appeals to you at all, if you're a gamer (even a casual one), if you read the comics and liked them, then I highly recommended the film. So much of the experience of this movie is like playing a game: the way it builds through levels, the fighting style, the boss battles. The use of game tropes is one of the things I loved about the comic, and I was glad to see it translated so well to film.

There are changes, of course, as is inevitable when you take a six-volume comic and condense it into a two-hour movie: the film is more tightly focused on Scott and to a certain extent Ramona, the evil ex backstories are taken down to thumbnails, and Scott's past relationships with Envy Adams and especially Kim Pine are only touched on lightly. All the plot threads about Scott growing up, moving out, and getting a job are also cut; instead, the external conflict focuses around the band, which helps narrow the focus of the story, at the expense of developing most of the side characters -- much of Stephen Stills's arc is gone, although the shift to telling the story of Sex Bob-omb gives him something different to do, and we see far less of Kim and Envy. (What we do see of Kim is awesome, though; Envy's character was a little thin.) On the other hand, I thought Knives was better developed in the movie than in the books: more than anyone, including Scott, she comes into her own and shows maturity and character growth at the end. It was also nice to see more of Scott's sister, Stacy. Like Johanna at Comics Worth Reading, however, my favorite character was probably Wallace Wells: Kieran Culkin played him perfectly, and he comes off as more three-dimensional than he does in the comic. Lucas Lee was easily the best of the exes. Not really keen on the fight with Roxy -- the whole "I can't hit a girl!" thing was overdone. I enjoyed all the other ex battles, though, including the way they changed the twins to work them into the "battle of the bands" plot.

As for Michael Cera in the lead... he did all right. His blankness and cluelessness are a good fit for the character of Scott, and when he pulls it together at the end, I believed it. The weak spot for me was the initial scenes where he first hooks up with Ramona; neither of them really sold me on the idea that Ramona would have invited him home after that first non-date, and so the romance, to me, fell a little flat. They never really showed the two of them making a connection on that late-night walk. Other than that, though, I thought Mary Elizabeth Winstead made a great Ramona, and Cera was a capable Scott. I can't help wondering what the movie would have been like with a different lead, though.

Now, about this whole idea that Scott Pilgrim is a "hipster movie". True, the cast is a crew of young people without much apparent direction; they play in bands and work in coffee shops and wear thrift-shop clothes and live in ratty apartments. But that doesn't make them "hipsters" in the way we currently understand the word. Not a trucker cap or a can of PBR in sight, and when Scott wears logo t-shirts, he's not wearing them ironically. There is, in fact, nothing ironic about this movie -- its love of games, music, comics, and cheesy action is purely in earnest. This isn't a Gen-Y hipster movie. It's a Gen-X slacker movie. The video game references are pure early Nintendo, starting from the 8-bit rendering of the Universal logo that opens the film, a style carries through the whole film. The music was by Beck. But for the number of characters who carry cellphones, this movie could just as easily have been set in, say, 1996. Sneering reviews about the presumed target audience aside, these are not references that 12-year-olds are going to get. Scott Pilgrim aims at the heart of the late-20s through early-40s set, and as far as I was concerned, it hits square on. You don't need to know every reference to enjoy the movie -- I wasn't a gamer in the 8-bit era, so I'm sure some of the subtleties got by me -- but they surely add to the pleasure of it.

Last but certainly not least, I present to you: official fake posters for Lucas Lee movies. Hilarious, and also proof of the attention to detail in creating the world of this film. Awesome stuff.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/492387.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.
Tags: comics, movies

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