Movie Review | Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Movie summary: Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart. (IMDb)
I suppose I should start this review by admitting that I’ve now seen this movie four times, which I suppose is a recommendation in itself; after all, I’m definitely not the sort of person to sit through even a mediocre movie that many times.
However, this was the first time that I had actually seen it with someone else, and it brought up an interesting point that I had never consciously registered: most of the characters in this movie aren’t actually that nice. That’s not to say that they’re terrible people either, but it’s now easy to see why some people would be put off.
I had just written off my issues with them as being due to their super-quirkiness, with almost every character having some kind of ‘gimmick’ to them – usually to the point of caricature. I’m not a fan of simplistic characters like that, but the hyper-exaggeration of character seemed to fit with the visuals and action, so I didn’t think too much of it.
Talking with my friend after seeing it again yesterday with her, she said that she flat out hated a number of characters, disliked many more, and would be happy to never see the movie again. I was shocked by such a strong reaction, but she did explain why.
She thought that all the major characters were just too selfish to empathise with, and the story never did anything to balance it out or at least knock them down a peg or two. I can see what she means, but I think the constant pop-culture referencing cancelled it out for me.
I can see that being an issue for a lot of people too: the more of the references you get, the more you’re going to be able to connect with the characters. If those references fly over your head, or simply don’t work, there really isn’t that much to truly redeem them, as they are indeed quite selfish.
I don’t know what that says about me that I could empathise with these people despite how self-absorbed they could be, but it’s definitely something that will colour my experience when – or if – I ever see Scott Pilgrim again.
We did both agree on the ending though, and that Scott ended up choosing the wrong girl out of the two he has to pick from. It’s one of those times when someone chooses the perfect ‘idea’ of the person they end up with, ignoring the reality and that the other option might actually be better for them.
It doesn’t help Scott, or the movie’s, case that Knives is pretty much the most genuinely likeable character in the entire move, with Ellen Wong giving a wonderfully sweet performance. Knives also seems to possess the most depth of anyone in the story, genuinely growing and changing over the course of the film.
The same can’t be said of the title character, with Scott feeling pretty much the same as the start of the film, but has changed a few things about himself in order to end up with a specific girl that he likes. The journey was fun enough, but the destination feels more than a little anti-climactic.
What isn't a letdown is how fantastic this film looks - stills really can't do it justice. This is especially the case with each of the fights against Ramona's evil exes, with each fight being themed differently and the visuals making each one visually distinct. Quite the achievement for a movie as packed with action as this one is.
The constant action also serves a perfect for Edgar Wright's hyper kinetic direction, with plenty of camera tricks and creative moves within scenes and transitions between them. The characters and story might not be the greatest, but the style and tone of the material are a fantastic fit for Wright.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun film, filled with a lot of fantastic visuals and inventive action, that is only really let down by most of the characters not actually being that nice to spend time with. Also, a lot of the humour depends on getting a huge number of ‘geek’ references, so it has a relatively niche appeal.