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Movie review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

August 11, 2010

When a movie’s tagline is “An epic of epic epicness,”
the question is, will it be an epic fail or epic win?
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
is an epic win.

The enticing trailers show Michael Cera playing the likable underdog Scott Pilgrim who must fight the league of seven evil exes to win the girl of his dreams. The movie was like watching a video game and a comic book come to life. Comic book movies are common, but frequently too dark, too violent, too cheesy, or too cartoony.

This movie struck the right note and rocked it. I’m not a big reader of comic books themselves, but I like comic book-based films, and this is the best one I’ve seen in a long time. It was the graphic novel version of a movie, not simply another action flick featuring comic book characters.

I can’t say how faithfully it held to the comic book series, but it was faithful to the comic book style, with shots framed and cut like the panels of a graphic novel and sound effects visualized, in a way that blended seamlessly with the overall film and live action elements. The special effects and fight scenes felt like watching someone play through a live-action video game. I look
forward to playing the video game based on the movie and graphic novels!

Dialogue was snappy and humorous without being over-the-top. All the characters, even supporting characters, were driven by something, making them more realistic and fun to watch.  Supporting characters Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), Pilgrim’s gay roommate, and Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), Pilgrim’s former love interest, might have stolen the spotlight in another film, but here, the entire cast was strong enough that they elevated the whole film. Main love interest Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was quirky, mysterious, and aloof, but showed just the right hint of vulnerability at the right moments.

Michael Cera did a great job playing, well, Michael Cera. He’s well-suited to the role of the slightly awkward underdog who goes for what he wants at full power. And the suite of evil exes each have a personality and a power of their own, with different battle styles and strengths required to defeat each one. Many video game genres are well represented, from ninja fighting games to skateboarding to the music genre, while the movie plays well as one truly epic adventure to save the princess.

If you’re a comic book, video game, or fantasy fan, or a fan of geekery, you’ll probably love this movie. If you’re a fan of action and/or comedy, you’ll probably enjoy this movie. I was lucky enough to score free passes to an advance screening, but the movie was already on my must-see list for the summer. Add it to your list.

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