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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World(2010)
Scott Pilgrim has never had a problem getting a girlfriend. It's getting rid of them that proves difficult. From the girl who kicked his heart's ass -- and now is back in town -- to the teenage distraction he's trying to shake when Ramona rollerblades into his world, love hasn't been easy. He soon discovers, however, his new crush has the most unusual baggage of all: a nefarious league of exes controls her love life and will do whatever it takes to eliminate him as a suitor. As Scott gets closer to Ramona, he must face an increasingly vicious rogues' gallery from her past -- from infamous skateboarders to vegan rock stars and fearsome identical twins. And if he hopes to win his true love, he must vanquish them all before it really is game over.
For more about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray release, see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 31, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons
Narrator: Bill Hader
Director: Edgar Wright
» See full cast & crew
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray Review
Do you know Pacman?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 31, 2010
The movie business is a formula driven machine which runs on an often diluted fuel made largely out of déjà vu. Even the so called indie movement, which can at this late date really trace it origins back some 40 plus years to films like Easy Rider, tends to have its own tropes and clichés, which it mines as relentlessly as any mainstream, big budget fare. And so at the very least, Edgar Wright is due some major props for his genre-defying Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a film so deliberately odd and nonconforming that it can make your head spin like some vanquished character in a low tech videogame. And of course that's exactly what Wright (Shaun of the Dead) is aiming for in his adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel series. While Wright proved quite amiably he is able to take a genre and twist it to his own nefarious ends (so to speak) in Shaun of the Dead, the remarkable thing in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is that there is no genre to speak of. Sure, there have been films based on graphic novels before, and even films set around and even in the world of videogames (Tron, anyone?), but never before has the whole quasi-slacker ambience of 20-somethings raised in an environment of everything from Pacman to Mario been so effortlessly, and often winningly, portrayed. There has been a lot of critical hoo-hah about how different ages will react to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with the general consensus being anyone older than 30 will most likely find the film relatively engaging, but too silly for its own good. All I can say is I'm considerably north of 30 and while my teenage sons probably got more of a kick out of Scott than I did (not to mention catching more of the cultural references it contains), this film is so good natured and often innovative that only a complete curmudgeon would be able to totally resist its peculiar charms.
How does one sum up a movie as idiosyncratic as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Not very easily, that much is clear. Scott (Michael Cera) is a 22 year old who plays in an alt-rock group called the Sex Bob-ombs (I have it on the best teenaged sons' authority that this, like many other passing moments in the film, refers to various videogames, in this case, a Super Mario Brothers outing). The other Bob-ombs include Scott's long ago girlfriend Kim (Alison Pill), a monotoned cynic whose rampant pessimism might be mistaken for Goth if she dressed in darker colors. Also on hand are the ironically named Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Young Neil (Johnny Simmons). These three, along with Scott's gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin, Macaulay's brother) provide a support system of sorts for the oddly lovable, but inarguably geeked out, Pilgrim. As the film starts, Scott has taken up with a 17 year old high school girl named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Knives seems poised to help Scott forget the horrors of a romantic bad ending from a little over a year ago, at least until Scott catches sight of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a mysterious but enticing American girl whose hair changes color as quickly as Mario and Wario break into a feud. (See, I do know a little about videogames).
The bulk of the film is an odd quasi-science fiction enterprise wherein Scott, who has fallen hopelessly in love with Ramona, discovers that he must defeat her seven "evil ex's", videogame style, before their relationship can really blossom. This sets up a series of completely over the top sequences where Scott does battle with everyone from the Bollywoodesque Matthew Patel (Satya Babha) to major film star Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) to Ramona's flirtation with bisexuality, Roxy (Mae Whitman), a sort of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wisp of a ninja fighter who seemingly appears out of thin air to wreak havoc on Scott. These fight sequences are goofy, wonderfully whimsical and just flat out strange. Lucas skateboards down an endless icy stair banister to his doom, and Ramona aids Scott in one of his battles by pounding around a giant mallet. The most outré all of the battles is probably the one involving Scott's exgirlfriend Envy Adams (Brie Larson), who has become a rock star, and who returns to Scott's hometown of Toronto with her vegan boyfriend Todd (Brandon Routh), who of course used to date Ramona. In the lunatic world of Scott Pilgrim, veganism has granted Todd a host of demonic psychic powers which allow him to do everything from punch the purple highlights out of Knives' hair to emanate levitating powers which suspend Scott midair.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a surface deep entertainment, that can't be denied. These characters are living cartoons, and the silliness of the fight sequences, which invariably end with Scott's nemeses exploding, releasing showers of video game coins, only enforces the unreality of the enterprise. What keeps Pilgrim afloat is its lack of outright irony or self-reflexive archness. Probably due largely to Cera's gangly and unkempt appeal, there's no Hollywoodesque glamour to this enterprise. In fact Hollywood glamour is given a good kick in the pants in the Lucas Lee segment. While this Universal film starts with a decidedly low-tech, 8-bit looking logo and videogame MIDI version of the Universal anthem, when Chris Evans first appears onscreen, we get the actual orchestral Universal anthem, including Evans cracking his neck at the two final bass cadence notes.
This lack of pretension is not to say that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn't filled with a rather astounding gamut of bells and whistles, because it most certainly is. Sound effects don't just emanate from this film, we get onscreen depictions of them, much like in the old mid 1960s campfest television version of Batman. Not only are the fight sequences given a wealth of pows, bams and kabooms, everything from ringing cell phones to slamming doors is accompanied by words floating in and around the actors. A brief survey of what belongs to whom in Scott and Wallace's apartment is of course accompanied by a sort of flowchart of possession complete with pointer arrows. The segues between scenes are a riot of imagination, with Wright and editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss doing amazing work. Actors will begin a line—sometimes even a syllable—in one location, and finish their thought in another. A character moving in front of the screen wipes the background from one locale to another. This is one of the flashiest looking features to come down the pike in quite a while, and it is certainly heads and shoulders above Wright's previous features in this regard.
Performances here are pretty much spot on. Cera may be wearing the adenoidal nerd syndrome a bit too long for everyone's comfort, but he's such a goofily endearing presence it's hard not to love him. Winstead and Wong are both wonderfully winning as the two girls vying for Scott's attention, but the female comedy honors belong mostly to Pill, for her hilarious quasi-lobotomized take on Kim, and Anna Kendrick as Scott's put upon sister, Stacey. The supporting cast of evil ex's is all superb in their silly, hyperbolic cameos.
It's refreshing to see something as completely off the wall as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There are no doubt going to be a lot of people who respond to this film by looking around to see if there's a giant floating WTF? drifting by their heads, no matter what their age. Those raised in the era of videogames, and, yes, that is probably largely the under-30 crowd, are going to get this film on a more intrinsic level than those of us who have made it to "geezer" status, as my sons so charmingly have informed me I have. But even for those of us looking middle age squarely in the eye, Scott Pilgrim can provide a bracingly original film experience. It may be only surface deep, but it's a wholly original surface, and for that alone it is a most welcome respite from a lot of the "been there, seen that" dreck that regularly fills cineplexes.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray, Video Quality
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World blasts onto Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. Let's get the (very minimal) bad news out of the way first. Some of the film looks a bit on the soft side, and colors are not always brilliantly saturated. That said, I'm sure that's exactly the lo-fi look that Wright and Pope were going for here. Where this film excels is in its crazily inventive special effects sequences, which include everything from the aforementioned words and commentaries which float in and around the players, to the wire work of several of the evil ex's to a lot of inventive CGI which treads a very fine line between low tech NES looking silliness and state of the art movie magic. Black levels are astounding in this film. One scene especially, where the backgrounds fade to nothingness and Scott, in his blue parka, is surrounded by an inky void, is stupendous. Grain looks completely natural and contrast is generally excellent, though some of this film is purposefully post processed in an overblown manner which intentionally robs the image of some fine detail. While fleshtones can be on the pallid side (too many hours spent in a darkened basement in front of a videogame screen?), when we do get flashes of a brilliant palette, as in Ramona's ever changing hair color, they're delivered with satisfying saturation.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is simply a carnival ride of sonic pleasures, some bombastic, some virtually subliminal. The soundfield here is an aural riot of activity, with foley effects pinging around the surrounds virtually nonstop throughout the entire film. As is discussed in the supplemental material, whip pans are frequently accompanied by "diagetic whooshes" (perhaps my new favorite technical phrase), which are context specific. While that phraseology may leave your head spinning, all it means is that there is a seemingly nonending variety to the sound effects in this film, which catapult from side to side and from front to rear with a just overwhelming at times immersive quality. Fidelity is incredible throughout the film, including some floor rattling LFE in the "bass battle" between Scott and Todd. The music sounds fantastic, with excellent clarity and great fidelity throughout all frequencies. Several of the club and cloud scenes bristle with surround activity, but the "important" bits of dialogue are never lost in the overall shuffle. As loopy as the film often is, the soundtrack here is a marvel of invention. I'll be amazed if the sound editing doesn't get an Oscar nomination, and the DTS track here offers it all with crystal clarity.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Universal has again stuffed one of its new releases to the gills with an amazing amount of supplements:
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
You may not know exactly what to make of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and I for one think that's a very good thing. There are too many filmic lemmings following their box office bonanza brethren off the cliff. And just like lemmings, they quickly disappear and are never thought of again. Pilgrim has the courage to be different. It's an odd, amazing, confounding and flat out silly film, but it has a generous amount of heart and an overwhelming amount of whimsy keeping it afloat. Cera's shtick may be wearing thin at this point, but he's still endearing in this film and he's surrounded by an ace supporting cast. Wright is a director with an incredible vision, for better or worse. In the case of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, it's manifestly for the better. Highly recommended.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Other Editions
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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - November 9-15 - November 9, 2010
To put it mildly, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World had a tough time at the box office, having only pulled in half of its estimated $60M budget in domestic box office receipts. A victim of its own success, Universal wasn't able to market the quirky film correctly, and ...
• Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Blu-ray Announced - September 21, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for Blu-ray release on November 9, in a content-loaded BD/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack. This action comedy, directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera, garnered critical acclaim ...
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