The Greatest Film Of All Time.
Woah. He’s taking it on. Is there a reason for this bold move? Why, dear reader, there is. This is Stuff And That’s 100th movie review! That’s right, mateys, we’ve hit the century. I thought there would be no other way to celebrate than to review my favourite movie ever, and it’s a choice and a half, guys.
With this being my favourite film ever, it’s needless to say that this review will be a long-un. So, ‘cus I’m just a big bundle of love for you guys, I’mma put headings on each section, so you can skip the boring bits, if you want.
Based on the fantastic graphic novel series created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is an action-comedy directed by the king of the genre, Edgar Wright. Coming off of two highly successful sleeper hits, Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz (two amazing films in their own right), Wright left his homeland for his first film not set in the UK. The film covers the entire story of the graphic novel series as Scott, an “inbetween jobs” bassist, is obsessed with the new girl on the block, Ramona Flowers. To be with her, however, he must defeat her seven evil exes. At this point, I’d try and shoehorn in some kind of pun-like question posing whether the film was good or not. However, the tagline at the top is a pretty big heading 3-sized giveaway, so let’s not mess about and review this mutha.
With direction from Edgar Wright, my personal favourite director of all time, there’s no guessing that the film starts off on extremely strong footing. Not a single shot is wasted in this flick, with each transition being genius and every scene being packed with meticulous detail, as is Wright’s somewhat “trademark”. This film encompasses why I think Wright is a cinematic mastermind, literally everything, from a technical perspective, in this film is perfect. Either it’s recreating the comic book shot for shot (something I adore) or he’s made it better, which is tricky to do when the graphic novel was so damn gawwgeous. While I never really appreciated it when I was younger, I’ve found that, with age, I’ve come to realise that the direction in this film is simple mesmerizing.
Edgar Wright, along with Michael Bacall (of 21 Jump Street fame), also wrote the screenplay, which remains just as snappy and witty as the source material, considering that many lines were lifted directly from it. That being said, the movie also trimmed out a lot of the fat from the graphic novel, such as the song being shortened and the lyrics less clumsy. However, it could be argued that the abscences of Scott’s backstory and Mr. Chau altogther (who plays a minor but noticable role in the books) are missed. That being said, the pacing of this film is just right, so there’s probably a reason we don’t see these features.
In the lead role, Michael Cera shines in the performance of a lifetime as Scott, the 22-year old slacker with a helluva relationship problem. The awkward sensibilities of the character are translated brilliantly in Cera’s performance. That being said, his comedic timing here, sharpened by films like Superbad and Juno, is perfect, with every single joke hitting the mark. Surprisingly, as well, he manages the action scenes like a pro, and even delivers Arnie-esque one-liner here and there (ve-gone?). There is very little a casting fault in Scott Pilgrim and the lead role is no exception; I couldn’t think of an actor better suited to Scott.
As the primary love interest, Ramona Flowers, Mary Elizabeth-Winstead also delivers all the sensibilties of the character, like they’ve just stepped from the pages in front of our very eyes. The aloof mystique of the character is captured perfectly. If I could fault her performance in anyway, I’d say it was too likeable, making the admittedly misguided ending (but still great) somehow justified.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Jason Schwartzmann as the main antagonist Gideon Graves, a complete asshole. This serves testament to Schwartzmann’s over-the-top and always entertaining scumbag performance, he played the campy villain perfectly.
And, of course, Knives Chau, any weeaboo’s wet dream since 2010 (lookin’ at you, Cam). Played by Ellen Wong, the multi-faceted personality of the character is perfectly captured by the actress and the character is easily the most developed of the film, from over-protected child, to stalker, to mature woman.
Then, we have the major supporting cast, including Scott’s bandmates in Sex Bob-Omb and the Evil Exes themselves. Firstly, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons and Alison Pill as Stephen Stills (The Talent), Young Neil and Kim were all brilliant in their own way. Pill’s cynical performance bounced off of the other two, especially Simmons’ blind naivety, in a great way.
Out of the Evil Exes, first we have Matthew Patel, played by English-born Satya Bhabha, who put on an American accent to get audition in Wright’s “no English” casting. Trivia, I’ve got it! Bhabha performance, though brief, managed to be extremely memorable thanks to his many great lines and Bollywood dance number, even if he did look like a pirate.
Then, we have Lucas Lee, played by non-other than Captain America himself, Chris Evans. Another over-the-top performance, it’s great to see the usually straight-laced role-playing Evans camp it up a bit here. His cocky attitude and ridiculous laugh all came together for a real douchebag, if a funny one at that.
After that we have probably my favourite of the bunch, Todd Ingram, played by Brandon Routh who completely redeemed himself of ruining Superman here. The whole backstory and character of Ingram, most of which can be attributed to Bryan Lee O’ Malley and the original material, is completely hilarious, with the whole vegan academy, his lines and delivery are impeccable (I still can’t hear the word ‘incorrigable’ without saying “I don’t know the meaning of the word”) and his fight with Scott is probably my favourite of the seven.
We’ve also got Mae Whitman as Roxy Richter, Ramona’s 4th evil ex who delivers the BEST lesbian shade I’ve ever seen. The entire character, again mainly O’ Malley’s doing, is completely unique, a lesbian ninja with teleporting powers who dies SPOILERS PRECIOUS CHILD LOOK AWAY!!! via orgasm? ALRIGHT IT’S OKAY YOU CAN LOOK NOW You don’t see that in Star Wars. And “has-bian” is probably in top ten words of all time.
Then we have The Katayanagi Twins, played by Keita and Shota Saito. Admittedly, these two are the weakest of the seven because they aren’t fully developed due to the events in the story, but their battle is probably the most visually spectacular and has one of the many killer original songs to soundtrack it.
Moreover, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World also boasts an jam-packed minor supporting cast, with many a memorable character. We’ve got Wallace Wells, Scott’s cool gay roommate, one of my favourite characters, played by Kieran Culkin. There’s Julie Powers, Stephen Stills’ on-off girlfriend, a foul-mouthed bitch played brilliantly (is that a compliment?) by nerd uber-crush Aubrey Plaza. We’ve also got the now Oscar-winner Brie Larson playing Envy Adams, Scott’s ex, lead singer of The Clash At Demonhead and a “total bitch”. Oh and Comeau, he knows everyone.
As well as being a technical masterclass, Scott Pilgrim also manages to be one of the most visually striking films in a decade with Mad Max: Fury Road and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. The video game and comic book-inspired effects, as well as the countless amount of visual gags, are executed nigh on flawlessly, with the fight scenes all having a sense of adrenaline being injected into them, with retro style graphics over the top of them and even coins coming out of the antagonists when they die. In particular, the final fight sequence is probably the most visually stunning piece of cinema of the decade, in my opinion, and I’m getting goosebumps just writing about it.
This also translates into the character design too, with every character being faithfully restored from the comic, but with an extra zest of movie magic. With the colour re-masters of the novels not being released until 2012, this film is the first time we saw the characters in full colour, and this translates particularly well with Ramona. Everything from the messenger bag to the steampunk aviator goggles to the massive hammer is done so well from a design perspective, but it’s something so simple as Ramona’s hair colour, which is an iconic aspect of her character, is so important to why this film is one of few that actually improve on their source material. And that is difficult considering how good the graphic novels are (very friggin’ good).
But, anyway, enough of that technical jibba-jabba! Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, much like its graphic novel counterpart, is action-packed to the point that the amount of punches thrown actually tops the amount of people I’ve offended, which is a lot. As touched upon, the visuals on this film give the fight scenes a video game-type film, as does the 8-bit sound effects and, at points, the f*ckin’ health bars above the baddies! This helps the explosive action somehow become even more bombastic, and definitely has me munching popcorn with awe-filled glazed eyes every time I watch it.
This flick is also genuinely friggin’ hilarious! The dry, irreverant wit of the comic books if definitely translated well into the film, in no due part thanks to the great adapted screenplay and fantastic performances. Scott Pilgrim is one of those films, along with other Wright comedies Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, that have certain lines in there that make me laugh-out-loud after countless viewings, something that is extremely rare.
The sound design in Scott Pilgrim is, once again, technically perfect. The visual gags are all well and good, but when they come together with some kind of sound effect, it can be pure comedy in a package, a package delivered (through the subspace highway, obvs) many times in this film. Like the direction, the attention to detail in the sound, the little beeps and boops throughout the film, is subtle but astounding. Moreover, it comes together with the editing of the film to make those all important transitions have an extra pop.
But, we don’t care about that as much as we do the soundtrack and, like literally everything else in this movie, you will not be disappointed. Packed with tracks from indie rock royalty such as Metric, The Bluetones and Beck, the soundtrack is one of the few out there that I can listen to on repeat. These songs capture the garage rock essence of Scott Pilgrim perfectly. This is important, too, as music is key to the entire concept of the franchise. There are also a bevey of original songs written by Beck specifically for the film, including Ramona and all of the songs by Sex Bob-Omb, which were performed by the cast themselves, which super cool. Plus, the score, composed by Nigel Godrich (the producer of Radiohead, for flips’ sake), takes all of the components of the film and squeezes them down in a concentrate that, while not scene-stealing, perfectly compliments the movie.
Overall, I think I’ve pretty much justified, in my own ridiculous way, why Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World after all this time, is still my favourite movie ever made. The direction, from mastermind Edgar Wright, is absolute meticulous genius. The casting was perfect and everyone’s performances, even minor characters, were fantastic. The visuals are spectacular and the action is bombastic. The writing is sharp and witty, with sight gags and one-liners galore. The soundtrack is straight FIRE and Mary Elizabeth-Winstead sure is purty. I’m sure I’ve convinced you now.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations