Ewan Swain was one of the lucky few who bagged a ticket to a screening of Scott Pilgrim. Here’s his review.
Ok, first let me lay my cards on the table.
I read comic books. I play video games. I love snappy pop culture references. I was a big fan of Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Level 1 – A New Hero Awaits
Though even with all of that, when I first heard of the premise for this movie, I have to say it sounded kinda sucky. A film based on a comic based on video games, which were sort of a comic book video games but up there on the screen. Really? But the trailer did look pretty awesome, awesome enough that I watched it several times.
So when I offered the opportunity to attend a screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I leapt at the chance. But did it, could it work?
The first half of the film and in particular the first act is as impressive a piece of bravado film making you will ever see. It simple zings from the screen and just makes you beam. Wright’s love for the two genres of gaming and comic books is apparent in every fast cut, every superimposition and every pop culture reference and you can’t help but get swept along. The video gaming world just sort of works, with a few very small exceptions (pee bar, I’m looking at you) but what caught me by surprise was how laugh-out-loud funny it was. Scene after scene of snappy film making were outshone by the perfectly weighted gags and comedic pacing and you start to feel you are in for something very special indeed. The interactions between the characters are sublime with great acting by a cast who look like they were having a ball making this. While stripped down it is essentially a “man on a journey of self-discovery” flick, it’s an incredibly well-crafted one.
Over Elaborate Back-Story Cut Scene
Without giving too much away Scott, a likeable geek-in-a-band is drifting through a rebound relationship when he meets Ramona. She is cool, fickle with Anime wide eyes and ever changing hair colour. She has a mysterious past and must be cool as she is from New York. He very quickly wins her round and before you know it it’s happily ever aft…oh no hang on, first there is the little matter of her Seven Evil Exes he must fight. Each of these battles differs from the prior from the previous in more imaginative ways, and these fights pretty much dominate the middle act, with a few sub plots along the way. The effects keep coming, the film grows bigger and louder and the exes keep coming. I won’t dwell too much on these nemeses of Pilgrim, but suffice to say I’m seriously thinking of getting myself some vegan power as well as being a fan of the phrase “Bi-furious”
The Final Level – Prepare for the Challenge
Sadly though, and I know I may make myself a hate figure on twitter for saying this, the whole thing just sort of gets too much for itself. The jokes come thinner and slower as Scott heads into the final level, sorry act. Meanwhile the effects get a tad repetitive and as the film ploughs on I sort of wished there had only been 5 evil exes and a tighter movie. Also, as with many fantastical pieces of whimsy and effects you also get the feeling that this film could date quite badly. In ten years it’ll be sitting in DVD special editions on many a shelf, but rarely if at all taken out to watch, apart from to listen to what I hope will be stellar DVD commentary.
You Win! Now Watch the End Credits as a Reward
However, that’s churlish of me to say. Because at the end of the day this is popcorn fare, and bloody good popcorn fare it is too. The first half of the movie stands up there with not only the best comic book adaptations but also the best comedies of recent times. If you’ve never liked comic books or video games? Well, there’s still enough to like, but it might come across as a very loud, very fast Juno. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.