Scott Pilgrim Vs. Scott Pilgrim

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I declined the opportunity to write a movie review for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; I’m way too biased. I’m totally in lesbians with anything Pilgrim. So I left the review duty up to our friend Noah Nickels, and decided to write something else… Reasons why the movie and books both rock, in different (or similar) ways. Both of them stand strong on their own, but there are certain ways that each “won the party.” And if you’ve only seen the movie or only read the books, do the other thing NOW! And if you’ve done neither, I’m afraid your life simply isn’t complete yet.

Five Ways the Movie Won:

The music. My goodness, the music. Music has such a presence in the Scott Pilgrim series, and although I have tons of faith in Mr. Edgar Wright, I wasn’t sure how the music would translate to the movie. Often fictitious bands are, well… lame. In fact, for that very reason, it’s said that Wright and co-screenwriter Michael Bacall completely left the music out of an early draft of the movie. But lucky for us, they went back on their decision and enlisted an impressive lineup of musicians to make the music of Scott Pilgrim come to life. Glorious, buzzing, raucous, catchy life.

Paying homage to the source material. With exuberance. Wright did an amazing job with the action and humor of the books, and he fit over 1,000 pages of content into a one-hour and fifty-three minute movie. Of course some changes had to be made, but the movie stayed true to the overall feel of the comic. Plus, it remained set — and filmed — in The Great White North, which is key, since Toronto is basically a character in the series.

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Adding actual content from the comic. This is different from paying homage. This is literally bringing pages to life. Quite a few scenes were exact; the set, the wardrobe, the surroundings, the people in the background… the attention to detail was incredible. Plus, the movie incorporated artwork from the series in a couple of Ramona’s flashbacks. And, exact words that were used to accentuate the action in the books — “KPOK!,” “THONK,” “WHIP” and so on — were used in the movie. It worked wonderfully, and in the process, added a bit of a retro Batman TV show vibe to the movie.

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Video game nostalgia. I won’t lie and say that I get all of the video game references in Scott Pilgrim, the movie or the books. And although many of them are over my head, I still thoroughly enjoyed their use in both. But I especially like the way it played out in the film. It was like watching the coolest fighting game you’ve ever seen. When the movie opens with that 8-bit Universal song and logo, goosebumps traveled down my arms. I didn’t expect something like that to have such an effect on me. I’ll lovingly blame it on my NES, which I’ll probably bust out the next time I go home.

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The casting. Many were concerned about Michael Cera playing the title character, but he ended up giving his performance a 64-hit combo. Scott Pilgrim was not a rehash of Paulie Bleeker or Nick or Evan. He was Scott Pilgrim. And I’m not even getting into Kieran Culkin or Ellen Wong’s performances… they simply stole the show. All of the supporting cast and evil exes were fantastic. Mary Elizabeth Winstead… Well, she looked the part. Which brings us to point one of where the comic won.

Five Ways the Books Won:

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Ramona. I know, I know… Bryan Lee O’Malley had six books to really build the character of Ramona, versus the one movie. But the book version of this dream girl is better. We know that she truly cares for Scott, even though she sometimes has trouble showing it. And although she’s mysterious and we may not always understand her, she’s still likable. She smiles, and when needed, she comforts Scott and looks out for him. The book Ramona is a bit more pleasant and fun, even as her past haunts her.

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Side commentary from Bryan Lee O’Malley. I’m talking about those little boxes that give offer insight into a character or place. Some did make it into the movie, which is so amazing. But the others are just hilarious little glimpses into the world of Scott Pilgrim, which is one more reason why the series is such a fun read.

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Fantastically epic events. These could have been done in the movie, but either they couldn’t fit it in, or they knew some of these would look jacked up with CGI. Whatever the case may be, it makes it more special that certain things were left only for the books to recount: Honest Ed’s imploding, a Roxie fight in subspace, the Knives/Ramona fight in the library, the humongous Gideon, etc. And c’mon. Robots. Once more, with feeling: ROBOTS.

Relationships. And stuff. Again, I understand that six books were cut down into one movie, so it’s hard to get all of the humor, music, fighting and relationship stories crammed in. But while the fights were phenomenal in the movie, the relationship stuff suffered a bit. The books not only revealed the intermingling love lives of the characters, but they also showed how certain relationships were created and strained over the years. Along with insane fight scenes and silly jokes, there is a lot of heart in these comics. So much reality lies in the relationship context, and that really grounds the fanciful nature of the Scott Pilgrim series.

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The end. Vol. 6 is a very nice way to wrap things up. Our questions are pretty much answered, and there’s a lot of redemption and closure. (And a massive showdown with the big baddie doesn’t hurt.) Vol. 6 gives readers a satisfying and well-executed conclusion to a sensational series, which is just about as wonderful as… bacon. Just ask Wallace how great that is.

Now it’s time to fire up the replies, people! How did each win for you? Do you agree or disagree with these points? What did I overlook? Why am I asking so many questions???

tags: scott pilgrim

  • http://andrewstamm.com Andrew

    While I loved the appearance of Crash & the Boys I was really hoping that the Boys & Crash were going to make their appearane in the movie. Alas…

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/emyjj Surely Steiner

    Yes! There definitely was a lack of goggles, gloves and insane noise. Instead, the poor dudes were toast. Or dust, rather. Someone better call the cleaning lady. Because she cleans up… dust. She dusts.

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