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    Discussion Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

    By | July 30th, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Yesterday you saw my review of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and today we’re bringing you Matt and I’s takes. Given that Matt and I are very, very different when it comes to both comics and movies (for the most part), odds are this was going to provide highly disparate takes. Or would it?

    Find out what we both thought after the jump.

    David Harper: I think the most important question is Matt, do you think the movie stayed true to the spirit of the comics?

    Matt Meylikhov: The SPIRIT? Yes. Very much so, in fact. The last time I saw a comic book movie that I watched and said “Wow, THIS is the comic!” was Sin City – and with that movie, they literally used the comic as storyboards! The movie very much kept Scott Pilgrim’s essence at heart throughout the entire thing, and in that regard I really enjoyed and appreciated it.

    There are other elements in which it failed, though.

    DH: I agree, but sometimes I think the accuracy almost choked the life out of it. Mostly in the beginning – it felt more naturalistic throughout, or at least as naturalistic as a Scott Pilgrim movie could be.

    What elements are you referring to though?

    MM: Well, for me the movie is kind of split into two distinct halfs. The first half of the film is GREAT. I love it. I mean, it is the comic. A lot of my favorite scenes are in there, and they’re recreated perfectly. There’s some new stuff, but it fits in nicely, and there’s some changed elements too, but it works out. See, my problem with films like this is generally: if it is a book, with a straight storyline, keep it that way. It’s why I hate things like Kick-Ass or Watchmen. They start out as the book and then they get their own ideas and miss the point of the story and why people liked the book in the first place. Scott Pilgrim, as you said in your review, is SIX. It’ll be hard to condense it – but for the most part they did.

    However, as soon as the Roxy fight started, this is the clear point for me where I started enjoying things a bit less. The movie is still fun and funny, but I think this is where Edgar Wright started “missing” it. Granted, we all knew the film would end differently, but the first three exes are so fleshed out and their fight scenes are so brilliant, and everything else – ESPECIALLY the twins – seems rushed in order to get to Gideon. Then when we get to Gideon, he comes out as an entirely different character. The Gideon of the book is a twisted and evil pervert with really malicious intent. The film’s Gideon is just kind of an arrogant dick. They work on different levels, but the movie said it itself right before the final fight – the comic does it better (which was a hilarious little line, by the way).

    Another thing is, again as you said in your review, without everyone’s backstory and the ability for characters to be fleshed out, a lot of people come off as… well, let’s put it this way. Pretty much every character in that movie is selfish, idiotic, and filled with unlikable qualities. In the book, we have reasons WHY we should love everyone because everyone has had the ability to grow. The movie’s timeframe and attempt to condense everything to one film has pretty much lost that.

    DH: Yeah, I think the biggest fault to the film is the lack of emotional weight, as you covered to a degree in your last paragraph.

    But I have to say, I didn’t mine Wright rearranging and redesigning the latter half as much as you did. Frankly, even Bryan Lee O’Malley thought Roxy Richter wasn’t interesting enough to carry a full book – most of book 4 was actually about Lisa and Scott, plus we even had a second villain to deal with in Knives’ dad. Condensing her fight, as well as the completely disinteresting twins (they weren’t that interesting in the comic either – remember Scott spent the opening of that book fighting their robot?).

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    I thought his reimagining of the latter half – save the very last fight – actually improved the flow of the story overall given that he only had an hour and 45 minutes to work with. I mean, what would you have him do? Make a video game like comic book movie that was 3 hours long?

    MM: You know, it’s kind of funny you bring up the time thing. It’s actually the second time I’ve heard it in discussions to movies in the past week. The last time I heard it, someone was talking about how they didn’t like Inception simply because it was too long. Me? I like long movies! I honestly do! If it keeps up it’s pace and allows for a bigger payoff in the end, I say make your film as long as neccessary. I have a good attention span. I could sit through it. Could everyone else? No, probably not. What’s good for me is not neccessarily good for everyone else, and probably isn’t most of the time. But I really wouldn’t have minded about a 3 hour comic book/video game movie. You know why? Because I’ve played Metal Gear Solid. BAZINGA.

    On another note, though, I’m not entirely upset about the changes to the latter half. To be honest, I actually liked the twin fight sequence a lot. I did miss the robot… quite a bit, actually. But if you think about it, they got kind of the raw end of the stick in the villain world. They showed up for the performance, did some playing, and the end. Everyone else got at least the chance to talk, or at least banter. The twins showed up, fought, and boom – done. It just seemed like an incredibly glossed over element.

    Another thing – what’s up with subspace in the movie? Granted, I wasn’t a huge fan of the explanation of subspace in the book, but at least there was one. Thinking purely in terms of someone seeing the movie who hasn’t read the book, that element has to seem kind of awkward and/or annoying.

    DH: Come on, you know this movie wouldn’t have been commercial at all if they made it 3 hours long. I already think to a degree that it isn’t commercial, and that this movie will flop. It’s massively enjoyable if you’ve read the books. I’m not sure how much it is without that. 3 hours would stretch it so thin.

    I really missed subspace. I think the way they handled it by just kind of having it there but never really explaining it kind of just made it confusing. I think it should have been either included fully or discluded entirely, but that’s me.

    We’ve been pretty negative so far – what did you like?

    MM: Well yeah, that’s what I mean! What works for me wouldn’t work for everyone else! And you know me – I’m a HUGE comic nerd! My god is named accuracy! Hell, when they changed the costumes in Kick-Ass, a HUGE warning sign went off on my head! I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. At least – when it comes to graphic novels. Usually I’m more lenient on super hero movies, but I’m digressing here. I don’t neccesarily think 3 hours would have worked. Would I have liked it? Probably. Depends on if they made it more accurate! But no, I don’t think it would have been commercial.

    What I liked? I generally liked the whole thing, to be honest! Yes, I had my problems as we’ve stated, but the movie was Scott Pilgrim more or less. Michael Cera was almost pitch perfect, and thank God we have Michael Cera not playing Michael Cera/George Michael in a movie! The exes were all great, and as I said I really enjoyed this newer version of the twins fight. I thought that was brilliant. In fact, the fight scenes were all quite amazing and cinematic (not to use too dull of a word there).

    I also thought that the humor and infusion of video game culture into it. The movie didn’t have as much focus on indie rock as the book did, but the video game moments were great. The 8-bit Universal intro, using Zelda music at every corner to time various gags, health bars, pee bars, you name it. The movie was a living and breathing video game, and there are so many good sight gags and little visual things (Scott sitting on a cough with a “no sitting” sign, the Lucas Lee posters, the name of TCAD’s song titles) filling up the background… it was quite great. And let’s not forget the opening Sex Bob-Omb song, with the room pulling out and the title of the film above the band. Brilliant!

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    Finally, can we just mention that Edgar Wright really knows how to write screenplays? I mean, I don’t doubt he took a screenwriting 101 class or something, but he just UNDERSTANDS that when you put something in the beginning of the movie, you need to pay it off later. We’ve seen it in Shaun, we’ve seen it in Hot Fuzz, and we have it now. The things he adds are the things he remembers to deliver on – specifically, the Dance Dance Ninja game. The pay off for that was pretty awesome, not gonna lie – “Mega Ninja” included. Wright really is a great writer and director.

    I have complaints, sure. But there is more to this movie that I liked than I didn’t.

    DH: As you said, I thought the whole cast was great. There were some that were most well cast than others (Scott, Wallace, Kim, Vegan Police, all of the exes), but it worked well as an ensemble. And THANK YOU for mentioning the fact that Michael Cera wasn’t playing Michael Cera – he seemed to honestly be doing something a little different to me.

    I also give Edgar Wright a ton of credit here. His attention to detail and desire to bring out the little things is what really set this movie apart from other comic movies. It’s remarkable the details he got right and included.

    Can we agree that there should have been more Wallace and Kim Pine, at least?

    MM: Kim Pine, definitely. Biggest character in the book who was really represented poorly in the book. Her connection and past with Scott especially. There was a point where some of us actually thought the story might end with Scott going back to her! Yet, the movie version of her was just kind of bland and snarky, although still humorous. And I sitll loved her anyway. Wallace had some great moments in the film though, and a lot of them. I loved his role. I think his timely appearances made for a good structure. He could have been there more, sure, but he didn’t have to as much as Kim did.

    DH: Agreed. I think Kim’s relationship with him needed to be more developed. I wanted more with them, but we never really got it besides some random additions of “oh, we dated.”

    I think one of the most amazing things that Wright did was perfectly recreate some scenes. For example, the scene where, post their first practice with Knives, Scott, Stephen Stills and Kim are sitting on Young Neil’s bed (with Kim’s legs on Scott’s) while Young Neil played on the computer. It was kind of uncanny how exact he was at times.

    MM: Oh, there were a ton of moments like that. Like I said, you watch the movie and you SEE the book. As much as the characters were always kinetic, you’re literally watching the pages come to life. It was truly wonderful. Granted, things changed, but when the movie got it right, it got it freaking right!

    Honestly, I give the movie a win. I’m usually disappointed when movies get the amount of things it got wrong wrong, but I truly believe that there was enough in this film that was right that it still ultimately got the look, feel, and point of Scott Pilgrim in general. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but ultimately I think that’s ok here.

    DH: Agreed. The weird thing is, even though I had all of these issues with it, I think Edgar Wright did about as good a job as you possibly could. Adapting any thousand + page book into a film is a tough task to handle, but Wright did about as good of a job on it as you possibly could. I’d say it was a win in my book too.

    MM: Ultimately, I guess what it all boils down to: would we recommend this movie as comic book nerds?

    I would. I think fans of the comic will get a good kick out of it, and considering people have liked Watchmen and Kick-Ass, I’m willing to bet the general population is more forgiving than you and I about changes. Either way, I don’t usually like graphic novel adaptations that stray from the plot even slightly, and to this day have enjoyed 3 other films of this caliber. Scott Pilgrim is welcomed into the fold as the 4th.

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    What about you, David? You psyched for all your comic book friends to see it?

    DH: Considering the fact that my only comic friend in Alaska is Brandon (I don’t know any comic people!) and we saw it together, not so much. But I do think that fans of Scott Pilgrim will be very happy with it. I think they’ll leave the theater with a smile on their face and be overwhelmed by the awesome at points. While it wouldn’t be anywhere near my favorite comic movie, I did enjoy it more than any other one I’ve seen this year.

    Now get me some damn Eric O’Grady Ant Man from Edgar Wright already!

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).