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Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Genre Fantasy
Year: 2010
 
Review:

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is brought to us by the guy that gave us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. His name is Edgar Wright, whose dark British comedy films have become cult hits with the help of partner-in-crime, Simon Pegg. However, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is a departure from his usual brilliant garb. It's a non-British production and Wright ensured all of his ensemble weren't British, although one still managed to slip through. Scott Pilgrim vs The World may be a complete reversal in setting and casting for the director, but there's still plenty of Edgar's magic to go around.

He's chosen to adapt a graphic novel about a young 20-something year old guy named Scott Pilgrim, whose girlfriend insists he must defeat her seven evil exes to win her heart. The plot sounds pretty ridiculous - crazy even, but when you get that Scott Pilgrim vs The World is aimed squarely at the video game generation you'll understand how it works. Just like retro arcade games, you've got a hero on a quest, who must defeat several "bosses" (ex-boyfriends) in order to "clock" the game (rescue the girl).

Scott Pilgrim is not to be taken seriously and Wright created the film along the lines of a musical with fight choreography taking the place of chorus numbers. Although there still are numbers, to identify evil ex-boyfriends and to tally Scott's score. Remember that ridiculous bit with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach where he's hopping through the jungle racking up points? That's what is going on here, except it spans the whole film. Now they've obviously paid more attention to detail with a graphic novel to guide the style and storyboarding, but there's that ever-present retro video game feel.

Arcade nostalgia is cool... look at the menu screens for The IT Crowd, t-shirt logos of Pacman and Game Over. It's an age when people get a kick out of looking back to the old days and Scott Pilgrim clearly has the right mix of alternative music and arcade cool to rack up the points with fans. Michael Cera is another whole component, bringing his George Michael Bluth suave dorkiness to the party from the days of Arrested Development. Wright chucks in a bunch of references, using old school video game soundtracks and even the theme from Seinfeld - wha?

Cera underplays it as usual, has great timing and represents a generation of understated cool. He's supported by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who could have been a young Kate Winslet and Kieran Culkin, whose gay friend role helps underpin some of the whimsy in the witty interchanges. Jason Schwartzmann even brings his dark, cult cool to the table as a fitting antithesis to Michael Cera in a final showdown of epic proportions. The ensemble is chock-full of up-and-coming stars, who work together without much or any adult supervision.

The rapid editing, special effects, intermittent on screen titles and neon graphics are distracting at first, but it's not long before you understand the currency of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. He's no ordinary guy... part of a band, growing up, on the look out for the next gorgeous girl and trying to stay left-of-centre. There's an eerie connection with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the romance, pairing a quirky yet fairly average joe with an even quirkier, cute and mysterious babe... in a cold climate with a Juno sensibility.

The action is like something out of a comic book, which is good because it is. Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle successfully blended cartoon action with kung fu in a sort of musical of its own. The sidesplitting humour and vicious action set pieces took the traditional action comedy from oddball cop partners to new heights and realms even. Scott Pilgrim vs The World has cleverly tied in before the new Tron: Legacy as a boy enters an arcade game to find his father. Instead they've turned it into a love story, which holds enough reality to call it Earth punctuated by fantasy elements to create a sense of continuity between high fantasy and a quirky reality.

This is a bold film, which will appeal to anyone whose played Pacman. However, there's no denying the finesse with which Edgar Wright has created this spectacle. He's taken a predominantly visual piece and adapted it so lovingly that it maintains its humanity, captures our hearts and gets us right behind the hero as if he had some sort of superpowers. The comedy has a crisp bite, the romance is sweet, the action is spellbinding and it all sits together beautifully. Even if you don't know what Guitar Hero is, you'll be able to enjoy Scott Pilgrim vs The World for its timeless love story and the new packaging just makes this adventure so much more entertaining.

The bottom line: Dazzling.

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