September 19, 2010


So, it's been more than a month since I first saw Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim. I haven't, however, been lazy or not wanting to write about it. When I first saw it I was still a-buzz from Festival and had had my mind whirligigged by Nolan's Inception. I wanted to see Scott Pilgrim again before I wrote about it, I wanted some distance.

Now, having seen it again... it still kicks ass as a totally fun rom-com/video-game/comic-book/kung-fu cinematic extravaganza. What Wright has crafted here is a super-caffeinated hyper-kinetic mash-up of, well, just about everything. At once faithful to its graphic novel origins while at the same time being totally and inescapably an Edgar Wright film, and the gods have mercy on his poor editor. No film is quite cut like an Edgar Wright film, and none more than Pilgrim; this could be the apotheosis of Wright’s style with lightning cuts, zooms, wipes and split-screens etc layered on, giving even scenes of dialogue an almost unharnessed energy. But this never gets out of control: the film is incredibly tight, hurtling along at guitar-thrumming speed.

I'm no fan of the source material: I've read most of Bryan Lee O'Malley's books and enjoyed them but I haven't bought them and haven't re-read them. I know that the first half of the film sticks pretty closely to the source material, but past that I'm not sure how much is Wright and his writing partner Michael Bacall, and how much is originally O'Malley. I'm not really all that fussed, to be honest. Even with the stuff straight from the book, Wright brings his own energy to the film giving it all pulsating life.

Something I truly appreciate, is that each action scene has been crafted differently. Each fight, each super-charged dust-up has its own feel, its own rhythm and serves a different purpose to the overall film; to the story, the characters and themes. How is it that this year the kings of action-scene craft, usually the purview of mega-macho American directors, are intelligent Brits? Vaughn, Nolan and Wright have all blown me away this year with inventive and stunning action sequences. Wright gives himself a bit of a leg up, hiring none other than Bill Pope as DoP. Y'know. The guy who shot the freakin' Matrix. Interestingly, he also shot the pilot for Freaks and Geeks, so Scott Pilgrim seems like a pretty good mid-point.

And that's not the only intelligent hiring choice Wright made. He made a tonne, most obviously with his cast. Michael Cera is going through something of a backlash at the moment, but here as the eponymous hero he totally nails it. If you have issues with Cera as a person, or the sound of his voice or whatever this ain't gonna change that. But here, Cera is actually playing against type. His Pilgrim is a bit of an idiot, occasionally thoughtless and bounding with some bizarre energy. Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the enigmatic dream girl Ramona Flowers possibly has the toughest role: she has to be mysterious, yet we have to understand Pilgrim's attraction and their relationship. So, the movie kinda hangs on her... and she is fantastic. She downplays everything, with hints of the sadness inside. It likely won't be a career making/defining role, if only partly because it's hard to actually recognise her. Every other single cast member? Astoundingly, amazingly awesome in what little time they get on screen. From Jonny Simmons as Young Neil and Alison Pill as Kim Pine, from Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram to Jason Schwartzman as Gideon Graves; they all find something to their characters, the all find a way to bring something out in those small moments they have. I wanted more, just because I wanted more of them all. It's a ridiculous riches of actorly talent, all looking like they're having a ridiculous amount of fun.

And if you've got this far in this review, you can tell they weren't the only ones. I had a ball with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It's about growing up, about relationships, about facing up to your own past and yourself (even if it is only to take yourself out for brunch). It's the best video-game film ever made, it's a wacky comic-book of a film with visible sound effects and thumping action. I loved it; from the cast and characters to the look and feel. I haven't even talked about the music! Or the sound effects - how Wright makes excellent use of 8-bit video-game effects and other ambient noises to punctuate scenes and characters thoughts. I'm hankering to get my hands on the soundtrack(s). And writing about it all here, I just want to watch it all again. When's the DVD out?

1 comment:

  1. I may have to get back to the cinema to see this again after that review.