By Jack Holmes
Following the mass critical acclaim of his TV series Spaced, and the two-punch combo of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright was truly at the top of his game when it came to creating Scott Pilgrim VS The World. This film is arguably the crowning jewel in his career, demonstrating his ability to mix high-octane fight scenes with perfectly timed and executed writing, all the while drawing perfectly from the film’s source material.
The film follows Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year-old struggling to come to terms with adulthood, who’s currently dating a high-schooler, yet cheats on her with his Amazon delivery girl, Ramona Flowers. He must then defeat her seven evil exes to win over her heart, while simultaneously dealing with his own childish views of what a relationship actually consists of.
The cast consists of a mix of well-fleshed-out characters, largely due to the expert casting. The core cast of Scott (Michael Cera), Romona Flowers (Mary Winstead) and Knives Chau, (Ellen Wong) add a pleasant humour to a plot that could have otherwise made just about every character an unlikely nightmare to connect with. None more so than Michael Cera, who manages to make his protagonist relateable even when enacting some particularly devious actions. Scott’s love triangle with Romona and Knives offers key instances where Scott becomes unlikeable and it can be difficult to connect with his character when he cheats, lies and generally acts like a selfish child. It is also these aspects, however, that give the film its deeply human depths. No core characters are without flaw when broken down to their key aspects.
The supporting actors are also just as expertly cast with Chris Evans, as Ramona’s movie star ex, being one of the high points of the entire movie. Evans was showing off his Captain America bravado long before he was paid to. Villain Gideon Graves, portrayed by indie movie veteran Jason Schwartzman, is great as a big bad and Aubrey Plaza would perhaps count as the equivalent of a comic-relief character if the entire cast wasn’t so wonderfully well written.
It’s not all surface level entertainment either. The film brings up issues of following heart and head in relationships, the importance of honesty, not just to partners but to yourself as well, and the general themes of growing up. It’s all done wonderfully subtly, leading to a final movie that has huge rewatch potential, and one where the meaning taken away changes as you, the watcher, change your perspective on certain aspects of human emotion.
Fight scenes are sometimes a little crowded with perhaps a little too much lens flair at times, but overall Scott Pilgrim boasts some of the most beautifully shot action sequences of the past decade.
The video games and pop culture references throughout are by far the most successful of the current generation of movies latching on to the popularity of nerd and video game culture. Where Pixels and Wreck it Ralph largely missed the point of their source material, Scott Pilgrim relishes in it. It’s Mario references are done with clear knowledge of its connotations, rather than simply adding pop culture figures for their likeness alone.
The soundtrack is one of the best of the 21st century, composed largely by the Grammy Award winning Beck, and focusing on the Canadian indie rock talent that was just beginning to dominate when the film was released. The bands covered included Death From Above and Metric who have now gone from strength to strength, releasing new albums and being honoured with multiple awards.
Overall, Scott Pilgrim is a near perfect movie that’s so stylish it’s almost impossible not to love. Originality flows through every scene and it’s difficult to pick out single scenes when almost every minute of the movie offers something new and fresh. If you want to see the king of the comic book movies, look no further than Scott Pilgrim VS The World.