Edgar Wright rose to prominence with the British television comedy Spaced. A unique take on the sitcom, it was a pop-culture frenzy at every turn, woven together with a sweet storyline that is the perfect antidote to any US sitcom on the market. His subsequent collaborations with stars and co-writers Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, namely Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have cemented Wright’s place as a skilled observer of pop culture, and a terrific genre filmmaker to boot. Departing from his ‘Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy’ momentarily, Wright has turned to another pop culture phenomenon: comics. The adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novels for the big screen couldn’t be in more capable hands.
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, Youth in Revolt) is in his early 20s, and has been single since a bad breakup over a year ago. He begins dating high-school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), much to the general disdain of his friends and band-mates in Sex Bob-omb. One night, Scott dreams of a mysterious girl who turns out to be Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Die Hard 4.0). Pursuing her, Scott soon learns than in order to be with the girl of his dreams he must first fight her seven evil exes.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a pop-culture frenzy. Some may say overload. From the 8-bit SNES-inspired Universal logo and theme at the start of the film, Scott Pilgrim is filled with wall-to-wall video game references. With visual cues of 1-Ups and fight screens, audiences will not leave without knowing why Pac-Man was named as such for the west. Like the original graphic novels, it is too cool for school. The soundtrack features original material by Broken Social Scene, Beck and Metric, as well as score by Nigel Godrich, the evil genius who has produced albums for the likes of Radiohead, Beck and Air. The main character is wearing a Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt. Yes kids, it is retro cool chic at its finest, and it doesn’t let up for a second. Occasionally, this can be tiresome, especially when we know from a quick finger count how many more of these ‘cool’ fight scenes we have left. Yet geeks will one day inherit the Earth, and this film is evidence as to why their references are better than yours.
For all of this surface sheen, there is a beating heart to Scott Pilgrim (both the film and the character) and an essential sweetness behind its protestations of apathy. Michael Cera has crafted Scott Pilgrim into Michael Cera, the hapless lad that can be found in all of his films, but here there is a genuine likability to the imagine. The resolution seems fixed from the beginning, but perhaps doesn’t end up exactly where you expect. Edgar Wright brings all of his rapid editing superpowers to the table in the action sequences, and the net effect is that while you may not be entirely sure what hit you, it has left you in a good place with a strange desire to hit the video arcades.
Overall rating: ★★★★