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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Blu-ray Review


Scott Pilgrim Faces the World Movie Review

Beginning with a pixilated Atari-like Universal logo, complete with the familiar sounding bleeps and squawks from that gaming system as it blips out the usually orchestrated Universal Studios theme music, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World announces its thunderously playful attitude as a sugary sweet twentysomething romantic comedy to its unsuspecting audiences.  It is a technically marvelous film that, without apologies or explanations, consistently operates as a ceremonious tribute to the wonderful world of video games and anime.  Directed by fellow Grindhouse alumnus Edgar Wright (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Don’t), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a razor-sharp film that, with one hand, masterfully serves up thick slices of goopy pop culture relativity while balancing, with the other hand, a narratively inclined bildungsroman about a boy, a girl, his other girl and her seven evil exes.

Adapted from the beloved graphic novels written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World tells the story of one 23-year-old’s conversion from slacker to go-getter (with special emphasis on the “go get her” part of that transformation).  Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is own rock star hero.  He plays bass for the The Sex Bob-ombs and juvenilely pals around town with an underage girlfriend named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong).  Living in Toronto with his sarcastic gay roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin), Pilgrim, as a slacker, doesn’t aim for anything real and just lives, finding himself mostly “booooooorrrrrrred” to piss by everything.

That is until a dream, starring one Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), awakens him from his slacker anthem and calls him to a life of duty.  Once convinced that Ramona is real, Pilgrim spends most of his time thinking about her and ways to hang with her, the way young lovers do.  Once this is humorously accomplished, Pilgrim and Flowers enjoy a few days together, though he can’t bring himself to break things off with swooning Knives.  Yet, when Ramona’s ex-boyfriends (and one girlfriend) randomly show up and challenge Pilgrim to epically duel – in video game fashion - for the right to date her, he discovers that, in life, some things are definitely worth fighting for.

Wright’s transwarped love affair with quick cuts, clever transitions, campy wit, and pop-culture relativity is amazingly slapped all over this picture.  With skill.  With control.  With a clear vision and comedic purpose.  This is true art, frame by frame.  Packing a solid punch of cartoonishly glazed color in every detail, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World sneaks its way along, minute by minute, until you are left with nothing short of a pioneering film destined to inspire a whole new generation of technical filmmakers.

Yeah, it’s that remarkable of a film.  And since comparisons are bound to be made, let me go right ahead and open the door.  While Nolan’s Inception has its classically-timed calculations and Bond-like appeal, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has the pop and fizzle freshness of a cool can of soda on a hot summer day.  Both are epic and grand.  Both spot-on in tone, texture and triumph.  Both are wicked-smart forms of entertainment and sorely needed in a humdrum summer of lackadaisical releases.  Even still, both dazzle the senses with neither being better than the other.  That being said, I guess you could call Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, since there is a narrowness in its respective audience, the shoegazer’s version of the high-browed intelligence in Nolan’s Inception.

Cera, still the ultimate Charlie Brown in human form, certainly doesn’t add a significant amount of layer to his well-known screen persona.  He doesn’t have to, folks.  His movies make money because people want to see him to his shtick.  But, if anything, Wright manages to transform Cera’s spineless energy into a sword-carrying action star of Kung Fu cinema.  Volleying over his opponents in ballet-like feats of skilled precision, Cera absolutely pulls off the physical demands of the role and furrows the brow as well as any tough guy Hollywood star.

In fact, all of the film’s stars – including its female leads - pull off some pretty glamorously ingenious fight scenes throughout the movie, making this movie an equal opportunity employer.  Winstead, in the role as Pilgrim’s muse, gets to roll around, swing a giant hammer, do black flips, high kicks, and fall down a flight of stairs just like the boys do.  Yet, just like the changing colors of her hair, she morphs on screen with stunning results.  When called to be coyly aloof she absolutely delivers and then, when the two starry-eyed lovers share a few private moments together, she’s sexy as hell, leaving me to believe Winstead might be the break-out star of Wright’s movie.

But let’s get this straight, Wright is a genius young filmmaker.  He might even be the best of the new wave of cinematic storytellers. The video game and cultural textures he adds to the film – transferring one scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World into a full-on Seinfeld skit complete with the familiar music cues – are extensively detailed and carefully planned.  With meticulous precision, he can deconstruct and reorganize an action scene into a viscous onslaught of mythical proportions.  Yet, each scene seems so characteristically anarchistic.  That’s the real beauty in his work.  He makes everything about them seem so effortlessly rich in entertainment and never selfish in rationale.  Certainly, this film is the bubblegum masterpiece Michael Bay wishes he had the intelligence to make.

Those interested in a traditionally told narrative need not apply. Seriously. Once whipped into its conceptualized fury, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a colossal juggernaut of cinematic zeroes and ones that will probably put off audiences looking for something a bit more subtle and straight-forward in approach. Poised to produce some pretty polarizing critical and fan-garnered opinions, it might be best to describe Edgar Wright’s movie as being the Blade Runner of the hipster genre.  While it looks nothing like Ridley Scott’s misunderstood masterpiece from 1982, I have a feeling, much like what happened to Blade Runner, that it is bound to be celebrated more and more as a revolutionary film the further away we get from its year of release.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is sharply written and thrillingly rendered; it’s visually rich and vibrant and sonically superior to most films.  While it might be narrow in that its true heart speaks to audiences raised on video games and MTV, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a true convergence of sound and energy not to be missed by those interested in seeing the future of filmmaking.


Component Grades
Movie
 
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
 
5 Stars
     
Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 9, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: DTS 5.1; French: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (as download); DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; Social network features; Mobile features

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World kicks into the HD world with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. It’s a festive celebration of warm colors and pop kitsch, yet retains – in some scenes – the lo-fi appearance Wright and Pope intended. The effects are splendidly rendered and keep the film zooming from one sequence to the next with video game flash-and-bang precision and palette. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a treasure itself; revealing a great layer of sound that few theatres could ever do justice. The surround sound is nonstop and immersive and the bass rocks the floor with the whooping of man-to-man battles.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • The filmmakers know exactly what they have here and, as a result, share their experiences working on this masterpiece in no less than FOUR commentaries. They are 1) Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall and original graphic novel author Bryan Lee O'Malley, 2) Technical Commentary with Wright and DP Bill Pope, 3) Cast commentary with Cera, Schwartzman, Winstead, Wong and Routh, and 4) Cast commentary with Kendrick, Plaza, Culkin and Webber.

Special Features:

The splendidly favorable offerings continue with a healthy dose of supplemental features encompassing the making of the film and the experience of rendering some of the effects shots. It also comes loaded with information about the music and a virtual guitar lesson. The Blu-ray is BDLive enabled and features UControl which offers some nice PIP storyboards. There is also a trivia track and several publicity galleries.

The extensive collection of supplements are as follows:

  • 21 Deleted Scenes w/ optional commentary from Wright (27:12)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the Bloopers (10 min)
  • The Making of 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' (50 min)
  • Pre-Production (90 min)
  • Music Featurette (16 min)
  • You Too Can Be a Sex Bob-omb (3 min)
  • Alternate Footage/Edits (12 min)
  • Bits and Pieces (7 min)
  • Music Videos (10 min)
  • OSYMYSO Remixes (10 min)
  • Visual Effects Before and After (15 min)
  • Roxy Fight Ribbon Version (1 min)
  • Phantom Montage Hi-Speed Footage (4 min)
  • Soundworks Collection: Sound for Film Profile (6 min)
  • Adult Swim: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation (4 min)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the Censors (4 min)
  • Blogs: The Director’s Diary (45 min)

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