Scott Pilgrim vs. the World | Wesley Fenlon | Not with a bang but a whimper.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott gets it.

Question: how hard must a movie rock to escape from the pull of the Earth’s gravity, to jettison itself from our planet and our universe, and then to carve out its own world with the power of an electric bassline and pop-culture references to define a generation?

Answer: about as hard as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a nonstop whirlwind of energy which delights in cranking the fun up to 12 or 13–all the while winking back at us, because it knows a simple 11 would’ve sufficed.

Edgar Wright doesn’t settle for good enough.  Every inch of Scott Pilgrim is meticulously detailed, every scene packed with sounds and costumes and posters and special effects that, quite frankly, make Scott Pilgrim the film a more unique creation than Scott Pilgrim the comic.  In comics, onomatopoeia are almost necessary to transform the silent print medium into something we can fully relate to, but in film the audio pretty much takes care of that itself.  Yet this alternate reality, this wonderful vision of Toronto brought to life as a 21st century version of magical realism becomes more authentic and individual for all its comical sound effects, CG embellishments and narrative exposition.

Wright is relentlessly inventive, employing a dazzling variety of effects that blend together to create this coherent piece of media that doesn’t quite behave like any other movie out there.  And just when you think you’ve seen all the tricks, an old one will suddenly be used in a different way, as if the blend of sight gags and chiptunes and soundbytes and references could be endlessly combined in innovative ways.  This is just what we get.

A very few fans may gripe that Cera’s Scott isn’t the same as the Scott from O’Malley’s comics, or that the secondary cast are marginalized to make way for the hugely entertaining battle scenes.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a movie that never slows down once it gets up to speed, and combat does take center stage.  But it’s only a sign of excellence that we want more time with these characters–they’re far from neglected, all played with style and talent, and besides, this is Scott Pilgrim’s show.  He kicks ass, smiles goofily, rocks his heart out and freaks out about his haircut in perfectly measured proportions.

If this is a genre film, I’ll be damned to tell you which one. No action movie has this kind of music, crafted by Beck and other visionaries into an intrinsic element of the film’s world.  No romantic comedy has this much cultural awareness, this keen a sense of the baggage we all carry with us writ large with glowing katanas and videogame sound effects.  And no comic film ever used the elements of comic books so blatantly or originally, mixing illustrations and wild camera technique and multi-frame action to suit the scene at hand.

I don’t know how it could be possible not to like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when it enjoys itself so much.  As long as you’re willing to leave our world and travel to one very similar, which delights in the sights and sounds we’ve grown oblivious to and promises to one-up your expectations at every turn, you will find something to love in Scott’s fantastic battle.

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