Scott Pilgrim is a weakling, doesn’t drink, rarely gets a haircut, only wears his favourite T-shirts. If you just read your own bio, this is your new favourite movie.
Adapted from Brian O’Malley’s comic-book saga with breakneck stylistic verve by Edgar Wright,
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
is the ultimate geek wish-fulfilment flick.
There are no size-zero superhotties here, just girls who are freckled and fleshy. The good-looking guys are evil, the good guys are limp and loveable.
It’s a place where chicks who don’t want to know you suddenly invite you into bed. A place where you’re the invincible kick-ass hero.
Final Fantasy? Hell yeah.
Cue the plot scroll: having met the girl of his dreams – literally, as dorked-up Mary Elizabeth Winstead rollerblades through a desert dreamscape – 22-year-old bass guitarist Scott must defeat her seven evil exes to win her heart.
Why? Because it’s a cool idea.
Proving himself a modern culture-mulcher to match Tarantino, Wright delivers a mash-up of manga, videogames and comic-book style that you’ve never quite seen before on the big screen.
Stat boxes intro new characters (Name, Relationship, Age, Rating). Manga word-sounds go "WHOOSH" and “THONK”. A pee bar depletes when Scott visits the toilet. Why? Because it’s just a cool idea.
Which is all very cute, but Wright’s movie only starts punching above its weight when Scott does. Ready... Fight! Before you can say, ‘Aaaaaarrrrjuuuken!’, Scott Pilgrim explodes with a rock-club smackdown that crackles with dazzling speed, style and choreography.
Scott knows kung fu. Edgar Wright knows how to shoot action. Since Hot Fuzz, this guy’s levelled up.
Opponents shatter into a spray of coins, a Donkey Kong hammer appears out of nowhere, Final Fantasy summons monsters battle it out in a guitar hero duel.
Often slashing the frame into jagged split-screens, Wright’s cine-style throbs with a hardcore obsession with Japan (the Mecca of animation and videogames).
It’s sizzle-reel cinema, a movie for the Generation ADD that attempts to tell a story using only the cool bits. But this is what stops the movie snatching a higher score. Scott Pilgrim is the Scott Pilgrim trailer for two hours.
Next: Scott Pilgrim Vs The World verdict [page-break]
Unfortunately, this brilliant coin-op arcade referencing extends to the lack of story. The first time ‘DING DONG’ appears when the doorbell goes, it’s pretty cool. But the effect wears off.
A little too repetitive, a little too long,
often feels like a jumble of nudges and winks, from the Mortal Kombat-style final opponent to the green ray that defeats an actor who once played Superman.
At times it feels more exhausting than breathless. Witty and buzzy and clever for sure, but needing more emotional whallop. Scott’s health-bar never really flashes red – even when he dies, you know he can always try again.
It’s a game where it’s occasionally hard to see what’s really at stake. Then again, pick up and play: that’s why it’s such a blast.
Beefed up by a terrific cast, lit up by Chris Evans (Johnny Storm as an ego-actor who calls action on his own set), Brandon Routh (Superman as a vegan rock-god with Dr Manhattan-esque powers) and Kieran Culkin’s aces turn as Pilgrim’s gay housemate.
As for Hollywood’s geek-chic king Cera, his shrugging slacker isn’t exactly a magnetic screen presence but you couldn’t customise a better on-screen avatar for the nerd-herd.
But this could be the movie that persuade major studios to trust Wright with a lot more pocket money. He’s proved he has the ability to tap the pulse of a major pop-subculture.
And if each one of the world’s Pilgrims buys a movie ticket, he’ll be a Hollywood player who’s hard to beat.
w00t! Edgar Wright levels up with a fun, fizzy beat-‘em-up that’s part action, part comedy and all geek.
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