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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenplay: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
Stars: Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Kieran Culkin (Wallace Wells), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Mark Webber (Stephen Stills), Johnny Simmons (Young Neil), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim), Satya Bhabha (Matthew Patel), Chris Evans (Lucas Lee), Mae Whitman (Roxy Richter), Brandon Routh (Todd Ingram), Jason Schwartzman (Gideon Gordon Graves), Keita Saitou (Kyle Katayanagi), Shota Saito (Ken Katayanagi), Bill Hader (The Voice)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Year of Release: 2010
Country: U.S.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Movies have always been a bastard art form, drawing bits and pieces from all previous arts and assembling them into something that is simultaneously modern and ancient; it’s part of what makes movies so unique and compelling. And, because the cinema developed in tandem with other forms of mass media during the 20th century, it is not surprising that filmmakers have taken advantage of virtually every opportunity to incorporate other forms of media into their films, from images of radios and phonographs in the silent era to the omnipresence of computer imagery today. From that perspective, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may very well be (at least at this particular point in history), the sine qua non of multimedia cinema. Based on a graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, it leaves no mediated stone unturned and tosses anything and everything into its conceptual blender with an infectious wild abandon. It’s like a bad young adult novel crossed with a kung fu movie and spiced with several decades of MTV videos and told via the narrative and visual logic of a Nintendo game. Daring viewers will find much to marvel at, the least of which is the cocksure moxie with which director Edgar Wright plunges into the insanity, although more traditional viewers will probably wonder if they’ve wandered into a bad, bad acid trip. Like Kick-Ass earlier this year, it may be too meta for its own good.

The story concerns the titular Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, unsure and awkward as ever), a meek, 22-year-old nobody living in Toronto whose biggest accomplishment is playing bass in a punk rock band called Sex Bomb-Omb. His second biggest accomplishment is dating a high school senior named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), although they have yet to go beyond holding hands (is that even a base?). Scott’s romance with Knives is short-lived, however, because he soon falls head over heels for New York transplant Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a cynical beauty with an ever-changing head of primary-color-dyed hair. When Scott finally gets Ramona to go out with him (after a disastrous first meeting at a party when he tries to enthrall her with his story of how Pac-Man was originally called Puck-Man), he discovers that he is in way over his head. Romance with Ramona comes at a price: He must battle each of her seven evil exes, who have joined together into a league under the biggest and baddest ex of them all, a pretentious record producer named Gideon Gordon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).

That brief synopsis doesn’t even begin to do justice to Scott Pilgrim’s bizarre narrative detours and ADD-addled sensibilities, and that is just as well since this is a movie that really needs to be experienced firsthand; the result will be either a sense of giddy enthrallment or confused annoyance, determined largely by your tolerance for multimedia overload, shock cuts, and postmodern abandon. If you find yourself wondering why skinny, awkward Scott is suddenly able to fly like Superman and fight like Bruce Lee when confronted with one of the evil exes (or, for that matter, is able to command the attention of any females, much less two at the same time), then you’re probably in the wrong theater. You just have to go with the flow; otherwise you’re going to drown.

Director Edgar Wright, best known for his satirical collaborations with star Simon Pegg (2004’s Shawn of the Dead and 2007’s Hot Fuzz), knows that the material demands an all-or-nothing approach, and he cuts no corners in propelling the story forward with a gaggle of narrative, visual, and aural devices borrowed from every conceivable form of media: We get subtitle blocks informing us of character traits, canned laughter from sitcoms, shifting aspect ratios, cartoonish sounds writ large across the screen every time a phone rings or a bell whistles, split screens to mimic graphic novel layouts, video-game-like scores and avatars (including a “pee bar” when Scott needs to relieve himself), and plenty of slow motion so that we may indulge all the hyperkinetic, physics-defying movement, particularly the hyperbolic Looney Tunes-stylized violence. Characters are flung across rooms, slammed with giant hammers, and pummeled repeatedly with nary a scratch or dent to speak of; it is probably the closest Western cinema has come to the slapstick violence of Stephen Chow, and it doesn’t really matter if you view it all as straight-up literal or a chop-socky metaphor for Scott’s various insecurities. Take you pick.

Somewhere amidst all the visual overload the actors still manage to make an impression. Cera plays yet another variation on the stumbling, unsure Michael Cera hero, which works as a kind of anchor in the multimedia mayhem; we need that familiarity amid all the exaggeration, including his oversexed, but deadpan gay roommate (Kieran Culkin), the high-strung lead singer in his band (Mark Webber) and the perpetually angry female drummer (Kim Pine), and, of course, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Ramona, the ultimate obscure object of desire whose seeming disengagement from anything emotional only makes her that much more desirable. The fact that the film manages to make us care about whether or not she and Scott wind up together may be its greatest feat.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2-Disc Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack

Aspect Ratio1.85:1
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 surround
  • English DVS 2.0 surround
  • French DTS 5.1 surround
  • Spanish DTS 5.1 surround
  • Subtitles English, Spanish, French
  • Feature audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall, and Author Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Technical audio commentary with director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright and director of photography Bill Pope
  • Cast audio commentary with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong and Brandon Routh
  • Cast audio commentary with Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin and Mark Webber
  • Deleted and alternate scenes with commentary from director/producer/ co-writer Edgar Wright
  • Alternate footage
  • “Scott Pilgrim vs. the Bloopers” featurette
  • Behind-the-scenes photo galleries
  • Galleries: Production photos, art galleries, and marketing concepts
  • Trivia track
  • “Making of
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” documentary
  • “Music” featurette
  • “You Too Can Be Sex Bob-Omb” featurette
  • Pre-Production featurettes
  • “The Music of
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” featurette
  • “Visual Effects” featurette.
  • “Sound Work” featurette
  • Theatrical trailers and TV spots
  • “Adult Swim: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation”
  • “Scott Pilgrim vs. the Censors” TV safe version
  • Behind-the-scenes production blog
  • Storyboard picture-in-picture viewing option
  • DistributorUniversal Pictures Home Entertainment
    Release DateNovember 9, 2010

    Universal’s high-def presentation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on a 50GB dual-layer disc looks fantastic. The image, which was originally shot on a mix of both 35mm and HD video, is sharp and well-detailed, which gives its hypermediated levels of imagery that much more of a kick. Much of the film is darker than I remember, with many of the scenes taking place either at night or in dark interiors, and the transfer handles black levels and shadow detail with great aplomb. The film is purposefully drab in terms of color until Ramona enters the picture, after which colors (especially her hair) are bright and graphic-novel intense. The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 surround soundtrack is likewise first-rate, with speaker-crushing bass that gives the various fight sequences plenty of weight and heft despite their patent unreality, and Sex Bomb-Omb’s hard-rockin’ tunes (penned by Beck) have room-filling vibrancy and sonic detail.
    Universal clearly understood that fans of Scott Pilgrim would demand an overload of supplements, and they provided nothing less. For those with the time and wherewithal, the disc has not two, not three, but four audio commentaries that probably cover just about every facet of the film you could imagine. You can choose from a feature commentary by director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall, and graphic novel author Bryan Lee O’Malley; a technical commentary by Wright and director of photography Bill Pope; and two different cast commentaries, one with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Brandon Routh and one with Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin and Mark Webber. I sampled each of them and found all of them to be entertaining and informative, but I imagine that only the hardest core of hard-core fans will listen through all four of them. You also have the option of turning on a trivia track and/or a U-Control storyboard picture-in-picture while watching the film.

    After that there is a slew of supplementary material documenting the film’s production, starting with the 50-minute behind-the-scenes documentary “The Making of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” which includes interviews with all the major players in front of and behind the camera and a ton of production footage. There is also a 12-minute featurette about the use of music in the film and the three-minute “You Too Can Be Sex Bob-Omb,” in actor Mark Webber learns how to play one of the film’s song before going in front of the camera. Individual aspects of the film’s production are covered in another bunch of featurettes. “Pre-Production” is a huge category that includes featurettes on “Pre-Production Footage,” “Animatics,” “Rehearsal Videos,” “Props, Rigs, and Sets Montage,” “Casting Tapes,” and “Hair and Make-Up Footage”; “Visual Effects” includes three featurettes that show layer by layer how the film’s effects scenes were created using both practical effects and CGI; “Sound Work” documents the creation of the film’s sound effects; and “The Music of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” includes four complete music videos and video remixes from DJ Osymyso. There is also a plethora of galleries of production photos, art, and various marketing concepts, as well as Edgar Wright’s photo blog that he kept during the production. The producers have also culled the cutting room floor for a bunch of material, including alternative edits, deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Wright, a blooper reel, and snippets from the “TV safe” version of the film. Finally, you also get the inclusion of a short animated prequel about Scott and Kim dating that played Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” and a bunch of theatrical trailers and TV spots.

    Overall Rating: (3)

    Thoughts? E-mail James Kendrick

    All images copyright © Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

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