Movie Review: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

“Step up your game Scott. Break up the L word…


The other L word…


It’s love Scott I wasn’t trying to trick you.”

They really went all out to capture the retro game vibe that’s central to Scott Pilgrim because they even start in the logos with a delightful eight-bit version of the universal studios logo. I think it sets us up perfectly for the visual style prevalent in the movie.

Following on from that the first establishing shot resembles the panels of a comic book or manga which references both the source material the story it taken from as well as a broader reference to geek culture in general.

OMG Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler!

Another fun little visual gag are the infoboxes which pop up by way of introducing characters. They bark back to video games where you can find out all about a character by clicking a little box above their head.

While I’m mentioning all the great style choices and references to gaming culture in general it would be a disservice to not mention the actual Scott Pilgrim game which is also based upon the graphic novel and which is a lacklustre beat ‘em up with very little of the charm present in movie.

I would totally date someone called Knives. But come on Scott it’s sketchy as hell shes 17.

Seeing as Edgar wright was involved in this it’s fair to say a great deal of this review will involve talking about the visual style for his he is well noted. Those unfamiliar with what I’m talking about I recommend watching the cornetto trilogy and then rewatching this movie and you’ll see what I mean.

Speaking of interesting visual choices they uses text bubbles and sound boxes to both hammer in the gaming/comic book comparisons and also to add flair to otherwise humdrum actions such as ringing a doorbell. No longer is it just something you and the characters hear, in this movie you see it to and it makes it more interesting because of it.

As a fan of the source material (and I will try not to mention it too much) I was a little disappointed they didn’t flesh out Stephen “the talent” stilles but he did well nonetheless

Sex bob omb is such a stupid name for a band but they are so good. To this day I still have the full soundtrack cued up on ITunes to pump me up when I need it.

I’d like to talk a little about the intro now. When Sex Bob Omb start playing the camera moves way back. Because of this we are put into a specific perspective. In this case we go from people just watching a movie to someone seeing this band at a gig.

Now I want to talk a little about casting.

Michael Cera really got typecast and this movie although brilliant didn’t help.

As cute as she is before I saw this movie I’ve only ever seen Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in one of the more forgettable final destinations movies. She does however make a great heroine in the newer movie 10 cloverfield lane which I watched recently.

Also Macauley culkins brother is in this. Weird right. He’s bloody good though.

And captain America (Chris Evans) is in this but he’s ditched the American flag costume and shield for a leather jacket and skateboard and he’s good as well. I remember thinking about this role after learning that he’s actually a really shy person in real life and thinking that it was surprising I couldn’t match the role with someone who was nervous doing interviews.

Aubrey Plaza as well. Until I saw parks and rec and saw her names in the intro a few hundred times i had such a hard time remembering her name. I always just said that moody girl or the person I’d pick for a live action remake of MTV’s Daria but she’s good in this even if she’s not memorable.

Oh and Brandon Routh or as some of you may know him mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent in Superman Returns (psst…doesn’t he look a lot like superman) He’s funny and I love Routh so I enjoyed his role as the telekinetic vegan.

I’ll transition back into talking about the visual choices for the movie now. Speaking of which because this movies draws from games and movies it makes excellent use of cuts whereas some movies can get caught in awkward or messy transitions between scenes Scott Pilgrim vs The World just takes us there sometimes on the middle of a sentence.

In many ways Scott is a very real character, sure he has an inflated sense of self worth but doesn’t everyone. Our own impression of ourselves is never without its flaws. It’s a common fact that we see ourselves as 20% more attractive than we actually are which makes me wonder just how ugly some of us really are? Enough so our brain feels the need to hide it. I really liked the pacman story because it showed he was this normal guy and as someone who uses trivia to break awkward silences I really see where he’s coming from.

Speaking of his inflated ego I liked Scott line to knives in relation to her thinking his band were good “I knew I personally rocked but I never suspected we rocked as a unit”

Some people might not really see what I’m on about in regards to Scott thinking he’s awesome and all that and i completely see where you’d get that firstly because for time the movies cuts a lot out. They kinda had to just for the sake of time but also because Michael Cera is genetically designed to be an awkward and modest little puppy so you can’t really see it but as I alluded to above there are certain elements in the book that Scott imagined or edited to make himself look better and feed the ego.

I did promise I’d try not to make mention that the source material too often this is after all a review of the movie and not the graphic novels on which it’s based but while I’m talking about it, the dream sequence where he first sees Ramona isn’t explained as much as I’d like.

I will add that they do talk about it but only in a throwaway line which just raises further questions and they character never answer when I shout at the screen so they remain unanswered. To explain for those who still aren’t sure, Ramona can travel through a dimensional pocket of space which just so happens to coincide with Scott’s unconscious mind. In the movies she uses it as a shortcut when making deliveries for Amazon. She claims she can go about three miles in 15 seconds which begs the question why is she the only person taking advantage of Scott’s mind….someone should use the thing.

I am glad they kept it in though firstly because it eases us into the idea that this world isn’t like our own…it is Canada after all. And also because they got to make a heavy handed comment about how she’s his dream girl.

While we’re on Ramona. She might seem cool and edgy but I’d be wary of the girl who goes to a party and then spends the entire night standing alone against a wall avoiding contact and not even bothering you look at her phone or whatever. She’s either not looking for company in which case she’s not going to appreciate being hit on even if you’re going have an awesome pacman story loaded up. Or everyone is avoiding her in which case there’s probably a reason.

A technique i never considered back when I was single and dating was literally side stepping up to a girl like a crab. I guess she can’t back off if she doesn’t see you coming…is that the idea Scott.

Also the scene where Scott asks a bunch about of people at the party about Ramona is strikingly similar to a scene from the movie Mean Girls (with Lindsay Lohan)

For those convinced by Michael Cera and his awkward charm that Scott isn’t a bit of a jerk look no for further than Kim (the red headed drummer played by Allison Pill) it’s revealed he dated her at some point in high school and from what we can gather
It didn’t end well. Scott seems oblivious to the hurt he’s caused her right up until the end when he finally apologises. But until then she spends the movie firing off one liners at Scott’s expense.

Personally it fits in with the whole hipster feel of the movie that the first evil ex and therefore the entire league of evil ex’s are introduced via email. And Scott deserves all the physical punishment he receives throughout the movie for skimming it.

The more eagle eyed viewer might spot early on that the jacket Scott is wearing had a big X patch on that it. This is one of many visual references to both the evil ex’s as well as the number of the ex will often appear as well then most obvious example being ex number three Todd (Brandon Routh) whose t-shirt has massive number three on it. If you look out you’ll see x’s and numbers all throughout. A good drinking game to play is to drink every time you spot one but I don’t recommend it as we don’t have insurance to cover broken livers.

Also interesting Scott is surrounded by the number zero, he’s wearing a shirt with it in the fight against Todd and he always drinks Coke Zero and it makes sense because the only reason I can see for anyone drinking that trash is for symbolism. The reason for the number is to suggest his potential for just being another evil ex.

Most of the visual elements in the story are just that, something for the audience to see and enjoy but it makes no real impact on the world presented in the movie. And with the exception of the super casual reference to the magical space which Ramona uses to travel the movie has been so far grounded in reality even if the movie is still a little quirky.

They officially depart from this during Scott and Ramonas first date when a visual gag becomes a real plot device. A door appears in the middle of nowhere and it’s made clear that it’s a real thing and they mention it directly and in fact use it to travel to Ramonas house.

Once at her house she offers Scott a cup of tea to warm him up after a harsh Canadian blizzard. I really liked this scene because Mary Elizabeth Winstead actually memorized all of the kinds of tea that her character lists. Some crew members kept offering for her to just read it from a piece of paper, but she insisted on learning it all.

While I’m talking about their dating I want to say that I just don’t see why they should end up together. It could be because I wanted Knives and Scott together but if I’m being honest Winstead does a really good job of showing disdain and boredom during the entire movie and that transfers to almost every interaction with Scott so it really looks like she isn’t interested in being with him at all. Their first kiss was just so anticlimactic to me…and Scott. That’s a joke you’ll get when you watch the movie.

Knives new haircut is just awful and I can only assume it was a ploy to make her less attractive so Ramona seems like the better choice. It’s just so disconcerting because she looks like an Asian Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction wannabe.

Scott is a man after my own heart. He just runs from his problems. Literally.

I mentioned earlier than Wallace (that’s the gay roommate and culkin’s brother) is great. His best scene by far is during the battle of the Bands when he’s heckling crash and the boys….and yes that girl is a boy too.

During the battle of the bands the movie finally starts to get going properly. In fact Matthew patel’s entrance as well as being awesome is another one of those moments that breaks reality. He literally flies in and prepares to kick some ass.

As I mentioned it’s at this point that things start to get going and where the game dynamic really kicks in. When Patel charges at Scott again Wallace screams fight loudly at him which directly references gaming culture in particular Games such as Tekken and Mortal Combat…which this fight turned out to be btw.

It’s a credit to the director and visual effects team that they managed to make Michael Cera look like he could handle himself in a fight. And as anyone who has seen Drillbit Taylor (which is the only other movie that comes to mind when looking for a Michael Cera fight scene) will tell you he certainly cannot.

These people do legitimately have superpowers. I mean even Scott whose presented as an ordinary person for the most part can take a group beating like it’s nothing and practically fly when the plot calls for it.

Also another gaming thing. Scott more than once destroys his enemies with a combo of punches.

Patel moves like a young Indian Michael Jackson. Congrats on that man. He is also by far my favourite ex. I’m not sure exactly why I liked him so much. Maybe because he has such a rad style. I also really liked his special power. Thumbs up for fireballs and the ability to summon Demon hipster chicks.

His fight was impressive as well and in my opinion was the second best fight scene in the movie edged out only slightly by the fight between Sex Bob-omb and the Katayanagi twins which was visually more impressive as well as being a little cooler. I will say though that out of all of the exes the twins are by far the most boring because the movie puts limits on how much they can flesh out secondary characters.

Now that we’ve reached the first of her evil exes I can say this. I like manic pixie dream girls with dyed hair as much as the next man but I just don’t see what everyone sees in ramona she’s attractive sure but not that interesting if you don’t count dying your hair as interesting.

The fight between Scott and Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) was good as well although probably the most mundane. Although he did punch Scott about twenty feet or so away right into a bloody castle…so yeah that’s pretty good. But what can you expect from a pretty good actor and a pretty good skater.

The highlight of it was the stunt doubles kicking Scott’s ass. My biggest problem was that Scott didn’t really win the fight he goaded Lucas Lee into doing some ridiculous stunt. I think they went this way with it mainly because suspension of disbelief isn’t enough to make me believe Michael Cera could take Chris Evans in a fight.

Also sidenote Lucas lee look like he’s in his mid to late thirties how old is Ramona if they went to school together?

Prior to the fight with the second ex (lee) Scott and Ramona have their second date and I really liked it because it was pretty regular. Hollywood is bad for raising the stakes for normal people a date is either spectacular or it’s bad. They pair have a pretty ordinary low-key thing and she still seems to like him. Still not sure why she does though come to think of it. It really felt like outside forces decided they were
Going to be together regardless of Scott’s actions and the complete lack of interest Ramona shows.

Speaking of their second date the voiceover regarding Scott’s last haircut (just prior to his last serious breakup) was one of the funniest bits in the movie and made great use of the quirky style for which the movie is noted.

The lady ex’s introduction was impressive although it annoyed me that she appeared out of order. It really upsets the whole level dynamic they have going on by having her appear at the wrong time. Also Ramona was bi curious that is about the most interesting thing about her to be honest and even that’s kinda meh. Also apparently all her exes are either just awesome fighters bordering on the superhuman or they legitimately have powers.

The bleeping scene with Audrey plaza was one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

So we’re approaching the third ex battle. Before that we get to spend a little time with The Clash at Demonhead (named after a classic Nintendo video game)

The scene with them singing Black Sheep by Metric is by far the best scene in the movie if only because of my own personal story about it. When I first met my fiancée I was talking about this scene and she sung this song, she knew exactly which one I meant and it was right there and then a few weeks into meeting I knew I loved her.

Okay back to the movie. After the gig Scott and the gang meet with the Demonhead in the green room which leads directly to another ex battle.

Yep. The bassist of The Clash at Demonhead and Envy Addams current boyfriend is none other than evil ex number three. We meet Todd who is a vegan. Don’t think he mentions it though.

Also apparently being a vegan gives you superpowers. This is another fight that Scott wouldn’t have won without some form of outside intervention. I mean this guy punched a hole in the moon.

The cleaning lady bit is also hilarious btw.

Also Scott finally uses his weapon…his axe…look I know he plays bass and an axe is a nickname for a guitar but work with me here. It’s less of a stretch than Michael Cera being an action hero.

So the next ex battle was fought between Ramona and roxy for the most part with Scott being used to deliver the final blow. It was a good fight scene slightly hampered by a little bit of overacting on Roxy’s part. Something I did enjoy was seeing Ramona use her weapon for the first time. And I mean it this time, she pulls out a giant hammer from her purse to aid in her fight against Roxy. The hammer seems like a reference to the same weapon carried by Sonic the Hedgehogs would be girlfriend Amy which ties into the whole gaming theme of the movie.

Roxy climaxed herself to death in an explosion of coins. Also her fight was good. The belt sword whip was badass and reminded me of yet another video game character.

Next up we continue the battle of the bands and the battle of the exes. It’s getting close to the finale so Scott faces the Katayanagi Twins at the same time. In an amp vs amp music boss battle. We finally get some band with out battle. And they’re not bad. They play one note and they raise the roof. Literally.

I mentioned earlier that the battle between Scott and the twins is probably the best in the movie but only because it’s the most cinematic of the fight scenes and out of all of the fights it’s by far the most reminiscent of the level of a game.

Scott claims an extra life in this scene which he puts to good use later in the movie. And I’m pretty proud that he took the advice that everyone was giving him and finally got a life…yeah a weak joke I know but sue me.

Unlike a few of the other fights in the movie I think Scott won this one fair and square. And Sex bob-omb did a good enough job to impress Gideon which I guess is something positive.

It’s impressive how much you can dislike Gideon instantly after meeting him. Good acting for sure.

So we’ve come to the final battle. Scott vs Gideon. I’ve been pretty careless so far about spoilers and I’ll take the opportunity to apologise for that now. But I don’t want to spoil the finale fight for those who haven’t seen it yet and for some reason chose this review specifically to find out about the movie.

As a bartender/waiter I don’t care how angry you are don’t knock anything from a server’s hand Scott you jerk. I hope you do get your ass kicked.

Up to this point Gideon has been evil and manipulative but in the finale he became downright racist. He called Knives and I quote ‘Kung Pow Chicken’ how on earth did that get past even a single edit. Screw you Gideon.

Scott’s a cheater. And an asshat but at least death provided him with some clarity.

And yes Gideon is right you can’t cheat death. Unless you have an extra life.

And another gaming reference. Scott gets to redo the level to see if he can do things better this time.

Also Gideon is mind controlling Ramona. That’s evil. Still not as bad as being a racist. Boo Gideon.

Knives and Scott pair up for the end battle and they work incredibly well together. But someone somewhere decided it should go another way and made the official ending where he ends up with Ramona instead and as a result it’s fair to say he really didn’t learn anything.

Finally something I’ve only touched only slightly before now because I wanted to cover it after talking about all the exes. I like that the enemies turn to coins after being defeated because it really ties in the whole arcade feel of the movie.

It’s weird that Nega Scott who is the supposed antithesis to Scott or to put it another way the exact opposite to him is described by Scott as a nice guy. Does that mean that Scott isn’t a nice guy?

Also they play off the fight between nega and real Scott they end up bonding and that is funny but in the graphic novels nega Scott was a huge story arc

I like that knives cares about Scott but I don’t like her validating him chasing Ramona. Also sorry to say this Scott but if Ted Mosby taught me anything it’s that just because you want a woman and you’ve chased her doesn’t mean you should be with her.

I like the door at the end. Perhaps I viewed it wrong but I feel them entering and closing it behind them is symbolic of them closing the door on the past and going off to a better future.

I do like the door at the end. They close it on the past and go off to a better future. I think I’ll give this movie a 9/10.


First Published on:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s