Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs The World (the movie)

Do you like your movies to be visually appealing? If so, run don't walk to see Scott Pilgrim vs The World. it will leave your eye sockets smoldering and empty due to an overflow of enticing visual stimuli. I'm not kidding, this movie assumes you have ADD and splashes cool effect after cool effect on the screen in an attempt to be your visual Ritalin. Prepare yourself, get into the right frame of mind before you see this. Maybe I'm hyping it a bit much. Who cares? I love this movie and I don't care who knows it.

I watched this movie right before I broke down and started reading comics, so that probably factors into my review somewhere. I dunno, I'm the guy who can't listen to anything other than the original London cast singing Les Miserables because it's the first version I heard. Even though Colm Wilkinson is Jean Valjean in most of the other soundtracks, he doesn't sing the songs in the exact same way and my OCD mind can't take it. So there's that.

Spoiler Alert in effect, even though I have no idea what I'm going to write

Anyway, let's talk about the first way in which the movie totally nailed it as an adaptation of the graphic novel: casting. The importance of good casting in an adaptation cannot be overstated. There are a billion fanboys in the world that always try to make up fictitious casts for movie versions of whatever it is they love (Google it and see if I'm lying. I dare you). These attempts at casting are usually flawed and here's why: they put too much emphasis on whether or not the person looks like the role they'll play and not enough on whether or not they can actually play the role. Hollywood makes this mistake as well. How much better would the Get Smart remake have been if they had gotten actual actors for the roles of Agents 99 and 23 (you heard me, Anne Hathaway fans)? Anne Hathaway is no Barbara Feldon. Barbara Feldon played Agent 99 as both quirky and attractive. There's a certain "girl next door" charm to Barbara Feldon. The only person who comes to mind as a Barbara Feldon type is Amanda Bynes, but she's a little too young (Now I'm doing fake casting. Sheesh). Oh, and The Rock is a horrible actor outside of throwaway summer action flicks (actually, he's a horrible actor in those movies too, but it's more defensible because we don't expect Oscar caliber acting in action flicks. It's the reason Sylvester Stallone has had a career outside of Rocky) Anyway, I've spent waaaay too much time talking about how the casting for Get Smart was botched and not enough on why the casting for Scott Pilgrim was great. Let's take it down a paragraph, shall we?

So the casting for Scott Pilgrim was perfect. Not only did the actors in the movie look like the characters from the graphic novel (almost to a disturbing degree at times. Like Alison Pill as Kim. Even her facial expressions were the same in the movie as they were in the book. It's eerie) they act like the characters from the graphic novel. I am using bold too many times to emphasize words. Every single one of the actors carries their part well. There just isn't any dead weight in the cast. Michael Cera is a perfect Scott Pilgrim. You just can't do any better than Jason Schwatzman as Gideon. And where did they get the brilliant idea to dig up Kieran Culkin as Wallace? That was pretty inspired. Anyway, there is not dead weigh in this cast. It's one of the best casting jobs I've ever seen in any adaptation. It's Heath Ledger as The Joker good.

Casting aside, I believe I mentioned that this film is the visual equivalent of one of those oversized caramel apples with the nuts and the extra caramel dripping down the sides. Seriously, I have never seen a film that felt so much like a comic book. You have to see it to know what I mean, but this movie is riddled with effects lifted right from the pages of the graphic novel. It's really a wonder to behold. I felt the same way in watching this movie as I did the first time I saw O Brother, Where Art Thou (a movie I still love and hold quite dear). I found myself saying, "I can't believe someone thought of telling a story this way." It just felt fresh and exciting, which is what a good movie should be.

Then there's the issue of the music. Music played such a big role in the graphic novel. Not only are tabs and lyrics included in the book itself, Bryan Lee O'Malley includes playlists of songs he feels mesh with the characters and events portrayed in Scott Pilgrim. I have to say that despite hefty expectations, the movie doesn't miss a beat with the music. I do admit that Sex Bob-omb won't have me rushing out to buy the soundtrack to the movie, but it did make me want to dig up my old Tascam and bass guitars (I'm a bassist, which also influences my enjoyment of the movie). Oh, and the Clash at Demonhead song was actually quite good. Bonus points there.

Oh, and the ending to the graphic novel is much different than the ending of the movie even though they generally follow the same plot. It's a nice twist that makes you want to dive into both versions of Scott Pilgrim. I guess with all these words I've typed so far I'd better just buckle down and drop a grade on this thing. I give it...

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