The cult favourite, nerd sensation that bombed at the box office. And also the very definition of style over substance.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010) is based off the comic of the same name and is directed by Edgar Wright. It stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, a nerdy bassist who, in order to date his new crush Ramon Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), must defeat her league of seven evil exes in video-game style combat.
The first thing that strikes you as unique about Pilgrim (other than the bizarre plot) is the style of this little cult movie. Thanks to the genius of Edgar Wright, the comic has leapt from the pages to the screen with all the onomatopoeia ‘wooshes’ and exaggerated style happily intact. Everything from the stylish video-game inspired brawls to even just a band playing in a living room is imbued with Wright’s quirky sensibilities and clever influences. Cliché to say, but Pilgrim looks like a comic book. I adore Wright, and he was the perfect choice to capture the essence of the this strange tale. Honestly, the style of Pilgrim is unmatched.
But now to the substance. The cast is all perfect for their respective characters – Cera is typically awkward and shy, and plays off Winstead’s collection of quirks well. While Scott is an authentic and relatable character, Ramona isn’t particularly well written. She varies between being unlikeable and simply… meh. Not great considering the audience is supposed to be gunning for Scott to get with her. Instead they’re more likely to be baffled why he would want her at all.
While Wright has frequently turned out some incredible scripts (see the entire Cornetto trilogy), this ain’t one of them. Maybe he was restricted by the source material, but not only is Pilgrim not as funny as his other films, its nowhere near as intelligent. The script is repetitive, lacks well-defined stakes and just doesn’t hold up to the visuals. And the bloody ending! The entire movie is building towards this one final denouement when Scott is going to have an epiphany and mature and… it doesn’t happen. They reshot the ending, and hence screwed with the entire arch of the character. Baffling I say! Baffling.
In the end, it is still clear to see why so many people love Scott Pilgrim. The visuals and videogame influences make this a really unique, nerdy movie. That being said, Pilgrim also has a host of problems that stops it progressing to the next level. Anyone even slightly intrigued by the premise, comic roots or videogame visuals, you’ll like it. But in the end, Pilgrim is sort of like the launch of Battlefield 4. Super pretty, but has a lot of problems under the hood.
Cultist: Highly Recommended
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Meh