Monday, August 16, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (may contain spoilers)

My daughters and I went to see Scott Pilgrim on Saturday. My girls are 11 and 16, and all three of us have read all six books of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series from Oni Press. All three of us have been anxiously waiting for the movie to come out since it was first announced, and rabidly waiting since the trailers started coming out. Within the first five minutes of the movie I turned to my oldest to let her know I already thought it was the greatest movie ever made. This was prior to the credits even being over. Even if that was mostly a statement for comic effect, all three of us loved it completely, and were drawn in from start to finish.

There are a lot of potential pitfalls with any movie based off of a beloved work from any medium. Scott Pilgrim was very smartly done. Things that could have been problems or weak-points were turned into strengths that made the movie distinct and different from the books, while still keeping major themes pretty faithfully, and allowing the books to not fully be spoiled and retain their unique and special separateness from the movie.

The movie has sequences that are almost panel for panel from the comics, but also has graphic enhancements, and entirely new gags and setups worked into it that make the movies into a sort of value added experience. On the other hand, they also cut the ever important to the books, Envy Adams character almost completely out. The movie sacrifice a lot of depth and meaning and real character development, and has a very compressed feel to it. It does this for the sake of remaining a pretty straightforward fast paced comedy with a reasonable run-time that never gives you any time to check your watch or get bored.

The movie feels complete, and left us pretty happy and satisfied with no complaints, but it leaves the books with some really great, powerful stuff all of its own that should be a great revelation for anyone drawn to the books from the movies. Book Six of the series absolutely floored me with its emotional significance. It remains pretty fully untouched and unsullied by any attempt to tack that sort of weight onto a movie that was designed to be fast and funny.

The movie is not superior to the books. The books are a must read for anyone that even smiled at any part of the trailers for the movie in my opinion, but the movie is one of the best movies ever that draws its inspiration from a comic property, and one of my absolute favorite movies of any type based on a single viewing.

I thought the casting was brilliant. There are a lot of people that don't like Michael Cera, and really hate the idea of him as Scott. I think what people imagine about Scott based on how he is drawn in the comics does not translate into the sort of person in real life that they think it would. I think anyone playing Scott more hyper or loud or heavy handed would become one of the jokes and weaken the over all feeling of the movie. Scott isn't really a loud snappy hyper guy, he is a fully self centered jerk that goes through life imposing on people and having little regard for others' feelings. He's not a bad guy, he just never developed out of that phase probably from middle school. The book portrays his growth one way, and the movie does it in a slightly different way.

I would like the movie to do well, but its financial success or 'failure' is of no great interest to me. What is of interest to me is that it was a brilliant movie I now adore, made out of an even more brilliant series of comics that I adore, by a director I think was pretty great, based on an artist who is pretty great, with a cast that is really great, etc. Shitty movie, financial success is not something I would wish on this. We can't make the mass audience suddenly have our taste and like things they aren't inclined too. I assume this will pick up in video, and is only just out of its first weekend. I hate when people write things off like that.

There have been a lot of really interesting and varied opinions that have been written about the movie already, and about the comic, etc. I may cover some of them at some point in depth, but until that time, I will leave you with two very insightful takes on the thing. Here is ComicsGirl's take on it, as well as Joe McCulloch's review. Both of them were helpful to me when trying to get my thoughts together and think of the big picture and different ways to think about it.

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