Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scott Prilgrim Vs. The World

Directed by Edgar Wright

I went in to this movie with very high expectations - I felt like the bar was going to be high for this project from the start, and hearing lots of positive reviews and good word of mouth for the last week only heightened my anticipation, and I'm very happy to say that I was not disappointed.

This is exactly what a comics adaption should be.  The story remained faithful to the comics, while effectively condensing Bryan Lee O'Malley's sprawling plot, and preserving the unique aesthetic he crafted for the books.  The plot is familiar - Scott dates Knives; Scott meets Ramona; Scott dumps Knives; Scott has to fight Ramona's Seven Evil Exes, but there is enough difference to the film that it never becomes too predictable or boring for someone who has already read the story.

The cute visual tricks help make the movie stand out.  Sound effects appear on the screen, and the video game homages work better in the film than they did on paper.  There are some very cool CGI tricks, but they never overwhelm the story the way they do in most blockbuster movies.

The movie is cast perfectly.  Michael Cera does a great Scott, but I found that Mary Elizabeth Winstead was perfect as Ramona Flowers.  She managed the aloofness and indescribable cool of Ramona wonderfully.  The other supporting characters were chosen well, especially Alison Pill as Kim Pine, Johnny Simmons as Young Neil, and Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, the source of many of the best laughs in the movie.

One aspect of the film that I particularly loved was the way in which it portrayed Toronto as a magical, beautiful city.  The scenes in places like the steps to Casa Loma, or along the streets where everyone seemed to live (the Annex?) looked fantastic, and it's always cool to see places you've been hanging out all your life up on the screen.

Out of necessity, the movie does cut a number of scenes from the book, and so things felt a lot more rushed than I would have expected.  The quick succession of battles with evil exes didn't give Scott and Ramona much time to really bond, and so I missed seeing many of my favourite moments from the comics in the movies.  I also felt that Envy Adam's character arc was cut short, but I understand why that had to be the case.

Anthony Lane, writing in the New Yorker, suggested that the movie might be as 'vaporous' as the word 'love' that Knives exhales in Scott's direction, but I don't agree.  I expect that this movie will find a solid life for itself on DVD and Blu-Ray, as it is the type of movie that may have a small audience, but I imagine they will be a dedicated one.

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