Scott Pilgrim's moniker isn't without reason. The film is packed with pop culture references, mainly those having to do with videogames (in particular, the NES). However, only a handful of the references are obscure enough only viewers entrenched in the culture will get. If you remember anything about the NES, arcades or comic books, you're entrenched enough.
Besides, the film isn't really about these references. If anything, they're around as either visual flair or just to add some sort of metaphoric mood. At its heart, Scott Pilgrim is a love story. In fact, it is probably one of the truest, most true-to-life love stories captured on film.
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is an apathetic guy growing up in the wilds of Canada. He lives with his gay roommate, Wallace (Kieran Culkin), and is a member of a band called the Sex Bob-ombs with friends Kim (Alison Pill) and Stills (Mark Webber).
Scott's life gets a kick in the pants when Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) literally skates through his head. She's all he can think about, pushing him to stalker-like antics in order to win a date. She accepts and the two hit it off, despite Scott's awkwardness. The problem is Ramona has a past, which comes smashing through the doors at a Sex Bob-ombs concert. From that point on, if Scott wants to date Ramona, he needs to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes.
Scott Pilgrim works as a film because it hits multiple levels. On the surface, it's a hyper-kinetic action flick loaded with dazzling special effects. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) goes full tilt when meshing the real and not-so-real. Everything is so well-embedded in the world that nothing seems out of place, pushing simple suspension of disbelief into a new, stylish realm. Enemies explode into a shower of coins, vegans have psychic powers and evil exes are able to summon demon hipster chicks at will. The cool thing is, Wright completely embraces the insanity and goes all out.
On a deeper level, it is a great love story. Saying it is "one of the best" isn't hyperbole on my part; it's something I genuinely believe. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship will tell you it is never like in the movies. Everyone has baggage, and unless both parties are willing to work through it, there's no hope for the relationship. This is where Scott Pilgrim succeeds. The film is just as much Scott's story as it is Ramona's, which is refreshing.
Scott Pilgrim comes loaded with special features. I was already planning on adding the Blu-ray to my collection after my first (or three) times seeing it in the theater. However, the extras push it so over the top I'd swear someone at Universal was directly targeting me.
I'm a massive fan of both pre- and postproduction features, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Level Up! Collector's Edition delivers on both fronts. The amount of extras found in each section is insane (at least 1½ hours worth of material).
Most of the movie is viewable in storyboard form, which is a nice treat. Given the movie's comic book roots, most of the panels are straight rips from the graphic novel with a few flourishes tossed in such as Brie Larson's performance of Metric's "Black Sheep" and combat practice sessions. Animatics are further supplemented by short features showing additional pre-production footage, rehearsal videos, casting tapes, combat training and the various rigs used during fight scenes.
Postproduction is limited to "VFX Before and After," a 14-minute tour of the film's visual FX led by Frazier Churchill, the FX supervisor. As an VFX junkie, this section felt a little light. Churchill drops a lot of great info, but never went into the detail I would have liked considering how VFX-heavy the film is. However, it is a good place to look if you're interested in how the process works and how many elements go into a shot.
Visual FX are so important to the film, in fact, they seep into nearly every other production-focused extra. "Phantom Montage" shows some blue screen work while "Roxy Fight" shows the Roxy/ Ramona fight without any VFX applied. VFX work pops up in most of the deleted/ extended scenes as well. I liked the multiple cuts of certain scenes and accompanying commentary on how each cut altered the film's mood in tiny ways. Wright's commentary is great even if I disagree with cutting the "Nega Scott" scenes.
If those features aren't enough background info, there's also an extensive "Making of..." feature as well as multiple commentary tracks featuring nearly everyone in the cast. Feature commentary includes Edgar Wright, along with creator Bryan Lee O'Malley and co-writer Michael Bacall. Wright also appears in the Technical Commentary alongside director of photography Bill Pope.
Cast commentary is split into two entirely different sets. The first features Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Brandon Routh and Ellen Wong. The other features Kieran Culkin, Mark Webber, Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick.
Even if you're typically not one to listen to commentary, the Feature Commentary is worth checking out to hear O'Malley's input on both the film and what was going on while writing the books. The Technical Commentary focuses more on production, particularly camera angles. The first set of commentary is for fans, while the second set is for anyone who wants to make movies.
As if that wasn't enough extra content, the Blu-ray packs in a trivia game, galleries, a blooper reel, and the "TV Safe Version" - a random set of scenes with awkward edited dialogue (replacing all instances of the word "ass" with "owl"). It's okay, but I hope it is meant as a joke and not the real TV edits. There's also an animated short "Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation," which details Scott and Kim's relationship. This won't matter to anyone who's only seen the movie, but is great background info for fans of the novels.
Finally, there's a series of features dedicated to the film's awesome soundtrack (which, FYI, I've been rocking as I write this). The first, and most interesting, focuses on the original music written for the film, while "Soundworks" looks at the audio mix. There's also a look at how to play the song "Garbage Truck" and a set of promotional music videos as well as a few remixes.
Oh, did I also mention Edgar Wright's video production blogs and that you get both a DVD and Digital Copy of the movie?
Although Scott Pilgrim vs. The World may have fallen short of box office expectations, its heartening to know many great films have found a second life in the DVD/ Blu-ray market. Hopefully that's the case here. It may look like a "gamer movie," but don't let that fool you. Between the videogame references and flashy effects is a fun movie with a lot of heart.
ClipsScott Pilgrim the Comic Book
Cast Talk About Stunts
Musicians Talk About Getting Involved
Chaos Theater Scene
Bringing the Characters to Life
Learning To Play Instruments