By Adam Donato
The Cornetto Trilogy, affectionately titled, is the baby of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. After making Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Wright went on to make an adaptation of the popular graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The film’s lead is Michael Cera, star of comedies such as Superbad and Arrested Development, and is supported by what is now an all-star lineup. After completely bombing at the box office despite its critical acclaim, the film has persisted in the hearts of fans as a cult classic to be remembered.
Edgar Wright can’t make a bad movie. There are arguments to be made, but all five of Wright’s directorial features are great in their own way. Ranking them has to come down to a personal preference of genre as each installment in his filmography is near flawless. Go ahead, say this is over-hyping Wright and his movies. Jordan Peele makes two great movies and he is the next Hitchcock. Shyamalan was heralded the next Spielberg after three great movies. Wright is at five great movies and only Baby Driver grossed over $100 million. What’s the problem? He’s worked with notable stars and received plenty of critical praise. None of his movies is more criminally underappreciated as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
How good is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? 2010 was a big year for movies and Scott Pilgrim belongs up there with the greats: Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and The King’s Speech. If that is your top five for the year, you’re not wrong. There aren’t many movies quite like Scott Pilgrim. It feels like a video game movie had a baby with a comic book movie. The action is over the top and usually borrows the look of a combat video game. The comedy is fast paced and utilizes on-screen speech/thought bubbles to get inside the head of Scott Pilgrim. Obviously the film is an adaptation of a comic, and therefore not classified as a video game movie. This means that Scott Pilgrim is in the same club as Wreck-It Ralph, the best video game movies not based on a video game. Utilizing the strengths of a genre with untapped potential? Well played, Wright.
Writing a piece detailing the outstanding quality of Scott Pilgrim is complicated. To the active film fan, this is a film that is regularly heralded as underrated due to the low initial audience viewership. If you love movies, you know how good Scott Pilgrim is. The problem is that there are too many people who have never even heard of it. So yes, here is another declaration of love for Scott Pilgrim. Maybe one day the rest of the world will join us.
Arguably, the best part of the movie, besides Wright’s stylized fight scenes and quick-cut comedy, is the characters and the cast who embodies them. Back when this movie was being cast, a lot of these actors hadn’t become household names yet. Honestly, the only actor not to peak after this movie was Brandon Routh (Superman Returns was not his fault!). Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Evans all dominate in this movie and most of them went on to be superheroes. Other established talents like Alison Pill, Jason Schwartzman, and Kieran Culkin all stand out in a movie full of memorable names. Everyone has a distinct style and personality. All of the seven evil exes are unique in their fighting styles. Even the names that are not known still kill it with Mark Webber, Ellen Wong, and Johnny Simmons making their mark.
Let’s talk about the love triangle. Scott starts out the movie with Knives who is, in fact a high-schooler (which is weird). So when he ends up with Ramona, it is a relief. That being said, the alternate ending where Scott ends up with Knives over Ramona doesn’t seem wrong. That way, the film would start and end in the same place, except Scott is now proud of his earned relationship. He loses Ramona who he should lose due to his overt jerkiness. Then again he cheated on Knives more than he cheated on Ramona. Honestly, Scott shouldn’t end up with anyone. He earned the power of self-respect, but there are consequences to playing games with the feelings of the people you hold closest. That’s the closest thing to a flaw in this movie. Of course, Scott is a human being and him getting a second chance with the girl of his dreams isn’t completely wrong.
Michael Cera is perfect for this movie. His soft-spokenness and general “Charlie Brown energy” make his portrayal of the title character generally likable. Apparently Cera already knew how to play the bass guitar and is very good, which is impressive. Also, the fact that someone who looks like Michael Cera can lead an action movie full of fistfights featuring himself is quite impressive. It’s sad to say, but it’s arguable that Cera just isn’t a marketable name in Hollywood. Maybe Jonah Hill is what really sold Superbad. A decade later, what has Cera starred in since? Not much. It’s a shame.
The best thing about this movie, it’s good to see Edgar Wright can thrive all on his own. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is fast-paced and fun. The jokes are funny and memorable. The action stands out in a day and age full of big-budget, CGI action sequences. The romance is easily bought as the viewer is whisked away through open doors to the song “Ramona”. Scott's arc is poignant and does a good job of standing out in what is primarily a love story. How can you support someone else if you can’t support yourself? His reward for discovering self-respect, he gets the girl he fought seven evil exes and himself for. If you love this movie, buy it on DVD again to show support. If you haven't seen this movie, please, do yourself a favor: it's the best video game movie that's not a video game movie. Sorry, Ralph, but at least you got a sequel...
The Snake Hole
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