Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Scott Pilgrim vs the World: Comic Book vs Film

Guest post by Scott Inkson

Scott Pilgrim vs the World was a comedy-hit in 2010 for director Edgar Wright; while it underperformed at the box-office, it became an instant cult-hit and entered many people's favourite film lists. Scott Pilgrim vs the World was an adaptation of Canadian writer Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim set of black’n’white digests about an early-twenties Canadian slacker, part-time musician who falls for an American delivery girl, Ramona Flowers. He finds she comes with baggage in the form of seven evil-exes - whom he must defeat. It is at heart your typical boy-meets-girl.

If it sounds bonkers, it is because it is joyously so. Reality is rather subjective, and if you are willing to buy into the premise and fantastical style of representation of the film – you are in for a rather good time. 

As there are six Scott Pilgrim books, (the last one finished alongside the adaptation), the film obviously can only service them through its own abridged version of them; and the overall A-story of Scott Pilgrim. Much like the other comedy-comicbook hit of the same year Kick-Ass (and several other multi-issue/book adaptations) it adapts the first part almost exactly before focusing on its own path rather than remaining overly faithful - specific, necessary scenes and story-points aside. 

The film itself is almost structured as if it was a musical, as it drives us towards these lavish, larger-than-life, fantastical set-pieces of expression - which of course bare no resemblance to reality but nevertheless service the kernel of truth inherent in the story. It is a testament to the level of detail and commitment to the Scott Pilgrim influence that there is a number motif in the film, informing us constantly what level we are at. That is level, as in video-game level, Scott’s main vice and by which he seemingly likes to filter reality through. It is a Canadian, filmic version of Spaced which makes Edgar Wright the perfect director for this out-there - but culturally relevant film - that acts as geek-bait to all us perpetual teens over-aware of popular culture.

I read the Scott Pilgrim books on the run-up to the film when a friend suggested to me they would be right up my street. I found that not only were they up my street but they were already in my house, sat in my bedroom and playing Legend of Zelda on my SNES. 

Scott Pilgrim is a rom-com for the iGeneration who grew up with 90’s video-game consoles and lo-fi music. It may seem like a sugar-rush that is style-over-substance to non-geeks or those no longer young-at-heart. However, those who understand that style can be substance (when done with express-purpose) are in for a metatextual meal of mirth as the interplay of styles is often quite witty or wonderfully expressed. It also contains more truth than people give it credit for - who hasn’t demonised a significant other's exes and quested to overtake them in significance in a loved ones life? In Scott Pilgrim he gets to do it in glorious expressive-and-metaphoric fights and contests before learning an important lesson in love and life in the end.

If computer games, stylised fighting, slacker-comedy, and a sweet centre is your thing – you will fall in lesbian with Scott Pilgrim vs the World – just be sure to read the books too.

Book(s) – Brilliant manga-inspired reads containing a lot of humour, charm and scatological pop-culture and video-game references - 5/5 

Film – Worthy and almost guilt-inspiring fun adaptation that has entered the favourites of many people of a certain persuasion or generation - 5/5

1 comment:

  1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is definitely bound to become a cult classic. With a setting so heavily immersed in style and gamer culture, it connects to thousands of young people who already play as characters with colorful garb and flashy actions. The movie and the book definitely have their differences, but O'Malley's meticulous production of the movie through colors and video game references made it a fantastic adaptation.

    In fact, it's already being shown at a local theater where I go to school in Tempe(ASU) through a series called "Cult Classics." The first showing sold out at another theater which is now unfortunately closed down. Free garlic bread was served to all who bought a ticket, and I felt a true sense of community. I'm trying to sustain this community with a new blog, Filmescent Phoenix. The fans behind these movies are sometimes more interesting than the characters themselves: