The lights are on
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As I settled into my seat at the theater last night at midnight, my expectations for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World were high. As a fan of the comics and a lifelong gamer, Edgar Wright had a lot of work to do in order to win me over. No movie has ever made me so happy to be a gamer, and few films transpose the source material to the big screen so faithfully. It’s simply the best video game movie ever made. Scott Pilgrim opens with the sound effect from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’s intro as the Triforce assembles. The crowd cheered at the familiar melody, and it set the tone for the rest of the film. Tons of gaming references made it from the book to the movie. Enemies explode in a shower of coins. Scott acquires a 1-up. Points are earned for defeating his girlfriend Ramona’s seven evil exes. Fights unravel like a perfect Street Fighter film. But what really got me were the sound effects that could never be communicated in the book. Chimes and chirps from Sonic the Hedgehog were like candy to my ears, and familiar sounds from Zelda punctuated pivotal scenes. Throw that on top of some of the soundtrack’s 8-bit sensibilities and you’ve got a gamer’s audio dream.After I got over the initial rush of excitement from experiencing quality, non-cheesy gaming references, I started paying attention to the characters I adore. Before entering the theater I was worried about Cera’s ability to portray Scott, a character simultaneously despicable and charming. At first it seemed like just another Michael Cera role, but as the film progressed I realized no one could have done it better. Cera’s large, expressive eyes convey the nuanced, shifty-eyed nature of Scott perfectly. His lines are delivered in the dry, aloof manner I imagined when reading Bryan Lee O’Malley’s books. It is a solid performance that should skyrocket Cera in the upper echelons of geek godliness.Everyone else making up the cast nailed their parts, too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead delivers the cool yet distant personality of Ramona Flowers. Kieran Culkin expertly assumes the role of Scott’s bluntly hilarious mentor and gay roommate, Wallace. Ellen Wong nails her part as Knives Chau, deftly evolving from Scott’s swooning underage girlfriend to a psychotic ex. Jason Schwartzman, Brandon Routh, and Chris Evans were the perfect casting choices for their respective roles as Ramona’s exes Gideon, Todd Ingram, and Chris Evans. A special nod to Mae Whitman as Roxy (one of my favorites from the book), who absolutely killed her role as an insecure ninja assassin. My only complaint regards Alison Pill as Kim Pine, who delivered the jaded drummer’s lines well enough, but didn’t quite look the part in my opinion, though I could just be sour that her character’s back story and role weren’t fleshed out.Scott Pilgrim is a fun, visually assaulting movie, even if you have only a cursory knowledge of video game culture. Each character, situation, song, and battle sequence has so much stylish flair and punch that the 112 minutes fly by. I was too busy marveling at characters being punched hundreds of yards into walls, telekinetic vegans using Super Sayan-like powers, and electricity rippling from instruments to ponder how this movie was made. For a book that’s drawn in black and white, you’ll be amazing by how colorful and pleasing to the eye this movie is. Not since Sin City have I seen a film that delivered all the pop, personality, and arresting visuals of its source material.This movie is a celebration of video games, geek culture, music, creative film-making, and of course, the Scott Pilgrim books. If you or anyone you know had a shred of gamer in you and loves a fun, hilarious film, don’t miss this one.
Also, Scott Pilgrim vs.the World is a game. A really, really good one. Read this review by fellow Scott Pilgrim fan and coworker, Bryan Vore.
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