quick review - Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Much surprise has been expressed at the box office failure of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, but the reason isn’t hard to grasp: Scott Pilgrim is a zip. Unambitious, inert, lacking in wit – there’s no one at home other than Michael Cena’s innate likeability that, so far, has led him down the typecasting path. Only readers of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel know how faithful the film version of the character is to the print incarnation. For the rest of us, we are given an uninspired hero with growing pangs that translate into a character not worth caring about. His treatment of Knives (Ellen Wong), a high school senior in love with him, is shabby and self-centered. And his crush on delivery girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the literal and figurative girl of his dreams? Unconvincing and shallow.

What rescues the film from the limbo of indifference is Edgar Wright’s daft, high-energy surrealism. The idea that Scott encounters Ramona because a subspace portal she uses to near-instantly cross large distances passes through his brain is worthy of Charlie Kaufman’s better moments. Better still, however, is how the idea of a video game is made literal as Scott battles Ramona’s seven evil exes for the right to date her. From defeated enemies collapsing into piles of coins to a variety of zany superpowers and game artifacts like power-ups, Wright doesn’t hold back from delivering quirky, compelling action and imagery. However, when the surface is all there is, the film, like lesser games, has no replay value.

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