Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Blu-ray Review

The comic-con sensation is now on Blu-ray and although it may not have done great business at the box office, I predict that over time more audiences will discover this movie much like they did director Edgar Wright’s earlier movies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Also like those previous films, Scott Pilgrim is a hybrid of multiple genres as it blends a mix of comedy, action, music, and a whole lot of video-game conventions and graphics together to create something original and fun.  As Wright said,”“At one of the [test screening] focus groups somebody said, ‘It’s like a cross between Superbad, andKill Bill, and Tron,” he recalls, “and I thought, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that!”[1] 

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series of graphic novels but doesn’t follow the books exactly as the final volume hadn’t even been written while the movie was filming.  In both the books and the movie, Scott Pilgrim is a young man who drifts through life unfocused mainly because he has never recovered from being dumped when his former girlfriend Envy Adams (Brie Larson) hit the big time with her band Clash at Demonhead.  Scott is biding his time dating a seventeen year old girl named Knives Chou, but he isn’t very serious about her but enjoys her constant fawning over himself and his band Sex Bob-omb.  The band knows they need work but that changes once Scott means the woman of his dreams Romona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  Being around Romona brings Scott back to life which vastly energizes his music which starts a domino effect on the band who start rocking with new-found passion (with songs written by Beck). 
To win Ramona over though, Scott must deal with a lot of issues first including breaking up with Knives, and even more worrying dealing with Ramona’s seven exes that have formed an evil alliance determined to destroy Scott. At this point, the movie veers from a slacker romantic comedy into a live action video-game extravaganza.  I suspect this is where the movie loses a lot of the older audience members.  Think of it as a musical but instead of characters breaking out into song, they fight instead.  It’s almost a perfect blend of comic book and video-game sensibilities where each sound effect is telegraphed by a onscreen text and comic panel transitions and with a kinetic combat style straight from video-games.  Even the start of the movie harkens back to the glory days of Nintendo with the Universal logo and music being represented by some 8-bit graphics and cheesy midi music that sets the tone from the beginning.  Fans of video-games will hear plenty of music cues they might recall such as the Legend of Zelda theme and many references to Super Mario Brothers as well. 
This is a fun movie that showcases many good performances especially from the main cast.  Michael Cera does a great job with his customary likability used wisely but he also shows off a new side of him with his action scenes.  The movie never bothers to explain why suddenly Scott can do impossible things like fly or be basically invulnerable, but nevertheless Cera balances the humor and the action quite well.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead may have the toughest role in the movie as she has to be mysterious, aloof, and sexy while at the same time being likable enough for the audience to understand Scott’s obsession.   A lot of the exes are great too including Chris Evans as Lucas Lee and Brandon Routh as Todd Ingram.  It’s amusing to think that Scott Pilgrim had to fight both Superman and the upcoming Captain America to win Ramona’s love. 
While there were some aspects that I didn’t enjoy (the Seinfeld sitcom scene for one), I still appreciate the ambition of the movie and Edgar Wright’s efforts to cross a bunch of genres to make something original.   It’s almost inevitable that a movie that attempts to blend so many different things may not have all of them work, but this movie has ambition to spare and most of the time it works really well.  The visuals are striking especially during the fight sequences where in one of my favorite gags, the villains explode into coins when defeated.  I am really anxious to see what Edgar Wright does with Ant-Man for Marvel/Disney because after watching this movie, I think the possibilities are endless! 

Video  (4 out of 5 stars)

This movie has a fine picture but with some minor quibbles as some scenes look a little washed out but it’s hard to say if that was the filmmaker’s intent or not.  Colors are effervescent especially once the movie becomes a live action video-game and the black levels are handled well too.  Flesh tones remain consistent and well defined.  There is some detail loss in some scenes but overall this is a very nice picture. 

Audio (5 out of 5 stars)

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track really rocks the joint.  Whether it’s from the band play offs to the fighting, it sounds great.  The surround channels are used well and the sub-woofer pounds away with a pulsating energy.  The songs from the movie really benefit from this track and they sound fantastic.  This track really adds a lot to the viewing experience of  the Blu-ray. 

Special Features  (5 out of 5 stars)

The Blu-ray has a ton of cool special features to enjoy and one of the newest things I’ve seen is the chance to watch bonus movies (Pitch Black and Tremors) for a limited time on your smart phone or a streaming device.  That’s pretty cool but if you want to do that you better buy this quick because it ends in November. Check out all of the goodies…
    • Making of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
    • Music Featurette
    • You Too Can Be Sex Bob-Omb
  • ALTERNATE FOOTAGE: A special look at alternative edits to the film.
  • PRE-PRODUCTION: A look inside the film’s pre-production process including storyboards, pre-visualizations, animatics, motion capture tests, rehearsal footage, casting tapes, hair/make-up tests and more!
  • THE MUSIC OF SCOTT PILGIRM VS. THE WORLD: This feature includes four complete music videos and video remixes from legendary DJ Osymyso.
  • VISUAL EFFECTS: This feature takes a second look at the movie’s inventive visual effects.
  • SOUND WORK: A mini documentary about the creation of the film’s super-powered sonic landscape.
  • TRAILERS & TV SPOTS from the theatrical release of the film
  • ADULT SWIMScott Pilgrim vs. The Animation
  • BEHIND-THE-SCENES PRODUCTION BLOGS from the set of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by director /producer/ co-writer Edgar Wright.
  • FREE BONUS MOVIE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY: Blu-ray Combo Pack consumers will have instant access to stream action hits Tremors or Pitch Black via BD-Live, Smartphone or computer.
  • U-CONTROL: Universal’s exclusive signature feature allows viewers to delve into the making of the film with the click of the remote without ever leaving the movie.  
    • POCKET BLU™ app: USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU™ app uses iPhone®, iPod® touch, iPad™, Blackberry®, Nokia® Android™, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray™ player and offers advanced features such as:
    • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
    • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the movie.
    • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy exclusive content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
    • virtual Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray™ player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard that will facilitate such Blu-ray™ features as chatting with friends and sending messages.
  • DIGITAL COPY OF THE FILM: Blu-ray™ consumers can download a digital version of the movie to their Mac® and or Windows® PC for a limited time only.
  • BD-LIVE™: Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to watch the latest trailers and more.
  • MY SCENES: Bookmark your favorite scenes from the movie.
  • DELETED AND ALTERNATE SCENES with commentary from director/producer/ co-writer Edgar Wright
    • Feature Commentary with director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall and Author Bryan Lee O’Malley
    • Technical Commentary with director/producer/co-writer Edgar Wright and director of photography Bill Pope
    • Cast commentary with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong and Brandon Routh
    • Cast commentary with Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin and Mark Webber
  • BEHIND-THE-SCENES PHOTO GALLERIES including Edgar Wright’s photo blog
  • GALLERIES: Production photos, art galleries and marketing concepts.
Final Thoughts  (5 out of 5 stars)
I decided to give this a rating of 5 because I admire the ambition and execution of the movie in addition to the quality of this Blu-ray.  It’s a lot of fun and I bet it’s even more fun with a crowd.  If you haven’t seen this yet, I highly recommend it, although it may not be for everyone.  Hopefully, this film will now find it’s audience outside of the theaters much like the previous movies Wright directed. 
Order your copy today! 

[1] Entertainment Weekly, Clark Collis  

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