With the massive critical and commercial success of Baby Driver this year, I think it is safe to say that Edgar Wright has put the whole Ant-Man fiasco behind him, and with an artistic vigor that has the filmmaker, arguably, at the top of his game. While Wright has been one of the most consistent directors in modern filmmaking, right from his big screen debut with Shaun of the Dead onwards, there is one particular gem, both set and filmed in Toronto, which many overlook, but by all accounts should not be missed: the infinitely creative Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
One of the main reasons why this film has a tendency to be overlooked is due to its commercial failure, having only grossed roughly half its budget at the global box office. Another is that the film seems a little ‘out there’ for some people, but don’t be fooled; if you have even an iota of interest in video games and call-backs to the 8-bit era, with a strong, audacious story, then this is a film you just can’t miss.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Scott Pilgrim, played by a well-cast Michael Cera, is the bassist for a garage rock band named Sex Bob-Omb, whose life changes the moment he meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the girl he has literally been dreaming of. To be with Ramona, however, Scott must defeat each of her seven evil exes in fight scenes that flamboyantly mimic various aspects of video game boss battles.
All of this combines into a film that is an absolute blast to watch. And even when the stylish fight scenes and Wright’s trademark quick-fire wit are put aside, there is still a great resonance to the story and its characters. Characters of varied backgrounds, sexualities, and even diets are granted their moments in the spotlight in intriguing and humorous ways, instead of being relegated to the stock characters who do no more than advance the story in flat, disengaging ways.
I feel like there should be something of a disclaimer to go with all my praise though, as this is a niche film of the highest order by Wright, and so it is not to everyone’s tastes (which, again, contributed to its poor box office returns). Its cult status lies in its own loving expression for the video games of yore, and the stories that drove them, like Super Mario’s simple quest to save Princess Daisy, who must do battle with numerous enemies along the way. With this being said, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World deserves cult status, as it is still a commendably well-executed adaptation that is unafraid to boldly go where few films are willing, all the while paying great respect to its renowned source material.
So do yourself a favour if you haven’t seen this film. Play some old-school video games to get that nostalgia pumping, and then bask in the glory of what is Edgar Wright’s most eclectic achievement to date.