Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Universal, 2010)

It earned some of the best reviews of the summer — and some of the most disappointing grosses. The Scott Pilgrim conundrum has been debated endlessly on film-site forums for months; rarely has a movie’s commercial failure sparked so much rage among its fans. Its epitaph is already written at the box office, but now that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has arrived on DVD and Blu-ray, the home audience has another chance to see what it missed. Is this a flop, or a cult classic in the making?

Synopsis: Game on! Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) just met the girl of his dreams…literally. But in order for them to date, he must defeat her seven evil exes — a rogues’ gallery, including an infamous skateboarder, a vegan rock star and fearsome identical twins! From the genre-smashing director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead comes “a true original” (Entertainment Weekly) powered up by wit, action and groundbreaking visuals that you will want to watch again as soon as it’s over!Video: Though cleverly scripted and well-acted, Scott Pilgrim‘s primary appeal is visual — director Edgar Wright treats Pilgrim’s quest like a lunatic dash through a hormone-addled video game, with 8-bit effects, random bursts of slo-mo and fast-forward, comic book action lines, and assorted Nintendo in-jokes, like the way enemies explode into showers of coins after they’re defeated. It’s a very FX-heavy film, but a lot of it is purposely lo-fi, and the end result is a weird hybrid — a nifty video treat that isn’t exactly theater demo material, but definitely the kind of thing you’ll want to watch on a big HD widescreen set. The Pilgrim Blu-ray transfer preserves the movie’s pixelated aesthetic while yielding a visibly hi-def experience, with clear contrast, rich colors (where warranted), and fine detail.

Audio: The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is just as innovative and hyperactive as the video, sending sound effects bouncing across the speakers as effortlessly as Scott and his rivals go shooting around the screen. It’s busy, but it makes sense within the context of the film — and it’s a lot of fun, particularly at a high volume.

Special Features: From start to finish, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was a film made for the fans, and that comes shining through in the plethora of extra content that Wright and Universal bundled in with this Blu-ray. The box promises “THE ULTIMATE SCOTT PILGRIM EXPERIENCE!” and it’s a promise kept. Here’s what you get:

  • 21 deleted scenes (with optional commentary tracks from Wright)
  • Bloopers
  • Four (four!) commentary tracks
  • A making-of documentary and three other behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Alternate footage
  • Nearly 90 minutes of pre-production footage
  • Visual effects reels
  • A (brief) look at the technical side of the sound effects
  • A Scott Pilgrim animated short from Adult Swim
  • Humorously edited bits that clip out profanity in the dialogue
  • A 45-minute director’s diary from Wright
  • Galleries of stills and photos taken by the cast
  • A pop-up trivia track
  • “U-Control” mode, offering picture-in-picture storyboards during the film
  • A DVD/digital copy disc

Bottom Line: If you’re not a gamer or a graphic novel junkie, you may watch Scott Pilgrim and wonder what all the raves were about — at bottom, it’s just another boy-meets-girl love story, only with bizarre helpings of other genres (sci-fi, action comedy) tossed in, and with the notable difference that the protagonist is essentially unlikable. That last bit actually works in Michael Cera’s favor, though — he’s been rightfully accused of playing the same damn part repeatedly, but here, he infuses what could have been a pretty blah part with layers of hipster boredom and contempt. This makes it hard to root for Scott, but it’s certainly more interesting than yet another shaggy, moon-eyed indie boy pining for his unattainable thrift-store sweetie, and it helps lend weight to the movie’s fizzy bursts of humor.

Really, though, Scott Pilgrim is just a lot of fun to watch. Thirtysomething viewers will chuckle at all the NES-derived visual cues, and while fans of the graphic novels might find the plot overly condensed, as a movie, Pilgrim zips along like a Mega Man boss battle after four cans of Mountain Dew. Is it the cinematic marvel the fanboys made it out to be? Maybe not. But is it one of the most effervescent, purely fun films of the year? Absolutely. If you love film, you need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

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About the Author

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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