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Thread: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

  1. #1
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    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    Okay, I've been neglecting this film because it's facing off against The Expendables this weekend and I'm a big Jet Li fan. But I'm caving in because of this article.

    Kung Fu Graphic Novel Achievement Unlocked: The Scott Pilgrim Series
    By Janet Potter posted at 6:15 am on August 11, 2010 0

    We’ll skip the part where I talk about the graphic novel’s underappreciated place in contemporary literature/art. Firstly, because I haven’t read enough in the genre to be one of its ambassadors. Secondly, because I suspect the graphic novels’ marginalized niche is what allows their creators to be so inventive and unpredictable. Without the scrutiny that comes with critical acceptance, there are no established rules to follow. It’s like pirate fiction.

    coverBut even within this unruly genre, the Scott Pilgrim series is unique in its flexible relationship with convention, borrowing freely from anime, video games, movies, and pop culture. Created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the sixth and final volume was published earlier this month by Oni Press. The basics of the story are as follows: Scott Pilgrim is an unemployed, bass-playing 23-year-old from Toronto who meets Ramona Flowers, an American delivery girl, and they start dating. Soon after, Scott learns that he must defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes, who each come to kill him in turn, at the average pace of one per volume. Scott, we soon find, is a skilled fighter, and the fight sequences are elaborate, martial arts battles. His life also shares some of the traits of a video game. Whenever he defeats an evil ex, he earns gold coins, a la Mario Brothers, and on one occasion a mithril skateboard.

    When not fighting for his one true love, Scott leads a pretty normal life. He is in a band, Sex Bob-Omb, with his friend Stephen and his high school sweetheart Kim. He and his friend Wallace live together and, because Scott doesn’t have a paying job, they share a bed in their one-room apartment. Scott’s younger sister Stacey works at a coffee shop with Julie, who who is Stephen’s sometimes girlfriend. Scott’s ex-girlfriends, one of whom is now a famous pop singer, certainly don’t make themselves scarce. (Although none of them are as homicidal as Ramona’s exes. Scratch that, one of them is.) You see what I mean. It’s a group of friends, they’ve know each other a long time, and their relationships can get complicated. They’re a really likeable bunch – sarcastic, offbeat, underemployed, wearing clothes that even in line drawing look like they came from thrift stores. It’s as if all the oddball sidekicks, usually relegated to comic relief, are playing the main roles. They spend a lot of time at cheap food joints and unproductive band practices, where they bicker and banter and make fun of Scott.

    The gang’s dynamic – comfortable, static, routine – is a nice counterpoint to the drama of Scott’s relationship with Ramona, but after a while even that world turns out to be a lot more tricky than it seems. Scott is a sweet but often oblivious guy, and he learns little by little that his carelessness has hurt people. His friends and ex-girlfriends are loyal to him, but tend to roll their eyes at what an idiot he can be. It becomes clear that if he wants to have a stable, mature relationship with the girl of his dreams, he has to do a lot more than roundhouse kicks. Throughout the first five volumes, as Scott contends with one ex after another, he also has to contend with the emotional enormity of Ramona’s past, and his own.

    Ostensibly his quest is to fight his way through Ramona’s dating history so they can be together, but while he’s doing that, they’re also struggling to put themselves together as a couple. By the end of volume 5, Scott has turned 24, got a job, and moved in with Ramona, but their future is more tenuous than ever. At some point he starts wondering what kind of chick has seven evil exes. At this point, does Scott have the strength to defeat another ex? Has the enormity of his quest overwhelmed him, to the point that a simple victory isn’t possible? Do he and Ramona even stand a chance after all they’ve been through? It’s a bit like Harry Potter. It’s a bit like High Fidelity.

    And no, the fact that a handful of lazy twenty-something Canadians are skilled in martial arts is never acknowledged as a paradox. Scott Pilgrim wears its mythology lightly. The only time the volumes truly lag, especially volume 6, is when O’Malley tries to explain the overall premise – why Ramona’s exes are evil, why they want to kill Scott, why they’re so organized. For the most part, elaborate kung-fu fight sequences come to pass much like the musical numbers in Glee, as if they were natural and unremarkable. And even though they are the series’ signature, they are far from its strong point.

    What I like best about the series is how intuitive it feels. The characters and plotting haven’t been structured for narrative perfection. The fight sequences come at odd times, in some volumes they serve as the final climax and in others they happen offstage while we’re out on the balcony with other characters. O’Malley often begins scenes in the middle of a conversation and ends them as soon as it stops being interesting, with nothing but the words “SO YEAH” as a heading to segue into the next chapter. When the gang has a dinner party, we get the recipe. When they have band practice, we get chord charts. This air of the lackadaisical in his storytelling is most likely carefully crafted, but it’s very successful. The books are suspenseful, engaging, and heart-winning, while maintaining the feeling of a choppily edited reality show. That may be why, despite the fight scenes and the video game references and the hard-to-believe coincidences, the series is so relatable. It doesn’t feel like a writer’s description of 24-year-olds, it feels exactly like being 24.

    This is one aspect of the books that I’m worried the movie adaptation, which comes out August 13, won’t get right. With puppy-eyed Michael Cera as Scott, it would be so easy for the movie to become just another tale of an unconventionally attractive young guy trying to find love. The books never over-emphasize the fact that the characters are maturing and figuring out their relationships. If anything, they emphasize the fact that when you’re in your early twenties and all you do is eat burritos, you don’t realize that all that maturing is going on. Graphic novels don’t have the written word’s capacity to dwell on an idea. After a (kung fu) fight, or a (girlfriend) fight, or a concert, or a party, O’Malley can’t give us 20 pages inside Scott’s head while he walks home and thinks over what just happened. Maybe he can give a frame or two to an emotional close-up, but for the most part he has to move on to the next time people are moving or talking. Despite the fact that all the action comes from the desire for human connection, it avoids being contemplative.

    Because how great would it be, after all, if getting the girl was just like winning a video game? Difficult, yes. Dangerous, yes. But ultimately achievable, concrete. What Scott lacks in emotional intuition or sensitive courtship demeanor, he makes up for in his unblinking willingness to fight for Ramona. It’s the best thing about him. When, after some bashful falterings, he finally admits that he loves Ramona, he goes up a game level and pulls the Power of Love sword out of his chest. Only in Scott Pilgrim’s world, where you earn points for emotional milestones and you can break down the barriers between yourself and the love of your life with literal force, does this seem like a normal part of growing up. It’s such a great world.
    Brad Allen is the stunt coordinator for the film.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #2
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    The previews I have seen have been hilarious !
    Psalms 144:1
    Praise be my Lord my Rock,
    He trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle !

  3. #3
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    A 36 Chamber reference

    It's really Scott Pilgrim vs. the Expendables (and Julia Roberts )
    Great Scott!
    Interview with Scott Pilgrim director Edgar Wright and star Michael Cera
    By Norman Wilner

    Before I can even sit down to discuss Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World with Edgar Wright and Michael Cera, two things happen.

    First, Wright tags me as the critic who named his 2004 debut Shaun Of The Dead the best film of the last decade, and demands a high-five. Next, he notices the DVD of Humanoids From The Deep in my bag, which launches us on a conversation about skeevy Roger Corman monster movies.

    The interview rolls merrily onward from there. What’s supposed to be a 15-minute slot stretches to nearly half an hour, with Wright talking animatedly about his points of cinematic reference while Cera munches on nuts and a fruit plate, occasionally joining the conversation. Part of that is because Cera is naturally pretty reserved; part of it is because the entire Scott Pilgrim team is verging on exhaustion after a week-long North American press tour.

    “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” Wright says, ordering an espresso to match Cera’s cup of coffee. “I think when the press tour is finished, I will inevitably drop dead, which is what always happens whenever I finish a film. My immune system is gonna completely break down.”

    “That’s what happened to me when we wrapped,” Cera says.

    “It always happens,” Wright says. “When you stop, your body just gives up on you completely. But if you power along like this – I mean, I only finished the film three weeks ago.”

    Shaun and Wright’s second feature, Hot Fuzz, are pitch-perfect genre pieces; the former framing a moving coming-of-age story against a zombie apocalypse, the latter tackling the buddy-cop genre with self-awareness and quiet absurdism. (“The swan’s escaped.”) But Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – an adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series of six graphic novels, pitting Cera’s easily distracted rocker against the seven evil exes of new girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – gives Wright the chance to create an entirely new mode of storytelling out of the video games and action movies in which O’Malley’s characters are steeped.

    “The books are funny and magical and imaginative,” Wright says, “and it was perfectly acceptable to tap into that complete four-colour bubble-gum pop art explosion that’s in the books. The manga-like artwork is kind of unbridled; it can be just fun. And because this is a comedy, there wasn’t any real limit to anything. There’s an elastic reality to the film, like films that in their time were considered campy or bubble gum and are now kind of cult classics, whether it’s Danger: Diabolik or Flash Gordon. You’re allowed to have fun as well as be deadly serious.”

    The trick, Wright says, was figuring out how to explain that balance to his cast and crew.

    “We had frequent Shaw Brothers screenings,” Wright says. “The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin and Five Fingers Of Death…. I don’t think anybody could watch The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin and not want to become a Shaolin monk afterwards.”

    “That was a special one,” Cera says. “That’s the one where he’s carrying buckets, right? And the spikes?”

    “Yeah,” Wright says. “What an amazing, life-affirming film. But also things like A Chinese Ghost Story, and movies from the late 1980s.”


    The finished film may wear its references on its sleeve, but it’s very much its own thing. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World works a similar alchemy to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, and watching it is a little like sticking your head in a pop culture wind tunnel.

    “There are elements of romantic comedy, elements of action, music, video games,” Wright says, “all things that people are aware of but haven’t seen put together like this.”

    Preview audiences from Comic-Con to Toronto have loved it, though there’s been grousing in certain publications that this “epic of epic epicness” may be, well, too much of a muchness.

    “It might be overwhelming to some audience members,” Wright acknowledges, “but that’s good, isn’t it? It’s good to give people something to chew on, to make them sit up and participate. I feel like audiences are much smarter than studios usually give them credit for. TV is much faster and sharper than a lot of cinema. Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Simpsons – they don’t slow down for anybody, and they’re brilliant to watch. Why can’t we make films like that? Why can’t we make films that don’t talk down to people?”

    Scott Pilgrim offers another challenge in its presentation of a hero who’s fairly self-absorbed and prone to distraction.

    Cera laughs. “Yeah. I think that’s what makes me think of Homer Simpson the most,” he says, “that dead-eyed, glazed-over look.”

    “He needs constant shiny objects,” Wright says. “Scott Pilgrim to me, the way he pursues Ramona is like she’s a shiny object in a game.”

    But Scott’s not a bad person. He’s just not a grown-up yet.

    “I think Scott Pilgrim as a character has his flaws because he’s definitely, like, slightly solipsistic in that way,” Wright says. “He’s got blinkers on, and everybody around him becomes unimportant to the point where he breaks hearts and ruins lives and stuff. But I like this idea that the film is powered along by young, naive, blind optimism. Unlike some of the characters around him who are a bit more cynical, Scott Pilgrim hasn’t been worn down by the harsh realities of life yet.”

    Wright even found a way to visually convey the character’s youth.

    “In the books, you occasionally meet people’s parents,” he explains. “But we cut that out. Even for the extras and stuff we had a Logan’s Run-style bracket of nobody over 30. I wanted the whole city to feel like Scott Pilgrim’s playground – that he is the centre of his own universe and there are no adults. They’re not supervised any more. I think it’s about that time in your life – post-school or -college but before you’ve settled into whatever your vocation’s going to be – when you’re still in arrested development, no pun intended, in terms of this perpetual adolescence. When you’re not living with your parents any more, you can watch whatever you wanna watch, you can play games as much as you want to.…”

    “Sleep all day,” Cera adds.

    “Maybe you don’t have any disposable income, so you just tend to be in your little bubble,” Wright says. “It’s still playtime, you know?”

    Wright’s enjoying being back in Toronto for the first time in a while. (The day after our interview, my wife and I bump into him and co-star Anna Kendrick, who plays Scott’s sister Stacey, on Dundas West while walking our dog.) Asked to pick a favourite location, he barely hesitates.

    “There was something quite magical about being in Hillcrest Park,” Wright says, “because it’s such a beautiful part of the first book. I went there when I met Bryan in the city for the first time. [Co-writer] Michael Bacall, Bryan and I went around all the locations on a little tour. Just sitting in that park, talking about the film, and then two years later being there with Michael and Mary shooting that scene with fake snow everywhere, creating this Toronto winter garden wonderland, it was really beautiful.

    “Then these birds turned up at 4 in the morning and ruined everything.”

    “Oh my god, that’s right,” remembers Cera. “We had to have a bird whisperer and shoot cap guns into the sky to scare them off.”

    That wasn’t the only wildlife they had to cope with.

    “We did go to a restaurant where we saw a family of raccoons, and that was amazing,” laughs Wright. “It kinda looked like a Disney film for a second, but then you’re reminded that raccoons will **** you up.”

    “They’re wild,” Cera nods.

    “That’s a good note to end on,” Wright laughs. “’Raccoons can **** you up.’”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #4
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    man dont denie the power of julie roberts, she's a beast at the box office...i wonder why we never talked much about scott pilgrim considering all the wire fu involved and what not...unfortunately this film is released at a really bad time...you got stallone and his action film cluster f uck you got the mighty julia roberts...not to mention a hold over from last week the other guys and inception...yeesh, i predict this film will come in fifth place...and be a flop, cause the estimated budget for this was 60 mil.

  5. #5
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    It looks good! The commercial caught my eye and the action beats looked really fantastic. I'll be sure to catch it on video.
    To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
    -Patanjali Samadhi


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  6. #6
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    It's a cool flick for toronto peeps too because it's in all the background scenery!
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  7. #7
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    Score that one for Doug

    Nice call, Doug.
    From BoxOfficeMojo.com:
    1 The Expendables LGF $35,030,000 - 3,270 - $10,713 $35,030,000 - 1
    2 Eat Pray Love Sony $23,700,000 - 3,082 - $7,690 $23,700,000 $60 1
    3 The Other Guys Sony $18,000,000 -49.4% 3,651 - $4,930 $70,543,000 $100 2
    4 Inception WB $11,370,000 -38.6% 3,120 -298 $3,644 $248,554,000 $160 5
    5 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Uni. $10,525,000 - 2,818 - $3,735 $10,525,000 $60 1
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  8. #8
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    yea it flopped hard really hard...to bad it was poorly released it should have came out this week or the week before vs. the other guys would have fair much better.

  9. #9
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    My wife and I made it out without our son last night and saw Scott Pilgrim. She literally wasn't expecting it to be so awesome.

    Great fights, better wire-fu with special effects than The Last Airbender, with hilarious over the top video game presentation.

  10. #10
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    Scott Pilgrim vs The World

    Watched this over the weekend. I thought it was pretty funny.

    There are a couple weapons that are definately using chinese m a for the choreography. at one point the character ramona weilds a huge ass sledge hammer but she weilds it like a kwan dao. then another character uses double broadsword.

    but its a pretty funny movie IMO. corny in parts totally on purpose but its worth checking out if you dont mind that and are down for a laugh.
    For whoso comes amongst many shall one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all.

  11. #11
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    search fu...lol

    http://kungfumagazine.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58042

    oh and ofcourse there was a bunch of chinese kung fu references...brad allen did the choreography.

  12. #12
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    yearrrrggghh!!!

    For whoso comes amongst many shall one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all.

  13. #13
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    hated it

    I have issues with Cera. His whiny-ness just makes me want to punch him in the nose. The way the film tried to be so 'cool & hip' just made me want to punch him in the nose more.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  14. #14
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    wow!!

    shocker, hmmm...i think this movie is def for 80s-90s kids. cause alot of my friends and associates who were born in the 60s-70s era hated it. not all of them mind you but a good number.

  15. #15
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    Hey you kids! Get offa my wushu lawn!!

    Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe it's just that I can't stand Cera. After all these years, doug, you know me. Sometimes there are actors/actresses that just bug me.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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