Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 12 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Amazing. Just the other day I was watching my favorite Charlie Chaplin movie, “Modern Times”, which was considered a technical leap forward (if you can believe it) for films. Conversely, I just finished watching “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and let me just say that movie-making has come a long, long way. Admittedly, I’d never heard of “Scott Pilgrim…” before it was made into a feature film, but it was inspired by a comic book as so many movies are these days. And yes it stars the ever-awkward Michael Cera doing what he does best. But the movie is about the most popular theme of all: love. Although it approaches the subject in a rather avant garde manner, for sure. Now I’m not one to judge a book by its cover (or in this case a Blu-ray) but, what’s not to like? A girl sporting a hot pink hairdo standing next to a guy with a pink flaming sword? Oh c’mon, this’ll be fun!

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is in a band. It’s not a really good band and its name is “Sex Bob Omb.” Yeah, really. He’s been broken up from his previous girlfriend for just about a year and is filling her spot platonically with Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). She’s 17 and he’s 22, so there’s a bit of a gap there. Scott lives in a one bedroom place with his roommate (Kieran Culkin) who has the nasty habit of texting all of Scott’s secrets to his sister (Anna Kendrick). Everything is fine and good until Scott catches a glimpse of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and his world is utterly changed. Scott pursues her and the two start to hang out. The thing is that in order to “have” Ramona, she comes with a bit of baggage. Scott must fight her seven ex-boyfriends to death and if he succeeds, she’s his. This was detailed in an email to Scott which he casually dismissed. Will this skinny Canadian manage to beat seven of Ramona’s ex-beaus or will they get the best of him?

Admittedly “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is a pretty unique concept for a movie and as it’s directed by Edgar Wright who also directed cult classics “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” Granted the aforementioned two titles did star one Simon Pegg, and he’s absent here, but I think Wright has crafted something that’s certainly…memorable to say the very least. I, for one, enjoyed the movie though I think I’m at the upper echelon in regards to age that could really “stomach” it. I can’t see my (or anyone’s) parents sitting down and enjoying it with their children. Despite the somewhat black nature of the movie, it’s relatively free of any bad language or unnecessary violence. Imagine that? “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” will no doubt go onto a cult status even more so than some of Michael Cera’s other films and it’s intriguing enough that I might actually pick up the comic book and see what I missed. Recommended.

Video: How does it look?

There are only a handful of live-action movies that are visually aggressive as “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” Off hand, “Speed Racer” comes to mind but nothing else at the moment. Playing more like a comic book combined with a video game, the movie seems to literally come alive at several moments. We see words come out of the actors’ mouths, we get the “Batman’ish” sound effects and are treated to a slew of visual effects that can only be described as surreal. That said, Universal’s 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer is noticeably sharp and clear, though a few of the interior shots do suffer from a bit of grain. Then again this movie is so out there in terms of what’s happening on screen, it’s hard to say what’s really meant to show up and what’s just…there. Towards the end of the movie we get some black bars on the screen, giving the film a 2.40:1 look though I don’t think the aspect ratio ever changed, they just added black bars on top for a given effect. Flesh tones appear to be normal, though the movie takes place in Toronto, so everyone’s skin is pasty white. Detail is fine as well, we see every hot pink strand of hair. On the whole, this is a fairly strong transfer and though it suffers a little, I doubt it’ll be much of an issue to anyone. I want to avoid the obvious cliché but just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Audio: How does it sound?

What really took me by surprise was the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. I mean, yeah, the movie does deal with people in bands but I really didn’t expect such a range in sound from this movie. Very rarely do I have to actually turn the volume down, but I did during the opening credits. Dialogue is very clear and crisp as we might expect, but what really took center stage was the LFE. The room actually shook during a few sequences and, considering the subject matter, it does make sense that the soundtrack is like this. The movie plays more like a video game, so we’re treated to an array of sound effects that help illustrate the mood of each scene (fight). This is one of the most robust soundtracks I’ve heard and suffice it to say that you’ll get your money’s worth.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Universal isn’t pulling any punches in regards to the supplements. First off, this is a three disc set that contains a Blu-ray, a standard DVD and a Digital Copy as well. Starting off with the Blu-ray we find no less than four commentary tracks. I’ll be dead honest here, I didn’t listen to all four but rather sampled bits and pieces from the quartet. First up is a feature commentary with the author of the comic book, the director of the film and listening to the two watch the film is pretty interesting. Next up is a technical commentary which interested me the most. Naturally this movie is very technical in nature and we get some insight into some of the details that made the film work. But wait, there’s more! We then get two cast commentaries. The first track features Michael Cera, Jason Schartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Brandon Routh. Cera headlines this track and though it gets a bit chatty at times, it’s fairly interesting. The second track has actors Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin, and Mark Webber. Admittedly I listened to this one the least, though part of me wonders why they didn’t just combine the two tracks into one?

Moving on we have a trivia track in which we get some pop up facts and we get some references to the video game and comic book references. We also get a bit of insight into some of the 8-bit graphics that were used in the film (including an 8-bit Universal logo). This is interesting, especially if you’re into comic books and video games (and I’m assuming anyone who saw this is). We get some deleted scenes, 21 in all which can be played individually or all at once. There are some outtakes, a very robust photo gallery and we see actor Mark Webber as he learns how to play the guitar for his role.

Are we done? Nope, we’re just getting warmed up.

This Blu-ray has plenty of exclusive features and it makes me wonder why they even bother to sell the standard DVD since its included in this package. As we might expect, this disc is BD-Live enhanced and you get to stream a free Universal movie (“Tremors” or “Pitch Black”). There’s a rather good “Making of…” the film clocking in at just under an hour as we get some insight from Edgar Wright about how the movie came to fruition and how he came to be involved. You can also watch the film with a picture-in-picture of the storyboards of the film, which is pretty interesting seeing the rough sketches on the screen and then seeing the final product as well. We get a “Pre-Production” segment that has six separate featurettes ranging from some opening footage to rehearsal videos to hair and makeup footage. This runs nearly as long as the movie itself and is all encompassing when it comes to how thorough it is. More interesting is the “VFX Before and After” in which we see how some of the visual effects were done (the anime style of fighting, the snow melting and so forth). Along the same lines is “Roxy Fight/Ribbon Version” we see a before and after visual effects. We get some samples of some sound from the film, a montage of some slow motion footage showing the actors doing their stunts against a screen. We also get a sampling of the blogs associated with the film, some trailers, even more alternate scenes and a feature looking at the music of the film as well. And, as we might expect, we get four music videos from the film. Suffice it to say that your money won’t go to waste here and if you’ve got the better part of a day to digest these supplements, you’ll likely go insane.

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