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July 10, 2015

VGFlicks: Scott Pilgrim VS. The World (Part 5)

Scott Pilgrim VS The World review
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

In Part 4, Scott fought the Katayanagi twins, lost Ramona, then went and fought Gideon and lost. Well, that’s a common thing against final bosses… Oh, he died, too. Anyway, he had gained an extra life, so he’s now back, and he knows exactly what’s awaiting him at the Chaos Theater. Silly Gideon, Scott is too tough to die. Through the fire and the flames he’ll carry on!

Scott doesn’t waste any time with the guards, gets to the elevator, descends and winds up in the main room. This time, he makes a decent apology to Kim Pine for the failed relationship he had with her. Scott also tells Neil he's a better bassist for the band. Hey, Nordegraf, now's your time to shine! Scott then goes towards Gideon while citing many of the reasons the seventh ex sucks. He also takes that opportunity to mock the Chaos Theater, Gideon’s sound garden. Go, Scott! Stab him with all you got! A love sword, a kitchen knife, nine inch nails if that’s all you can find! Kick this guy so high he’ll see the curvature of the Earth!

So... self-respect is better than love? I don't see the logic there.
But this time, Scott isn’t fighting for Ramona… he’s fighting for himself! Once again, a sword appears in his chest, but this time it’s the Power of Self-Respect. What I love about this idea is that in the previous attempt, Scott was still treating Ramona as a thing to acquire, someone to save. This way, he was doing something similar to the evil exes, who were treating her more like a possession than an actual person. The power of love is good, but that’s not enough to carry a relationship, and that’s especially true if you don’t consider your loved one as your equal. However, the power of self-respect means that Scott is not letting the others, especially the evil exes, dictate his life, and he’ll fight for his own freedom to date the girl he loves. And no one should get in his way. This statement can be summed up as Scott Pilgrim Grows A Pair And Lets Nobody March On Him Anymore. It’s like Scott saying “Gideon, you’re not gonna pull me under, down to your level!”

Bam! How'd ya the taste of defeat?
Once again, Gideon summons his goons, but Scott defeats them even faster than the first time. When Gideon and he jump at each other, here it’s Gideon who’s sent falling down the stairs. Well, that was kind of an easy battle, wasn’t it? Scott gets 7000 points but Gideon doesn’t burst into coins. That’s when Knives shows up, and this time, Scott handles the situation much better by flat-out admitting his cheating on her with Ramona. That’s when the microchip at the back of Ramona’s head breaks off. Yay, she’s free again!

But of course, Gideon gets a second wind. Hey, he’s the last boss, of course he’s gonna have another form. Hilariously though, it’s implied that second form is triggered by the gum he’s chewing on. And this time, he has a huge amount of HP. A real metal health. Oh, and a pixel/laser katana. Now where have I seen those recently…

Oh, right… Man, that game was violent.

Provides a 7X multiplier to assholery.

Hey, careful, there are girls around here!
Holy crap, just look at Gideon handling that sword. It’s quite impressive. He’s pretty fly for a white guy! The battle transports itself towards the top of the pyramid, near Knives, and she decides to join in the battle to help Scott. Hm, perhaps that’s what was missing all this time: The power of friendship! Two cool heroes against a renegade of funk! Scott and Knives fare well against Gideon, but he hits like a wrecking ball. He ultimately overpowers them, sending Knives to hang on to the side of the pyramid and throwing Scott to the ground. Oh, and he also breaks the Power of Self-Respect sword. Damn. 

Good thing Scott and Knives played a lot of 2-Player games.

Convinced of his victory, Gideon goes back to Ramona, but his smugness doesn’t stay very long; She knees him in the balls. Shocked by this surprise attack, Gideon cannot react when Knives disarms him. Well, seems like Scott and Knives are back and ready to fight more! So, in retaliation, Gideon kicks Ramona down the stairs and keeps on kicking, with the announcer declaring “BAD!” each time. Gee, thanks Captain Obvious, we would have never guessed this was a bad thing to do…

A certain Gideon is now in deeeeep shit.

Gideon turns around to see a pissed Knives, and a very pissed Scott. What follows is a rapid-fire montage of the seventh ex getting his ass handed to him by them. Keep beating on the brat! The two end with a majestic finishing move that leads to Gideon being – at last! – defeated. In his final words, Gideon tries to lecture Scott, but it doesn’t catch on. He also reveals a rather… interesting thing about his plan: How did he gather the other six exes? By writing a post online.

Wait wait wait, let me get this straight. This guy gets dumped by his girlfriend, so he goes to the Internet, writes a lengthy blog post about her and how he thinks she’s the absolute worst; he also makes sure to include a lot of details and incites the readers to hate on the girl who dumped him. To his surprise, he finds some people with whom his words find resonance. And before he knows it, he has assembled a hate group whose entire purpose is to destroy a girl’s life.

...This guy is a monster, plain and simple. No joke here, he’s just a monster. Destroy him, Scott. Get him out of our heads!

My inner Joy burst with cheers at that exact moment.
...You know, an Inside Out reference...

And that he does, by kicking the guy in the head, officially defeating him. Gideon explodes into coins and Scott gets a majestic score gain of seven billion. With all the money that goes with it. Oh, did I mention that Sex Bob-Omb were there during the entire scene? Need I mention that Stephen Stills doesn’t waste any time and starts picking up the money that is raining down on all of them? Well, to be fair, they probably lost their deal, so I don’t think they’ll pass up a chance to sweep up a couple millions in change. The problems aren’t over, though, as a darker version of Scott shows up: Nega-Scott! Things could get ugly between those two, and it’s something Scott has to face himself. As a result, Ramona and Knives leave the Chaos Theater.

You have to learn to get along with the demonic-looking
clone representing all your past mistakes.
Moments later, Scott and Nega-Scott come out, speaking like old friends. This reflects the comic, where Nega-Scott was a lot more important and represented Scott’s inner darkness, which kept growing due to stress put on him by the whole situation with the evil exes. In the end, Nega-Scott wasn’t to be fought; Scott had to sheathe his sword and refuse to fight. He had to accept what he was, what he had become, his mistakes. That was his only chance to learn how to love and forget how to hate. He had to open his eyes and remember all of it, so that he could become a better person by not repeating those mistakes. As a result, he integrated Nega-Scott to himself. Here? The deleted scenes imply that Nega-Scott was supposed to make a few appearances before his scene, but like I said, those scenes were deleted, turning Nega-Scott into a quick joke at the end of the film, just to say "hey, we didn't forget to add that character!". Either way, this was the final opponent in the movie.

Time to shed a few tears?
Scott goes towards Ramona and Knives. Scott and Knives start talking, and Ramona silently walks away. Scott notices and asks why she’s leaving, so Ramona says she needs a new life. She needs to start over – again. Still, she thanks him for being the nicest guy she dated, and then she leaves towards a Subspace door that just appeared. Oh, but wait – Knives tells Scott to go get Ramona! …Huh? I suppose she’ll be fine with Young Neil. So Scott hurries towards Ramona, and decides to leave with her. They should be free to try their relationship again, now that Ramona’s past will stop haunting her. They’ll have plenty of time to travel thanks to Subspace. I suppose they’re gonna travel around the world; after all, if you can travel three miles in fifteen seconds, it shouldn’t take long to go all the way to Europe, right? Maybe they’re just gonna run like a rocket to Russia. Scott and Ramona leave through the Subspace door, as a final countdown ticks down to zero over them. The end.

Apparently yes, it's time to shed tears... of happiness.

To say that I like this movie and the comic book series would be a gigantic understatement. It’s got romance, video game references, comic book references, action scenes, slices of life, awesomeness, unabashed epicness, life lessons, and plenty more. Not to mention the intense fun geeks can feel when it comes to spotting all the references hidden in the film. No, seriously, the list is huge. If you’re in the mood to do some reading, the DVD even has a Trivia track putting nice little tidbits here and there. If the movie is not enough, you can also check out Scott Pilgrim VS. The Animation, a short that aired on Adult Swim when the movie came out. ...I posted it in Part 3, you can watch it there.

As is the ase with just about every other movie he's ever
directed, Edgar Wright puts an insame amount of attention
into all the details, even the smallest ones.
First off, the story follows the comics very closely. Sure, Edgar Wright had to cut a LOT of things, rearrange some lines and scenes so that they’d fit other characters. However, many scenes in the movie are made to look exactly like the corresponding panels in the comics. You could watch this movie and keep the books nearby, and compare the two versions. However, it’s important to note that the movie came out before the sixth and final book of the series was released, which is why the final act of the film is very different from the sixth book. Also, due to time constraints (this movie is already 112 minutes long!), they had to cut plenty of side-plots and details from the comics that could have been interesting, such as Subspace (which is vital to the plot), Stephen Stills turning gay in Book 4 (and dating Joseph, the guy who mixes the Sex Bob-Omb album) and coming out in Book 5, the whole Nega-Scott plot, the multiple fights between Scott and Todd Ingram from Book 3, the crazier aspects of Gideon Graves… when you watch the deleted scenes, you can recognize multiple moments from the comic books that were ultimately cut from the film. The deleted scenes also end with the original ending where Scott ends up dating Knives again. Apparently, test audiences didn’t like it all that much, and as a result we get the ending where Scott decides to go with Ramona. Honestly, I prefer the ending they went with, mostly because the entire point of the movie is Scott fighting for his freedom to date Ramona, and them not ending up together would make the whole adventure a very pointless one. But all in all, I like how the film’s plot turned out. Similar but different. It’s good. There’s a fine line to walk when doing a film adaptation, and I personally think Edgar Wright did it just right. Working on the script with Brian Lee O’Malley, the creator of the comics, was a good way to make sure this adaptation would be faithful.

They managed to make Michael Cera
look threatening. That's an
achievement all to itself.

Also, I just love the messages in this film: When you get into a relationship with someone else, you must accept that person's attitude and personality, but most of all, you must acknowledge his/her personal baggage, and live with it, as you can't change the past. It's not a common message in fiction. Another one I like is that breaking up shouldn't turn your ex into your enemy. Your ex doesn't (and shouldn't) become automatically "evil" or something because he/she's no longer your loved one. Also, have the decency to treat your loved one like a human being; I know such a lesson shouldn't have to be repeated, but there are enough awful human beings in the world that this statement is still needed. A last one from the movie: Accept your past, embrace it, acknowledge your mistakes and work towards becoming a better person. Sure, you can't change the past, but you can try for a better future. Yet another: For a relationship to work, you have to respect the other person, but you must also respect yourself. One message that isn't in the film is to refrain from putting all of the blame on the other for a failed relationship; don't fabricate your own recollection of the events so that you are right, and he or she was wrong, and you have no blame whatsoever. This is not a fight to be won, the mindset "Me VS. You" doesn't apply to a breakup.

Which brings me to an exception from those points: If you are in a clearly abusive relationship, your "loved one" beats you up, LEAVE. GET OUT. CALL THE POLICE. That has nothing to do with the Scott Pilgrim series, but I needed to make that part clear as a case where some of the preceding lessons don't apply.

The editing in this movie is fast-paced, and there are dozens of details you’ll miss on the first couple viewings. Hell, I must have watched this film 7 times to write this 5-part review and collect the pictures, and I kept on spotting new things. However, the editing isn’t sickening like it was in Gamer; that movie was nasty when it came to editing. Maybe the shaky-cam was to blame. Scott Pilgrim VS The World’s editing seemed to hit the nail on the head, in every scene. It knew when to go fast, when to go slow, when to be dramatic and what to emphasize in each shot.

Not to mention all the little moments that wouldn't have
been possible without some good editing­.

The movie’s soundtrack kicks ass. There’s nothing else to add to this. Whether it’s the music Beck created for Sex Bob-Omb, or the song Metric has created for The Clash At Demonhead, or everything else in-between, everything on this soundtrack is just great. Sure, Sex Bob-Omb won’t make the best song ever, but they’re still pretty good.

Personally, I had no problem with the casting of any of the characters in the film. Everyone looks like their comic counterpart (except maybe Brie Larson as Envy, but only one in such a large cast isn't bad). The exes look exactly like themselves in 2D form, the main cast looks just like the characters from the books. Sure, one could question Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, but as I said, Cera doesn’t annoy me too much. And Scott is still the black sheep of the band, so he still follows the character from the comics closely.

Now, common complaints I’ve heard about this movie:
-"There is too much gay!" …Well, tough. The original comic had even more, and it just adds to the uniqueness of it. Can you name another story where there’s about as many homosexual men and women? No? Thought so. There’s no discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Scott Pilgrim world. Perhaps you could learn from it.
-"There is too much going on in this movie, it’s too fast-paced! Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?" Well, they did try to condense six comic books into a single movie. It couldn’t be three hours long, either. Personally, I might have preferred if the Scott Pilgrim series was told through two movies. Imagine this: Books 1, 2 and 3 in the first movie, and books 4, 5 and 6 in the second. I wouldn’t cut that into a trilogy, though. Two movies would be perfect. Todd Ingram would be the perfect opponent to end the first film on. I still like what we got, but I wouldn’t have had a problem if the story had been cut into two films.
-Ramona is not worth fighting for, she’s too mean! And Scott is too much of a dick in the movie as well! To be fair, there’s a reason for that. You see, in the comics, the action is spread over about a year. By the start of the fourth book, it’s summer, the girls are in bikinis, and there’s not a single trace of snow. The movie starts in April and ends in April, a very snowy April I might add. All of the action in this movie takes place over as little as a month, maybe even two weeks. Imagine all that happening to Scott and Ramona in such a short timespan. You’d be nervous too. You’d become a jerk too. It’s just too much pressure, too much stress to take in two weeks. Okay, it’s maximum three weeks, but it’s at least two. Ramona says she changes her hair color every week and a half, and she changes twice over the course of the movie, so at least two weeks, at most four. Okay, I’m rambling again. Whatever. I’m just saying there’s a reason Scott and Ramona are bigger jerks in this version.

So, all in all, I think this is a solid movie. A nostalgia trip, too, with the numerous references to the pop culture of the 80s and 90s. So many references to the end of the century, the 20th century of course. If you're a gamer, you should like this movie. And if you like the movie, go read the books. They’re great. What else can I say? “An epic of epic epicness”, the tagline was right. Still, I’m kind of sad we didn’t get more of Nega-Scott. He has to face his inner demons, which is always such a great idea in a story… It would have been a wonderful moment to look into Scott’s psyche, a moment where he realizes everything he did that was wrong, every burst of anger…

…kinda like how I’ve been getting more and more vulgar on here… kinda like how I’ve become a very sad person since last year… I feel like I’ve shown my dark side… I don’t know if I can change anything… I’ve become such a terrible person…

(Next week: Super Paper Mario.)