I just went to a second viewing of Scott Pilgrim and came back
with some new thoughts and nitpicks. MAJOR SPOILERS are ahead, so you
should only read further if you’ve seen the movie. And if you still
haven’t seen the movie, then I really need you to either get to your
nearest theater immediately or go find a pen.


Shocker of shockers, I still love the movie and all the praises I
heaped on it before still apply. I still maintain, for example, that
Jason Scwartzman’s interpretation of Gideon Graves was a simpler,
slimier and stronger character than his comic book counterpart. I also
stand by my remarks about how the Katayanagi twins were given short
shrift. It’s time, I think, to go into greater detail about the other
four exes.

  1. Matthew Patel is considerably stronger in the movie, though he may
    have been a little too strong. He’s the first boss, after all, and the
    first boss in any video game is a pushover.
  2. The movie’s Lucas Lee is so much better than the one in the graphic
    novel. In fact, the comic book Lee wasn’t really that bad a guy: He
    stopped fighting Scott to share baby carrots and Ritz with him, for
    God’s sake. Making the character into a total asshole was the obvious
    move to make and giving him stunt double minions was a great move.
  3. Todd Ingram is a touch hammier in the movie than he is in Volume 3,
    but that’s par for the course in this picture. Lynette Guycott is tossed
    completely by the wayside and Ingram’s character suffers a little for
    it, but I’d put the two interpretations as roughly equal to each other.
    On another note, the moment in which Scott slips Ingram the
    half-and-half was rather clumsily executed, but it was still miles
    better than the poorly-set-up deus ex machina of the comics. Also, that
    Thomas Jane cameo was awesome.
  4. Giving Roxie Richter a southern accent was an interesting choice,
    but I didn’t like how inconsistent the accent was. I’m also quite fond
    her belt weapon and I’m glad that her ninja motif was considerably
    played up. However, as awesome as her fight with Ramona and Scott was, I
    think it needed more subspace.

Subspace was a huge part of the book, appearing at least once in each
volume, but it’s almost entirely absent in the movie. Hell, the movie
went so far as to neglect mentioning that Ramona’s handbag was powered
by subspace and thus had unknown capacity. I personally feel that this
weakened the ending, as seeing Scott and Ramona walk into subspace might
have carried more heft if we had a better idea of what was behind that

But what if Scott and Ramona had taken the fight through a door as
they did in volume 4 and continued the fight in subspace? I don’t know
if that would have illuminated exactly what subspace is or how it works,
but I’m salivating at the thought of how awesome it would have been.

And now it’s time to address Brie Larson. So many of my
correspondents were insistent that I had Larson’s performance all wrong
that I had to see the film a second time just to get another look at
Envy Adams. While watching Larson a second time, I still thought that I
was perfectly justified in saying that she overacts in the role. This
time, however, it occurred to me how stupid it was to ding her for that,
considering all the scenery that Chris Evans was chewing just minutes
prior and Brandon Routh was chewing next to her.

That’s when it hit me: Was Brie Larson playing Envy Adams as an Evil
Ex? If that really is what she and Edgar Wright had in mind, then…

I’m frankly amazed that I hadn’t thought about the character in that
way before. The Exes were principally a metaphor for emotional baggage
and God knows that Envy falls under that heading. Moreover, Envy does
get a match against Ramona in the comic, which makes for a nice symmetry
against all of Scott’s fights against Ramona’s Evil Exes.

Unfortunately, movie-Envy’s status as an Ex is mitigated because she
doesn’t get nearly enough conflict with Ramona. The script does its best
to squeeze interaction between the two when it can, but there still
just isn’t enough. What’s more, I still think that Envy was far more
nuanced in the book and her arc had closure in Volume 6 that is
completely missing from the movie.

Envy wasn’t the only one, either. Despite the film’s best efforts to
the contrary, Kim Pine didn’t nearly get her due. Of all Scott’s
ex-girlfriends, Knives is the only one whose arc gets a really
satisfactory ending. This makes sense from a moviegoer’s point of view,
as Knives’ relationship with Scott is the only one we can see from start
to finish without resorting to flashbacks. Alas, as one who reads and
loves the source material, I know all about Scott’s relationship with
Kim and how important they are to each other. Again, Michael Bacall and
Edgar Wright clearly worked to illustrate the Scott/Kim history as best
they could and I applaud them for it. Nevertheless, when Knives kissed
Scott and gave her blessing to him and Ramona, I couldn’t help but think
“That should be Kim!”

Of course, the movie does give a noble try at compressing the
characters’ arcs while keeping the beginnings, middles and endings
intact. A lot of this comes from the wonderful way in which this movie
utilizes the “1-UP” plot point. I touched on this in my earlier
write-up, but it really does deserve further mention. The 1-UP in the
comic book was a way for Scott to continue the fight, but that’s really
not how extra lives work in most games (especially older games). Extra
lives have always been do-overs. When the player loses, the extra life
resets everything and sends the player back to an earlier point in the
game, now with knowledge of what’s ahead and how to beat it. Taking that
concept and applying it to the story of Scott Pilgrim was a truly
inspired move.

Speaking of the ending, as much as I loved the big climactic battle, I
can’t help but think that Ramona should have done more. She only gets a
double-cross appropriated from comic-Envy before Gideon knocks her out
and that just isn’t right. In the comics, Ramona was every bit as active
in the final fight as Scott was and that’s as it should be. Gideon
turned Ramona’s life into a living hell more than all the other Evil
Exes put together and she deserved the chance to make him pay for it. It
really should have been Knives that got knocked out and Ramona who
fought Gideon instead of the other way around. I wonder how the film
might have been different if this was how the final fight played out.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that pretty much every
complaint and nitpick I’ve listed here has some basis in comparison to
the source material. Surely, you’ll forgive me for making such
observations. Every adaptation has its own improvements and deficiencies
against its source material and nobody knows this better than lovers of
source material. If I say it myself, I wouldn’t be much of a Scott
Pilgrim fan if I didn’t notice these things after a couple of viewings.
At the same time, I’m not so much a Scott Pilgrim fanboy that I can’t
see how the movie works perfectly well — perhaps even better! —
entirely on its own merit.

Additionally, a lot of the above complaints would have interfered
greatly with pacing and taken up more screen time. I’ve no doubt that
the movie would have been damaged if I’d gotten my way, because the
film’s brief length and relentlessly fast pacing are two of the things
that I love about it.

For all my petty fan gripes, I still have absolutely no problem
loving this movie, mainly because — as with Watchmen — despite
all of the little things it got wrong, it got all of the big things
right. The comic book had heart and intelligence that are superbly
copied by Bacall and Wright. The characters are all perfectly cast and
wonderfully played. The visual effects, music and fight choreography are
all astounding.

Edgar Wright took the wonderful Scott Pilgrim comic books and made a
beautiful cinematic monster out of them. Go read the books. Go see this