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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

November 7th, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World began its life is Scott Pilgrim, an independent comic back in 2004. This comic book, and the other volumes that followed, earned high praise and a number of awards. So when it was being turned into a movie, with Edgar Wright at the helm, there was a lot of excitement, especially online. However, as it has been shown in the past, online chatter doesn't translate into box office success, and the film struggled to find an audience during its theatrical run. Now that it is coming out on the home market, is it worth checking out? And has the studio given us a Blu-ray worth picking up, or are they cutting their losses.

The Movie

Michael Cera stars as the titular Scott Pilgrim, a 22-year old bass player and slacker. We learn at the beginning of the movie that he is dating a high-schooler, Knives Chau. This causes derision among some of his friends and bandmates, not to mention his sister. However, early in the movie he has a vision of a mysterious woman, Ramona Flowers, whom he then meets in real life. This strange coincidence causes him to instantly become obsessed with meeting her and eventually, he starts dating her.

This relationship becomes complicated for a couple reasons. Firstly, Scott forgets to mention to Knives that he's dating someone new. Secondly, Ramona has seven evil exes that Scott will have to fight and defeat in order to continue dating her.

In the meantime, Scott's band, Sex Bob-Omb, are trying to win a battle of the bands and earn a record contract and Scott's relationship problems are getting in the way. Fortunately, a lot of Ramona's exes are musicians, so he can multitask a lot.

And at this point we meet a wall of spoilers.

Edgar Wright has only made three movies, but all three of them are amazing. It helps that the material he has to work with is equally amazing. The story is a rather simple one. Boy meets girl, boy has to deal with girl's baggage, boy learns something about himself along the way. This film takes a pretty simple story of a romance that is off to a shaky start, and floods it with style and pop culture references. (And not just video games, but music references as well.) The most impressive thing about this, is he managed to corral both aspects and get them to work together. In the wrong hands, this movie would have been a mess.

That's not to say everyone will enjoy this movie, as a significant number of critics still claimed that the visuals were too much. The video game aesthetics with point totals popping up during the fights, for instance, might be a turn-off for those who have never been gamers. While the dialogue tends to feel less like what you would hear in real life and more like what you would expect a clever screenwriter to come up with. This film does have a great young cast to help sell these lines, and given the hyper-visual nature of the movie, the less-than-realistic dialogue actually fits in nicely.

Also, it gets bonus points for Mae Whitman playing an Ivy inspired character.

The Extras

I only have the Blu-ray to review, but it does come with the DVD. If we assume the extras on said DVD are the same as the ones on the stand-alone release, then it has four audio commentary tracks. Four. No, I didn't listen to all of them all the way through, but I did check out the first one and sampled the other three. The first is labeled the Feature and it has the director, screenwriter, and comic book creator (Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall, and Bryan Lee O'Malley respectively) while Edgar Wright is joined by the DP, Bill Pope, for a technical commentary. Both have an excellent mix of energy and information. There are also two cast commentary tracks, the first with the main cast and the second with mostly secondary characters. Since the second group is onscreen a lot less, they have fewer things to say. There is also a trivia track with information on the music, locations, etc. If you were to watch the film all the way through with each of these tracks, it would take about 11 hours.

There are also 27 minutes of deleted scenes, with an optional audio commentary with Edgar Wright; however, many of the more than 20 deleted scenes are alternate scenes, not really deleted scenes. There are also nine minutes of outtakes, including Michael Cera missing the garbage can with an over the shoulder throw more than 30 times. Rounding out the extras are a dozen photo galleries, including some production stills, storyboards, posters, and more.

Over on the Blu-ray, we find all of the above extras, plus a section called Documentaries, which has a two-part, 50-minute making of featurette. There is also a 16-minute featurette on the music, which makes sense to focus on, as music is a very important part of the film. And finally a 2-minute instructional featurette on how to play one of the songs. Alternative Footage has 12 more minutes of alternate scenes and 7 more minute of outtakes. Pre-Production has animatics, rehearsals, audition tapes, and much more. It runs nearly 90 minutes. Music Promos has four music videos and nine minutes of promos. Visual Effects has a featurettes on the special effects, plus a per-special effects shot of the Roxy fight, and a look at some of the raw hi-speed footage. Finally there is a six-minute featurette on the sound.

All of that is exclusive to the Blu-ray, but it doesn't push the technology. However, the Blu-ray does have some extras that do, including a U-Control Picture-in-Picture track with storyboards. There are also several BD-Live extras, including a free movie you can stream, which is not exactly Scott Pilgrim vs. The World related, but a cool feature nonetheless.

Moving onto the film's technical presentation... Given how visual the storytelling is, it should come as no shock that the video transfer is incredible, for the most part. There are some scenes that washed out in terms of color and detail, but I believe this is for artistic reasons and you can't blame the transfer for that. Sound is even better with excellent use of surround sound speakers, the fight scenes have many directional effects, and the bass will get a workout.

The Blu-ray does cost $8 more than the DVD, but since it comes with the DVD, it is like buying the DVD and getting the Blu-ray for $8. Hard to argue with that price.

The Verdict

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is Edgar Wright's biggest film to date, but while it mostly wowed critics, it wasn't able to find the theatrical audience it deserves. Hopefully that will change on the home market and the DVD is worth picking up. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is Pick of the Week material.

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