Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

            Living by the adage that "less is more" has served the movies well for almost an entire century. The creative minds behind Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, on the other hand, completely abandoned the ideals of the past in exchange for a "more is more" approach. Boy, did it pay off. With an estimated budget of sixty-million dollars after tax incentives, Edgar Wright and crew utilized an amalgamation of CGI and special effects to expertly portray the Scott Pilgrim universe in a theatrical format (IMDb). Unlike numerous films that have enjoyed the fruits of new-age technology and squandered it, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World uses special effects techniques that completely encapsulate the feel of a great video game or a compelling graphic novel.

            One of the most interesting aspects about the idea of a Scott Pilgrim is the built in fan-base that it comes with. Prior to the conception of the screenplay, "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" was a successful graphic novel created entirely by artist and writer Bryan Lee O'Malley. Legions of "Pilgrimites" were foaming at the mouth to get their fix of Scott Pilgrim on the big screen and that only added more pressure on the big names associated with the film. To combat this anticipation, the world from the graphic novels had to be manifested in a convincing way.

            The more prevalent examples of this manifestation come from the unique use of CGI during production of the film. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was shot almost entirely in front a green screen. This allowed the designers to create extremely lush environments, darker shadows, and creative angles; much like people would have seen in O'Malley's graphic novels. A memorable scene from the film involves Scott engaging in his first "boss battle" against Matthew Patel. Seemingly from nowhere, Patel erupts onto the scene and confronts Scott Pilgrim. After a brief dialogue Matthew Patel begins to float while emitting fire from his finger tips as his "demon hipster chicks" come to his aid. In a flurry of devastation, the group of enemies begin throwing fireballs at Pilgrim -- incinerating passersby in an instant. Thinking quickly, Pilgrim retrieves a cymbal from a drumset and hurls it at Patel's face, stunning him for a moment. Pilgrim takes advantage of the situation by bursting in to the air and landing a vicious blow to Patel's forehead. The words "KO" flash across the screen as he is reduced to a pile of coins on the floor.

(Scott Pilgrim fighting Matthew Patel)

            As you can imagine, this scene could have been handled very poorly and distracted the viewer from the action on the screen. In this case, the special effects enhanced the experience and created a sense of anticipation as to what they would do next -- at least for me. There are few things more titillating than collecting your bounty after vanquishing a foe... That's what video games taught me anyway and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World tapped into a part of my brain that hadn't been triggered in over a decade of videogame-less despair. This ultimately made me appreciate the effects in the movie that much more as a drew an emotional connection with the contents of the film (Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz 31-40).

            It's difficult to find a scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that wasn't handled flawlessly, though a poor box-office showing would seem to indicate otherwise. The special effects and big name actors simply weren't enough to put extra butts in the seats... This prompts me to give the special effects in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World two defeated evil exes out of three. 

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