Super strength, telepathy, and purple hair…for Anime fans and lovers of fighting games, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has it all. Directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera, the endearingly awkward George Michael in Arrested Development, Scott Pilgrim tells the tale of a young man who must defeat the League of Seven Exes in order to be with the girl of his dreams, Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
“Am I dreaming? I’ll leave you alone forever now,” says Scott when he first meets Ramona.
“Thanks,” she replies, but of course he cannot resist her bright purple hair, and he soon ends up asking her out on a date. Little does he know though, that his first date with Ramona will force him to fight for his life, when he has to battle Ramona’s deadly exes who all have superpowers-and one of those exes is a girl.
This movie is all about references. Each battle between Scott and an ex is reminiscent of famous games and comics. For example, in the second fight, Ramona’s ex-boyfriend Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) creates multiple versions of himself and combats Scott like the polygon group in Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers. And in the third fight, ex-boyfriend Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh) shows off his super powers with glowing eyes and white, wind-blown hair, similar to Storm from X-Men when she powers up.
There are also allusions to the Mario Brothers game (Scott collects coins after he kills an ex), and to other popular culture items, including Bollywood and Seinfeld.
One part video game, one part live action Anime, and one part graphic novel with a pinch of Kung-Fu movies and a dash of the vivid and colorful style seen in the 2008 movie Speed Racer, Scott Pilgrim is a highly enjoyable and humorous film that also manages to have a message: stay true to yourself. Michael Ceras’s character starts off awkward and rambling, much like George Michael, but throughout the film he learns more about himself, and he grows into a confident, honest young man with the courage to speak up about what he wants. And of course in between all that we are entertained with slow-mo, flashes of light, close-ups and quick pans, Zelda sound effects, and fighting words like “Pow” written in bold yellow letters in a freeze frame, similar to the 1960s television series Batman.
Targeted to a younger audience, all the actors in Scott Pilgrim look easily five to eight years younger than they actually are. Ellen Wong, who plays Scott’s 17-year-old ex-girlfriend Knives Chou, is actually 25. But in today’s world where shows like Gossip Girl depict the epitome of teen life, yet are played by actors in their 20s, the age of the actors in Scott Pilgrim is not that surprising. Still, unlike other teen-targeted media, Scott Pilgrim shows that although love is exciting and important, what matters even more is self-respect. And that is what makes this movie much more than merely a whimsical, comedic action movie, and what makes Scott Pilgrim such an engaging character.