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Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Editor’s Note: This review was updated and edited on August 13, 2020.

There comes a time in every person’s life where he must fight for what he believes in. For Scott Pilgrim, this isn’t meant in the metaphorical sense, but rather, quite literally.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on a miniseries of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’ Malley. In the feature film, Scott (Michael Cera, showcasing a little bit more range here) is a slacker by day, slacker by night, only keeping busy when he’s playing bass in the band Sex Bob-Omb, or when he’s out with his 17-year-old Chinese girlfriend Knives (newcomer and adorable Ellen Wong).

Suddenly, Scott’s subconscious introduces him to Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who Scott later learns physically exists. He pursues her relentlessly and invites her to hear his band play. In the midst of it all, a mysterious man comes to attack Scott, and Scott later learns that if he and Ramona are to stay afloat relationship-wise, Scott must defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes.

My part of the review is looking at Scott Pilgrim the movie vs. the Scott Pilgrim books. What Edgar Wright has taken from six graphic novels — over 200 pages apiece — probably wasn’t easy, but Mr. Wright (ha) has done a solid job of shrinking down the series in an more than enjoyable, compact, two-hour film. He actually takes ideas right from O’ Malley’s series (title blocks for characters, sight gags, chapter breaks) and inserts them into the film, while adding sound effect text, panels and colorful imagery. If you were to ask me what movie is the most like a comic book in nature, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World takes the cake.

The film strays somewhat from the comics, but this, I feel, is more than fine. In fact, the liberties that Wright took with the characters, story and events in the movie all feel true to the vein of the Scott Pilgrim saga. This is a plus for fans, because we get to see something different, and it does not destroy the original intent of the books. For the record, Wright started filming near the end of the Scott Pilgrim book series, so the events (as explained by the crew in pre-production so that no one would get upset) would make sense that they would be different.

My biggest beef with the film — which I understood while watching it but still had a problem with — is that, with a two-hour runtime, Scott Pilgrim introduces a ton of interesting side characters and hints at characters’ stories surrounding what is going on, but never tackles them. In the books we got to see a lot of character development, something that the movie cannot do. I mean, like I said before, shoving those six novels into one feature film is going to be tough to do, and A LOT had to be cut. This is the only real gripe I had.

With that said, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a visual wonder and it is very sweet. It holds onto the ideals of the main story that O’ Malley introduced and ended (recently) to us, the fans, and the movie is a faithful adaptation that takes liberties that add to the Scott Pilgrim story.

When the film opened up with an 8- bit Universal logo, and ended two hours later, I was grinning and clapping, an audience member who just sat through a colorful, zany, action packed, visual treat that would made this fan more than pleased with the final product. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? Scott Pilgrim wins.

Well played, Edgar Wright.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is now streaming on Netflix.



  1. I agree with pretty much everything in this review. I felt a lot of the characters were very flat, but that can be attributed to the lack of character development that the books had. To anyone who enjoys the movie, I HIGHLY recommend reading the books. The books make every character much easier to relate to and as a result gives the books more emotion overall.

    The movie is a bare-bones adaptation, in my opinion, much like watching the more recent Harry Potter films. It skips over every side story and gives you just the main plot points. To be fair though, this was done in a much better way than the last two Potter films. Edgar Wright managed to give a just-the-basics adaptation that is not only very watchable, but highly enjoyable.

  2. My last comment just reminded me of one of my favorite jokes in the movie, when Comeau says, from the background as Scott walks past him, “You know, a lot of people think the comic books are better than the movie.”

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