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Pilgrim's Progress

Friday 8 November 2013, 10:27

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

I’ve programmed Scott Pilgrim Versus The World at the Cinemagic festival in Belfast this month. It was a flop on release but now I can’t find anyone who will admit to not liking it.

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Scott Pilgrim vs The World

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    I have not commented before, but I am compelled by this blog to throw my hat in and declare how much I hated Scott Pilgrim.

    I went in wanting to love it, having been a fan of Edgar Wright and the cast's previous work and also being a fan of coming-of-age romances as well as left-field independent comedies. However... I found the film to be ugly, obnoxious, smug, humourless, annoying and empty from the unnecessarily in-your-face opening credits. I failed to engage with the central relationship between Scott and Ramona as she came across and cold, aloof, manipulative and empty. With such a lack of charisma and personality, how am I supposed to buy that these ex-boyfriends and Scott would fight to the death for her?

    I'm sorry Dr. Kermode but I believe this film got exactly what it deserved upon it's release, and I am more surprised that it has achieved any kind of cult status at all.

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    Comment number 2.

    I adore SPVTW. One thing I like about it as how the film production started before the comic series had concluded, so the stories start to diverge about halfway through (Volume 3 ish I think), where Edgar Wright did his take on what would happen.

    I do have some issues with Michael Cera playing Scott, as in my eyes he isn't the same Scott portrayed in the comics, but it hasn't affected the way I look upon the film one of my favourites that stands up to constant re-watching due to the sheer number of pop culture references and self-referential in-jokes it contains.

    I remember seeing it on opening weekend, not knowing a lot about what I was about to watch, in a completely empty screen at the Eastleigh Vue. I wonder whether it could have been a failure in the advertising that people just didn't notice it… I'm not sure. I loved it though!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    I thought it was OK but a bit over rated, it's one I must revisit at some point now the hype has died and I might enjoy it more. Was a bit of the same for Kick- Ass.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 4.

    I loved Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I normally hate teen fics, and quirky fantastic films, but this film because the characters, the humour and the ridiculous scenario charmed me over. I personally think the film flopped because it was unexpected. People went in expecting a quirky teen film and instead got an enjoyable romp of spectacular proportions.

    Also I hate it when it is compared to Howard the Duck. That film is simply awful.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    I don't much care for Scott Pilgrim. It's technically proficient, but it all feels a bit too clever for its own good, and consequently lacks real heart. It does have a good Flash Gordon joke though.

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    Comment number 6.

    It struck me as one of those films that tried, with the best intentions, to be different and fresh. It started OK, but became tedious very quickly, not unlike Japanese TV. There have been other near misses which have tried formats outside the mainstream - Mystery Men, Buckaroo Banzai to name two - which for one reason or another lacked something that would have escalated them to being a hit rather than a poular curiosity.

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    Comment number 7.

    Now while I love Scott Pilgrim to pieces, my sister doesn't! I tried explaining to her for ages why it's so brilliant, but she basically dismisses it a stupid, juvenile and not funny. How? What is there not to love about it? As for its box-office failure: well that's just one of the biggest mysteries of the universe!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    I was about to write a long comment but then Jo Fitz-Gerald took the words right out of my mouth... Can you read my mind???

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    This just illustrates why comedy is so subjective. 'Scott Pilgrim' has a very insular sense of humour, which is lost on large sections of the audience, plus everything is turned up to eleven and after awhile it becomes a blitzkrieg battering you into submission, as if the audience has to laugh at every single joke. I tried re-watching it a few weeks back on Channel 4, but it quickly became repetitive and wore me down and i soon switched off. For me comedy works best when it appears completely effortless, like it's not even trying to be funny, consequently 'Alan Partridge: Alpha papa' is a better film than The World's End and The Rutles is one the great comedy films of all time.

    Howard the Duck on the other hand, whilst by no means a great film, is just terrific fun and left me with a huge smile on my face. I think one reason why it never found an audience is because at the time every critic dubbed it "Howard the Turkey" (oh be still my aching sides) well to them i say
    "up yours" Kermode's right, you're wrong deal with it.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    I have very mixed feelings about Scott Pilgrim. It might be unfair but much of it comes from being a fan of the comic book.

    I did enjoy the film and I do think there's a lot commendable about it but in the end the whole thing came off as very superficial while in the book there was a deeper more sentimental feeling in which you feel you really get to know the characters. I know not everything can pass from page to film and I know that the comic and the film are two separate things to be judged individually but for me that sentimental drama was what was the core of the Scott Pilgrim books. That dynamic I think is very similar to Spaced which makes me think that maybe it shouldn't have been a film but instead a TV series.

    You Mark have compared the film to Howard the Duck but for me it's more like Watchmen or Fritz the Cat in which the shell of the lesser known source material has been very well emulated but the heart of the piece hasn't quite made it intact. Now, I think it's a much better film than Watchmen, Fritz the Cat or Howard the Duck and I do think unlike those three films, Edgar Wright did have a good understanding of the original comic book but still, something was missing.

    It is a good film but at the end of the day for me it's a four star movie that left me unable to think of anything except that missing fifth star.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    Will always have time for Edgar Wright but I found "Scott Pilgrim" to be a load of old stupid, peurile nonsense, with a cast of characters that I couldn't care less about. And the fact that the twice as annoying Michael Cera is in the lead doesn't make things much better either.

    If you want movies about teenage heartbreak and angst, just refer to 80's John Hughes.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    A friend of mine hates it. He watched it without knowing I love it and said to me "Just watched Scott Pilgrim, what the hell was that all about?".

    Personally I watched it twice at the cinema. On first viewing I thought it was 'okay' but knew I had to watch it again as it's a constant stream of never ending 'comic book' scenes. On second viewing I picked up a lot of the jokes I missed before.

    The bluray has become a comfort, reached for in times of need. I think I've seen it close to 10 times now. This is unheard of for a film with me since my teens, me now being a mopey 36 year old.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    I and my friend are massive fans of Space, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I went to see Scott Pilgrim without him and came back blabbering praises for it.

    Once it came out on DVD I bought a copy and we sat down to watch it together. He went to bed about 25mins in. He hated it. His reason? "The jokes weren't funny."

    ...which is somewhat true, some of them fall flat, but I find it's all part of the charm. The film knows they're not rolling-in-the-aisle jokes, it's titter humour, and very entertaining titter humour.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    I still hear people saying that it was too wierd or too obscure, but I also hear that a lot of people gave it a second chance and found it better the second time around. I love the movie, I just think it gets better and better every time I watch it.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    Am I alone in enjoying it when it came out, and also thinking it's Edgar Wright's best film? Shaun of the Dead is good fun, but none of the characters are particularly charismatic...Scott Pilgrim is my favourite of his films. It's also Michael Cera's best performance in my opinion, and look at that supporting cast - Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alison Pill, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Jason Schwartzman, Mark Webber, Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman etc...all actors that have gone on to even more success since.

    I think the main problem on release was a 'Cera backlash'. Many people I know who at the time were NOT watching Arrested Development (I say this because everyone that was kinda understands where he was coming from) were growing tired of the hysteria surrounding him, as well as the similar typecasting for central protagonists (Jesse Eisenberg etc). Thing is, this was by far the wittiest and long-standing, and I realised that soon after seeing it - popular word-of-mouth films like Zombieland, which was bloated and tiresome, and Kick-Ass was way too populist, cheesy and completely unsavoury (Cage was the only redeeming factor).

    Don't get me wrong, there are some dodgy Cera flicks out there - I absolutely despised Juno (not particularly a Diablo Cody fan and had enjoyed Reitman Jr until then), Year One was crap and both Youth In Revolt and Paper Heart had something missing (I didn't even bother with Nick and Norah). But I honestly think Scott Pilgrim, and dare I say it, Superbad are near-perfect films. I know you won't agree with me on the latter but at least we can both defend the former!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    I love this film, adore the books it's based on and most importantly, have a thing for Ramona's ever changing hair.

    I saw it at the cinema and bought the BluRay. It's great and one of the films I watch when I'm a bit down because it always makes me happy. But a lot of its charm might go right over the average audience's head, in particular the incidental sound effects, especially those from Zelda, are just perfect, but rather niche market.

    I came to the film already knowing all the characters from the books so I can't comment on how somebody might react meeting them all for the first time. I grew to love Scott and company over many hours of reading. Regardless, it was a great pleasure to see such a charming and witty, openly gay character in Wallace being brought to the big screen in all his glory.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    My guess is the ones that didn't like it don't care anymore and have moved on.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    “now I can’t find anyone who will admit to not liking it.”

    We’ve not met Dr K, but I’ll happily own up to not liking it.
    Parts were OKish - up until the first fight: “Oh, it’s meant to look like they’re living inside a computer game or summat…?” What the...
    Guess it helps if you first liked the graphic novel, but it left me bored stiff.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    When I first watched Scott Pilgrim I wouldn't say I hated it but I thought it was okay, nothing special but then I watched it again recently and I loved it. I thought it was a brilliant piece of work. I think Scott Pilgrim is one of those movies you kind of have to be in the zone for. It's a movie of layers and sub-layers and if on the day your cerebral receptors are not in tune you'll be querying it's validity of existence and your effort in making a connection.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    I saw Scott Pilgrim with my 2 brothers (admittedly all around 40 years of age) and we all wanted to switch off after 20 minutes. A seriously irritating mess of a film.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

This twice-weekly video blog is the place where he airs his personal views on the things that most fire him up about cinema - and invites you to give your own opinions.

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