Monday, March 7, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs...Scott Pilgrim?

So, I finished the Scott Pilgrim series some time ago now.
I did stick to my “waiting simulation” described in this post.

Yes, I loved the actual/original series.  (How could one NOT?)  I enjoyed it for a few reasons. First, it’s just a HECK of a lot of fun. Second, it had been a delight to see how things became ‘translated’ to the movie screen.  Third, there had been plenty “additional” material so that it still seemed fresh.

One of the biggest differences, as I saw it, is that the film takes place with a degree of immediacy. For instance, meet the Evil Ex and BAM! the fight soon follows, with the exception of Roxie Richter. That imposed delay (by Scott), however, does happen in the books. But what I mean is the ‘novels’ take place over the course of a year or more. One of the volumes is all about the Summer. And when Scott does meet an Evil Ex in the books, there’s not an instant fight. The Katayanagi Twins, for example, he meets several times at various parties before he duels with them. Okay, granted, they start to send giant robots after Pilgrim to fight for them before he actually battles them. All of which, you see, is not in the movie at all. Plus, there’s plenty of backstory, side adventures and other characters that fell by the wayside...

All in all, I think the movie did a fantastic job of adapting the books. Yes, things are missing. Yes, events/tidbits are shifted from one character to another. Yes, dialogue/lines are moved.  Yes, there are general differences. But all of these are completely understandable and work incredibly well... as in they CAN be considered “extraneous” or are better suited where they are placed (for the film, not the books.) Plus, as I stated in another post, the movie allowed for quite a bit that the book could not do - sound effects, music, camera movement, etc. All of which served to enhance the delightful tale... one might say to the point of making up for whatever is lacking.

I must say, though, that every fight with an Evil Ex I liked better in the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I really liked the ‘real’ way, too. And the truth is that in most cases, the elements of the book are there... just expanded. And I prefer (perhaps too strong a word) how it turns out in the film. That is UNTIL... the FINAL Evil Ex. Folks, I adored the movie way fighting him. Pleased as punch. But... the book blows it away - and yet it has some of the same bits to make it all happen. I enjoy this “poetic justice” - that the movie improved each battle except for the ending. (Yes, I still like the movie way, too.)

I just have one complaint about the film now. One that I would never have had without reading the books. The film just did not play up “Subspace” nearly enough. In fact, it’s partly due to this loss that the ending is lacking (when compared to the books.) Yes, they do have it in the movie. [If you’ve seen it, it’s the “door” and the “’flying’ through blackness” (which is faithfully rendered to the screen.)] And it is, in fact, explained. Unfortunately, it’s just one line by Ramona and amid all the chaos and hilarity, it gets lost. Way lost. In the books, Ramona’s use of “Subspace” comes up rather frequently (ever so much more than movie.) Scott uses these “shortcut portals across space” on his own as well. Subspace plays a major role in the final battle. They also don’t explain that Ramona’s bag operates in Subspace, too. (Note that it has a star [book & film], like the doors.) No, Subspace is not completely made clear in the books. But it doesn’t need to be - it’s one of those things that work better with a degree of bewonderment. But the whole concept and use of it in the books is so terrific that it’s just a shame that this element of the story is downplayed in the film. But hey, at least it’s in it!

I am of course curious what my thoughts would be had I experienced the tale of Scott Pilgrim the other way around (i.e. the books first.) I’m willing to bet that the result would be just the same, though.  For the it's easy to love them both, for very different reasons.  Bravo to the filmmakers, all of those involved, for repackaging the story so magnificently.

Either way, I’m so happy to count Scott and his all his wackiness among my favorite characters.

Thanks, first and foremost, to Bryan Lee O’Malley! I must also give credit to Edgar Wright (director and screenplay) and Michael Bacall (screenplay) [as well as all the actors!]

Scott Pilgrim!

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