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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Blu-ray)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // November 9, 2010 // Region A
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 31, 2010 | E-mail the Author
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So, somewhere in the middle of Scott Pilgrim's second date with the very literal girl-of-his-dreams, one of her ex-boyfriends suddenly crashes through the ceiling. Within a
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minute or two, this guy breaks out into a Bollywood dance number, continues his shoulder-jiggling dance routine mid-air, spawns a gaggle of winged, fanged demon-hipster-chicks, and flings a barrage of fireballs Scott's way. 'Course, everyone knows that Scott Pilgrim is the best fighter in the province, so he air-juggles Ramona's ex Street Fighter-style until he bursts into a couple bucks in coins. Scott isn't concerned so much about the fact that a levitating, demon-summoning, pyrokinetic Indian kid had tried to kill him before exploding into pocket change; no, he's just miffed that the guy didn't leave enough for bus fare back home.

We're talking about a world where people dart around with manga speed lines trailing behind 'em. Knock off the right guy and there might be a power-up floating mid-air for you afterwards. Your girlfriend's handbag could be a gateway to another dimension altogether. Get whacked hard enough and "SPRAAANG!" might pop up behind you in big, bold letters before shattering to the ground. Heck, here Vegans are telekinetics with their own meat-free version of Hogwart's. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World plays kind of like a college radio DJ who went on an NES binge, devoured a couple shelves of manga at Barnes and Noble, and then mainlined bag after bag of Pixy Stix until passing out. In other words, it's pretty much the best thing ever.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is an unemployed twentysomething in Toronto who's still reeling from being dumped a year back. He just started dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), at least if you call palling around with a high schooler whose parents won't let her out after dark to be "dating". The whole thing's really G-rated, but they're both still getting something out of the deal. Knives gets to stare all doe-eyed at her cute, harmless boyfriend who plays bass in a garage band...Scott gets to ease back into dating with a girl where he doesn't have to try and there really aren't any stakes. She's naïve and he's kind of a creep: two peas, a pod, and all that. ...and it's right about here that Scott meets the girl of his dreams. No, I mean that literally. Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) rollerblades through Scott's head -- there's a really convenient subspace highway that runs through there to help her with the whole American Ninja Delivery Girl routine -- and he starts to get more than a little obsessed. He's a decent enough stalker to position himself into a couple of awkward conversations, and Ramona relents and agrees to go on something date-like with him. The two of 'em hit it off, but...well, every girl has demons in her past. It's just that Ramona's demons are pretty literal too, and a
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bunch of her exes have banded together to form a secret society of super-villains to control her love life. Ramona is provisionally dating Scott, but they can't really be together until Scott defeats all seven of her evil exes.

It might be worth mentioning that there's really no chance of me writing any sort of unbiased review. See, I'm a card-carrying Scottaholic. I mean, I don't actually have a card, but if there were one, I really would be carrying it around in my wallet and it'd probably be heavily autographed to boot. It's not too much of an exaggeration to say that Bryan Lee O'Malley's six Scott Pilgrim graphic novels are my favorite things in existence, and I don't think I'd ever looked forward to a movie more than this. Really, all you need to know is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is co-written and directed by Edgar Wright, the staggering talent behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. No rational person should need any more convincing than that. It's everything you loved about Spaced filtered through a much more seasoned filmmaker with a Hollywood summer tentpole budget at his fingertips. I'd go so far as to say that this is easily his most hysterical comedy yet, and that's from an acknowledged Edgar Wright fanboy. It's greatly appreciated that the jokes are...well, jokes too. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World doesn't lean on that Family Guy crutch of reference porn where you're supposed to crack up just because someone said "Inch High Private Eye" or whatever. There's no shortage of very specific video game references throughout the film, but you're not missing out on anything if you don't pick up on 'em. There's plenty of other stuff to laugh at instead, and better still, every last bit of the comedy tightly ties into the characters. Nothing feels ever stapled on just 'cause it's time for another comedic beat.

Wright doesn't let so much as a single frame go to waste, and his transitions from one scene to the next are exceptionally swift. A character'll start a line in one scene, turn around, and finish the rest of his dialogue someplace else entirely. Step into a bathroom to pee and you might stroll out in the middle of a dream. So much about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is overwhelmingly impressive, but I'm in awe of the sheer construction of it all, and it really does make every last second count. I've come across several reviews that have said that Edgar Wright is advancing the language of cinema with Scott Pilgrim, and...sure, I'll buy that. The movie feels very much like a live-action comic, going so far as to break the frame up into different panels. The aspect ratio is fairly fluid too, matching the way comic book panels so frequently shift in size and shape. Sound effects like "SMAK" are spelled out on screen and incorporated into the action. That's the sort of thing that in lesser hands might quickly feel like a stale gimmick, but Wright uses it perfectly. He's also a more skilled action director than pretty much anyone else working on these shores. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sports some of the most accomplished fight choreography I've come across in years, courtesy of Brad Allan, a seasoned
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stuntman who worked alongside Jackie Chan for ages. Fights this elaborate and acrobatic would impress no matter who's pulling it off. Even better here, though, the cast is doing a lot of the heavy lifting themselves rather than simply cutting to a stuntman. It's so much cooler to see a recognizable face still in the frame while delivering all these expertly executed punches and kicks. Edgar Wright wants you to see it too, preferring longer, more revealing takes rather than the choppy, spastic quick-cutting I'm used to suffering through. The fights belted out here easily outclass most traditional action flicks.

Music isn't just something wafting in the background throughout Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; it's a defining aspect of the movie, so I guess it works out that the soundtrack is this amazing. There are four different bands featured throughout the film. Beck hammered out a stack of fuzzy garage-rock numbers for Sex Bob-omb, Broken Social Scene drops in some five-second thrash for Crash and the Boys, and Cornelius swoops in for the Katayanagi Twins' electronic blasts. The actors in the movie wind up handling all the vocal chores too, and they all convincingly look as if they're really playing on-screen. I'm really impressed by how infectiously hooky Sex Bob-omb's songs are, but the real show-stopper is Metric's "Black Sheep". If you can listen to that and not immediately run out to buy the entire Metric catalog, you clearly have a lot more restraint than I do. Along with the original music are contributions by Frank Black, Beachwood Sparks, The Black Lips, The Bluetones, The Rolling Stones, and T-Rex. Nigel Godrich's score is half past brilliant too. The cue "Rumble" during the Lucas Lee rampage is an 8-bit redux of some of the music from The Warriors, "The Vegan" sounds like something dusted off from John Carpenter's vaults, and...well, the movie was reportedly heavily temp-tracked with Goblin's synth-heavy prog rock, and those influences creep into the finished product as well.

One of the things that makes Scott Pilgrim so compelling as a character is that he isn't so much the hero type. He's self-absorbed and prone to taking advantage of his friends. It's more thoughtless than finger-wagglingly evil, but still, he's kind of a dick. The guy's a bit of a dope too, and even if he can leap forty feet in the air and pull off a 65-hit combo, Scott's awfully lazy whenever he isn't square in the middle of a brawl. He has no real ambition and is trying to coast through his twenties with as little effort as possible. ...and he somehow manages to be charming and likeable at the same time. That's a pretty tough juggling act to pull off, and Michael Cera nails it. Yeah, yeah, there's a pretty big Cera backlash going around for whatever reason, but I've always liked the guy. He gets accused of playing the same character over and over, but that's not the case here at all. Scott is less witty than a lot of Cera's other characters have been, and he hardly ever whips out his
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trademark awkwardness here either. Scott's extremely confident, actually...he's just lazy. His take on Scott isn't as hyperenthusiastic as the character in the comics, but it works extremely well in this context. It's clearly a perfect casting choice.

Why stop there, though? The casting straight across the board is brilliant. A lot of these characters are seen only briefly, and the actors that Edgar Wright and company have lined up make every frame of screentime they get count. Before I get into those, though, I have to give a nod to Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Ramona is kind of a tricky role to play because the character is so guarded. Even across six books, it's easy to describe Ramona in terms of what she looks like and what she does, but it's a lot tougher to dig into her actual personality. She doesn't put a lot of herself out there, and Winstead doesn't have a thousand-plus pages of canvas to work with either. She's perfect, though, striking that balance between being aloof, vulnerable, and the coolest girl in the room...a dream girl at a glance and enough of a blank slate that you can project whatever you want onto her. Kieran Culkin steals every last scene he's in as Wallace Wells, Scott's cool gay roommate. Wallace scores pretty much all the best lines and most of the best physical gags. Ellen Wong is another definite highlight, brilliantly capturing Knives' wide-eyed flavor of teenage puppy love. I think I like Movie-Knives better than Comic-Knives, even. ...and it keeps going from there. If you've already torn into Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a few times, give it another look and just pay attention to what Johnny Simmons is doing in the background as Young Neil the whole time. Alison Pill makes for a cacklingly acidic Kim Pine, Brie Larson nails the sultry posturing of an art-rock cover girl, and Aubrey Plaza gets some of the movie's biggest laughs as the hypervulgar Julie Powers. Geez, and I haven't even said anything about the League of Evil Exes, played here by Satya Bhabha, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Mae Whitman (a mini-Arrested Development reunion!), Keita and Shota Saito, and the too-awesome-for-words Jason Schwartzman as the smarmy puppet master behind it all. I mean, just hit up thesaurus.com for "amazing" and pretend I said everything listed there for every actor on down the line, and I really do mean it. There's not a weak link anywhere in the cast.

I'll admit that it took a second viewing of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for me to really appreciate it. Maybe it's just because I'd read the original graphic novels to the point of rote memorization, but the pace seemed dizzyingly manic my first time through. The movie screamed ahead so quickly that I frequently felt disoriented early on. My favorite parts of the books were often the in-between stuff: just Scott and his friends sitting around and talking. The characters in the books are so multidimensional that they often come across as genuine people, and I felt at first as if its film adaptation captured every bit of the action but lost of the heart of it all in the process. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is startlingly faithful to the first three books in the series, reproducing slews of panels verbatim and carrying over quite a bit of the dialogue. Some of these lines that read perfectly on the page sounded
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stilted and unnatural to me when spoken aloud, though. The only reason I mention all this is that every complaint I had evaporated the second time through. If you're a rabid fan of the books and didn't quite take to Scott Pilgrim back when it was making the rounds in theaters, give it a second look. You may feel wind up feeling completely differently too.

The books span more than a thousand pages all told, while the movie clocks in somewhere around 106 minutes without credits. Obviously something's gotta go, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World turns this into a strength. While the books span a full year, the movie crams that down into a spastic week and a half. Tightening the timeline amps up the energy of the movie quite a bit -- once he squares off against Evil Ex #1, Scott never really has a chance to catch his breath -- and it even makes a lot of sense dramatically as well. It's not at all unreasonable to ask how Scott could fall in love so quickly that part of the way through their second date, he'd be willing to face death over and over and over (repeat seven times) to win the heart of a girl he barely knows. The answer's right there waiting for you. There's definitely stuff I miss, of course. Kim Pine was my favorite character in the books, and most of her stuff has been snipped out. Honest Ed's is only briefly glimpsed through a pizza shop window. Ramona's head never glows. Lynette doesn't have a bionic arm this time around. The timeline's too compressed for Scott's job hunt or anything to make it in here. Knives' sword-swinging dad never once pops up. Really, borderline-nothing from volume five of the books made it in here at all, and the movie only nicks the extended climax from the sixth and final book. That's actually pretty great. I still have the graphic novels to turn to if I want to expand on the size and scope of this world, and the changes that have been made feel very much in step with the sensibility of the books. Even though he did wind up trotting down a different path with his own work, Bryan Lee O'Malley was closely involved in the production of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World every step of the way, so all of it still rings true. The more I watch the movie, the better able I am to
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appreciate it on its own merits, and I find myself digging it more and more each time.

I kind of do have to lay down a few ground rules for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, though. Turn off your phone. If you've gotta eat during the movie, don't grab anything that requires you to take your eyes off the screen. This is a movie that really demands a viewer's undivided attention to be fully appreciated, especially early on. I mean, throughout the first reel, it seems as if it's cutting to a completely different scene every twelve seconds, and you'll miss out on all those incredibly clever transitions if you're texting or whatever. The movie generally shrugs off exposition, preferring instead to introduce some concepts visually. For one, if you've never picked up the comics before and aren't paying all that much attention, it might take you a while to clue in that Scott's ex-girlfriend Natalie is now going by the name of Envy. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World also plays better with a crowd, so if you can watch it with someone rather than just sitting in your living room by yourself with the lights off, you'll be a lot better for it.

Hit up any movie-centric message board and you'll immediately find hundreds of people griping about how everything being churned out in Hollywood these days is a sequel, a remake, or so mindlessly formulaic that it might as well be one of the above. Why more of those people didn't catch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when it was in theaters, I have no idea. That a studio like Universal would invest $60 million -- or whatever the final price tag wound up being -- into a movie this uncompromising and this ambitious is practically cause for a ticker tape parade. I'd say without hesitation that this is the funniest comedy I've seen this year. I haven't come across a flick -- filmed on these shores, at least -- with action this consistently brilliantly executed in forever. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sports one of my all-time favorite soundtracks, and I haven't even retreaded its visual inventiveness, masterful editing and tightly-woven construction, pitch-perfect casting, or its surprisingly mature underlying message yet. Pick any single piece of that praise and apply it to a movie, and that'd be remarkable. To think that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World nails all of that itself...? I know there are still a couple months left to go, but this is without a doubt my favorite film of the year. As it turns out, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World might also wind up being my favorite not-a-boxed-set Blu-ray release of 2010, so look forward to another...um, five thousand words about that in a moment. The quick, high-level summary, though...? DVD Talk Collector Series.


Video
I could churn out a long, rambling write-up here -- and I probably still will! -- but the short version is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World looks absolutely perfect on Blu-ray. Even more than most, the look of this movie has been meticulously sculpted, and all of that translates to Blu-ray flawlessly. Colors are deliberately muted and kind of overcast early on, but they become more vibrantly saturated once Ramona first rears her candy-colored pink head. This is a movie with an especially deliberate use of color, and this Blu-ray disc matches what I remember seeing in theaters a couple months back. Black levels are wonderfully deep and inky without ever crushing away any detail, and although the movie toys with the contrast in the blown-out dream sequences, it's otherwise rock solid throughout. It's borderline-insane how crisp and detailed the image is. To really put it in context, here's a quick DVD-to-Blu-ray comparison. You'll obviously need to click on those smaller images to get the full idea.

DVD Blu-ray
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The DVD doesn't come close to approaching the clarity of the high-def image, and it's so much duller and muddier compared to this Blu-ray disc. The pattern in the background is much less distinct, the grain fades away, and Ramona's hair and her blue shirt pocket are completely different shades. I know I already spouted off "perfect" a paragraph up, but I kind of have to say it again. Perfect!

Really, I can't find anything to gripe about here at all. This Blu-ray disc has been nicked straight from the digital intermediate, so there's no speckling or wear. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was shot primarily on 35mm, and it still retains a nicely filmic look with a very tight and unintrusive sheen of grain. There's no sign of any heavy-handed filtering or edge enhancement either. Even with the sheer volume of stuff crammed onto this Blu-ray disc, I couldn't spot any trace of digital artifacting either. Nope, the only blocking you'll find anywhere on here is the 8-bit pixelization in a couple of the boss battles, and obviously that's all completely intentional. There have been some early complaints that this Blu-ray disc is too dark. It definitely is dimmer than the trailers I've come across online, but what I'm seeing here looks more natural and better balanced to my eyes. Your mileage may vary.

The AVC encode for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World spans both layers of this BD-50 disc, and the hours and hours and hours of extras fill up just about every spare byte from there. The aspect ratio varies throughout -- the bigger brawls and the desert dream sequences are more heavily letterboxed to give 'em an even more cinematic look -- but the movie is generally presented at its theatrical ratio of 1.85:1.


Audio
Look, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn't the kind of flick you watch on the crackly built-in speakers on your TV with the volume dialed down. No, this is a movie
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that screams out to be experienced in 5.1 with the volume cranked up till the foundation of your house starts to wobble.

If Scott Pilgrim doesn't take home a shiny gold statuette for Best Sound Editing at the Academy Awards next year, there's even more wrong with the world than I thought. The sound design is just astonishing, teeming with subtle sonic flourishes. It seems as if every shot has been sweetened in some way, from the whooshes of the whip pans all the way to dialogue being punctuated by guitar feedback or 8-bit bloops. This is all handled so deftly that it often doesn't draw attention to itself, but it works: the mix never sounds anything less than vibrant and alive. The rears hardly ever stop chattering away, especially whenever Scott's in the middle of a brawl: skateboard-fu, fireballs being flung from every direction, hipster thugs exploding into showers of coins, thunderous waves of electronica, bodies being flung clear across the room, Roxy's forty-foot razor whip, and the clanging of Knives'...well, knives are just a few of the effects that take full advantage of the surround channels. This is just a hyperaggressive and unrelentingly immersive soundtrack. Bass response is consistently tight and punchy without ever sounding overcooked, and the subwoofer hits like a slug to the gut during the spastic fight sequences. Who knew a guy thunking his head against a telephone pole could sound this great?

This is one of the best lossless soundtracks I've ever come across. Every last element is rendered clearly and distinctly, with nothing ever sounding muddled together. Even with as chaotic as the movie can get, its dialogue is consistently discernable (I mean, except when it being drowned out is played for laughs). The music showcased throughout Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is nothing short of brilliant as well, and even with as many times as I've listened to the soundtrack CD, it sounds so much more perfect here. I can't muster any complaints at all, although you could probably tell that already what with all those stars in the sidebar and all. Reference quality! Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the first Blu-ray discs I'd grab off the shelf to show what my home theater rig can do.

If you keep up with Blu-ray reviews, it probably goes without saying what the technical specs are this time around: 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio. There are also lossy DTS 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish along with a Descriptive Video Service track. This Blu-ray release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is also enhanced for D-Box bass shakers. Subtitle streams are served up in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.


Extras
Fully exploring every square inch of the extras on this Blu-ray release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World takes over seventeen hours. So, I guess you might as well make a cheese sandwich and kick up your feet 'cause this is gonna take a while to get through.

  • Audio Commentaries: Four! Four commentary tracks means four more excuses to tear through Scott Pilgrim vs. the World again. All
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    three of the writers behind the movie -- Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall, and creator Bryan Lee O'Malley -- take center stage for the first track. They talk about different concepts that came and went, both in the books and the movie, such as nested Gideons, Scott and Ramona both having fooled around with the same ex, an introduction to Ramona's nice ex-boyfriend (Philip!), and originally there not being any real Sex Bob-omb music heard at all. Edgar Wright notes how this take on Gideon was inspired by both Phantom of the Paradise and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a combination that makes me ridiculously thrilled to hear, and he also explains why the whole Ninja Ninja Revolution element had been brought in. I love the entire commentary -- this one's easily the best of the four on the disc -- and I particularly enjoyed listening to Bryan Lee O'Malley delve into what elements of the books were drawn from his own life, including the origin of Knives' name and too many Matthews inspiring the League of Evil Exes. If you only have time to dive into one of these commentaries, this first track would get the nod from me.

    Edgar Wright returns for Audio Commentary Numero Two-oh, and this time he's joined by director of photography Bill Pope, making what I'm surprised to hear is his very first appearance on a commentary track. This is a much more technically-oriented discussion, so if talk of anamorphic lens flares, VistaVision, variable aspect ratios, color saturation, and a digital camera that can snap 1,500 frames per second gets you all hot and bothered, then you really ought to get a lot out of this track. I'm nerdy enough to love hearing about this sort of stuff, so I definitely dug it. The conversation is obviously most intensely oriented around shaping the look of film, including the subtle manipulation to locations and even trees to make them look more like Bryan Lee O'Malley's streamlined artwork, doing as many of the lighting effects as possible in-camera, and running through the many technical challenges that crept into pretty much every single shot in the movie. There's also some not-so-technical chatter that I don't think is covered anywhere else on the disc, such as why Gideon has an enormous pyramid in the Chaos Theater, how conducting a crowd of extras is a lot like playing a theremin, and the challenges in hiding stunt men in plain sight.

    The cast splits up into two groups for their audio commentaries, with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and...eventually!...Brandon Routh taking the reins first. The five of 'em lean back and laugh a lot, and there is some dead air when they fall into the trap of just watching the movie rather than talking about it. There are a lot of pretty solid stories that aren't mentioned anywhere else on the disc, though: the injuries that Satya Bhabha and Mary Elizabeth Winstead had to suffer through during the shoot, Brie Larson slathering her legs in Vaseline to put on her boots, Jason Schwartzman doing a whole Method thing by having Gideon wear Ramona's perfume and panties, a drunk driver nearly plowing into pretty much everyone at one point, and Michael Cera having to reshoot a few scenes 'cause he was wearing the wrong shirt. Oh, and they also tear off on tangents about baklava, the best burger joints in town, and what movies Cera picked up on VHS at Goodwill. I wish it were more consistent, though. I mean, I definitely laughed along with this commentary, but not as often as I would've liked, and the five of them don't dig as deeply into the movie as I hoped they would. Still, if you're a fan of any of the actors on the bill -- and I am! -- it's worth setting aside a couple of hours to give it a listen.

    For the fourth and final commentary, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Kieran Culkin, and Mark Webber all cram into the recording booth. They kinda just watch the movie and giggle, though, and no one seems all that sure what to say, exactly. The four of 'em spend more time talking about how drunk they got at the premiere and ranking different brands of soda than they do chatting about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Blankets of white felt standing in for snow and Anna Kendrick dyeing her hair darker for one gag to work are about as much insight as it gets into the filming process. There are small pockets of funny -- riffs on Popeye's TV spots, vegan tacos, Michael Cera's mono-nipple, and a too-amazing-for-words Jason Schwartzman
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    impression -- but there's a lot less of that than you'd think, so the whole thing's kind of pointless at the end of the day. This is definitely the least essential of the four tracks.

    It's too bad Edgar Wright or Bryan Lee O'Malley didn't sit in on the actors' commentaries. The cast asks a lot of questions that either one of 'em would probably be able to answer, and someone sitting in to play moderator like that likely could've sparked some really terrific discussion. As it is, the cast commentaries are kind of formless and all over the place, neither funny nor informative enough to really scream out for a listen. The first two commentary tracks are definitely worth it, though, and Cera and company's is still kind of marginal.

  • U-Control: This feature places what I'm pretty sure is well over a thousand different storyboards into a picture-in-picture window that's displayed throughout Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. These storyboards are presented elsewhere on the disc as well if you'd just as soon thumb through them quickly, but they're displayed at a much larger size here, and this presentation is obviously screen-specific. It's a mix of panels from Bryan Lee O'Malley's books mixed in with boards sketched by Oscar Wright specifically for the movie.

  • Trivia Track: I'm usually not so much a fan of subtitle trivia tracks, but the one on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World might have made me a convert. The production design throughout the movie is brilliant, and every scene is peppered with tiny Easter Eggs lurking in the background. My favorite thing about the trivia track is how it points all of that out. I never noticed the Guitar Wolf poster on the wall, the brand names on Sex Bob-ombs' amps, or promo-doll-thingies of the Katayanagi twins hanging up in the record store, f'r instance. If you miss some of the nods to different video games that are used as sound effects or snippets of music that are quoted/covered, the track spells all that out too. It's even revealed that the inspiration for one of Lucas Lee's most smugly delivered lines was something that the frontman of The Hives had actually told Edgar Wright. The pace of the trivia track does seem to ease up after a while, but there's still a fairly steady stream of great stuff throughout, and anything that gives a nod to the mighty Kirby Crackle is pretty much beyond criticism anyway. I'd recommend pairing this with one of the audio commentaries for maximum infotainment.

  • Deleted Scenes (27 min.; HD): With as tightly woven as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is, I didn't think there'd be much in the way of deleted scenes, but...yeah. I was way off. This reel of twenty-one different scenes clocks in just shy of a half-hour, and it can be played all at once or each scene can be selected individually. You probably don't want to suffer through a long list of titles, so I'll just rattle off a few of the highlights: we get to see Scott meeting Knives (and her mom!) for the first time, Crash and the Boys plow through one additional song, and there's photographic evidence of Scott getting to first-and-a-half base with Rammy. Scott and Ramona's first date is a lot different, plus he finds out four volumes early that she smokes every once in a while. Wallace gets a good bit of additional screentime as well, and, at one point, Scott, um, sees even more of him than we do. Rabid fans will spot a few extra moments throughout all this that have been taken directly from the books. The fights are a little different here as well, including a different ending for the bass battle, the original cut of the Roxy/Ramona brawl, and an extended take on the first hipster onslaught, including some slo-mo acrobatics. The movie's original ending has been included here as well, and although a lot of the beats are the same, the end result is completely different. Some of the scenes leading up to the alternate ending have been rejiggered as well; there's a press of the reset button that places Scott in a completely different spot, for instance, and a power-up he activates functions in a completely different way too.

    All of this footage is accompanied by optional commentary by Edgar Wright, and his notes go a lot deeper than just chanting "cut for pacing!" the way a lot of other directors' deleted scene commentaries go. Wright points out a gaffe with Stacey riding a bus when she's supposed to be at work that I completely missed, he reveals the secret ingredient of fake snow, how one character scored bigger laughs when all the foreshadowing was
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    snipped out, and he explains what's going on with the whole blue-tinted cigarette thing.

    I completely understand why this material was trimmed out, but there is a lot of really terrific stuff in here, and I'm very glad to see that it found its way onto this Blu-ray disc...and in high definition, even.

  • Alternative Footage (19 min.; SD): This heading is chopped up into two sections, beginning with twelve minutes of "Alternative Edits". It's a montage of different versions of a bunch of different scenes, including Scott actually saying "Fuck Man", Sandra and Monique snickering at Ramona's name, Wallace calling Rammy a slut ::audible gasp!::, a whole thing about how ironic it is that Envy's jealous, a "crummy way to end things" runner, a bigger response when Scott asks Ramona if there's anyone in that ritzy club she hadn't slept with, and lotsa little extensions near the end.

    "Bits and Pieces" (7 min.), meanwhile, strings together a bunch of improvs that were tossed out, like Brandon Routh's "Scott Pilgrim's about to go down...and this time, it's on me!" Some of this stuff would've fit pretty comfortably into the gag reel, like Alison Pill vs. the Fly and Chris Evans trying to wire-fu his way onto grinding a rail. As ever, Kieran Culkin and Jason Schwartzman's improvs walk away and steal the whole thing.

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the Bloopers (10 min.; SD): This is kind of one of the best gag reels ever, complete with a gurgling tummy blowing a take, Brie Larson taking a tumble in the middle of belting out "Black Sheep", and 33 takes of Michael Cera trying to toss that package from amazon.ca behind him. It's the extra-brilliant fumbling around by Jason Schwartzman that makes this required viewing, though.

  • Adult Swim: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation (4 min.; SD): Scott and Kim used to have a thing going back in high school, and that secret origin deal is tackled in this four minute animated snippet. The art and dialogue are nicked directly from volume two of the books, so...yeah. Romance! Bare-knuckle action! Lisa Miller is only mentioned offhand in the movie but is featured pretty prominently here, and we also get to see Scott put together his first band. The cast of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World lend their voices to this short too, with Mae Whitman taking the reins as Lisa and Jason Schwartzman tackling badnik Simon Lee. It's the closest I'll probably ever get to a River City Ransom cartoon too, so even though it's a little more stiff than I'd like, this one's definitely worth taking the time to watch.

  • Documentaries (1 hr., 19 min.): The centerpiece -- well, one of several centerpieces, I guess -- of this Blu-ray disc is its fifty minute making-of documentary. If you only have time to tear into one of the many behind-the-scenes extras, this'd be the one to tune into. It covers an enormous amount of ground, as you could probably guess by its runtime: Bryan Lee O'Malley's fluid creative process, lining up the sprawling ensemble cast, the lengthy amount of time devoted to rehearsals, using the actual locations in Toronto that are featured in the books, the elaborate stunt choreography that put quite a bit of the burden on the cast, translating O'Malley's stylized artwork to the movie's make-up design and costuming, and the grueling weeks of training. There are a slew of really great notes in here, such as the reveal that Michael Cera was cast so early on that he was really too young for the part, but the gestation process was so long that he wound up being age-appropriate after all. I also love some of the behind-the-scenes footage that's shown, such as the crew swooping in to reshuffle the moving set while Scott's in pee time, showing off the rubber
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    Rickenbacker that's tossed around during the fight with Matthew Patel, and the real-life Stacey PilgrimO'Malley handing Anna Kendrick her actual nametag from her days at Second Cup.

    I guess the well of clever names for extras started to run dry, so there's an awesomely titled music featurette called "Music Featurette" (16 min.; SD). Some of the talent behind Scott Pilgrim's songs chat about their involvement, including Metric, Broken Social Scene, and producer/composer Nigel Godrich. Broken Social Scene talks about writing five-second thrashcore, Edgar Wright quips about how one Battle of the Bands sequence pits Beck against his Japanese counterpart, there's an extended peek at Clash at Demonhead rehearsing, and we also get to hear about how two-thirds of Sex Bob-omb had never picked up an instrument before. There's a lot of good stuff in here -- lining up the rest of the soundtrack, leaving the bands that were recording original music to their own devices to see what they'd come up with, and how inspiring it is to see an eight-year-old kid flip off a camera -- but the highlight for me is Sloan's Chris Murphy rocking out on an acoustic, and that leads me straight into...

    Slooooooooooooooooan! Last up is "You Too Can Be Sex Bob-omb" (3 min.; SD), which has Chris Murphy giving Mark Webber some tips and tricks on how to play "Garbage Truck" on an acoustic...and how to look like a rock star while doin' it.

  • Pre-Production (1 hr., 28 min.; SD): Yup, the five featurettes under this heading wind up being feature-length in their own right.

    "Pre-Production Footage" (15 min.) consists of ten short snippets, many of which use the first fight with Matthew Patel to explore how Edgar Wright's vision might turn out on-screen. There's an animatic based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's original artwork, test footage of a rig that'd let Patel rotate around in mid-air after being punched, and even some animation to chart the speed and pathing of Patel being juggled around mid-air by Scott. This all culminates in a test shoot for the Patel fight that melds together the animatic with live-action footage -- different cast, tho' -- that winds up being extremely close to what's in the movie proper. The excerpt of Lucas Lee's "Cold Call" that Wallace is watching on TV is shown here in full, and there's also a cigarette removal test for a running gag that wound up being tossed out. There's even a closer look at the Mecha-Gideon concept that didn't make its way into the finished product. The recording session for the bass battle has been included here as well, featuring Jason Falkner, one of my favorite musicians on the planet. Last to bat are all the different elements behind the Ninja Ninja Revolution arcade game: the original motion capture footage, pre-visualization, early renders, and the polished end product.

    This is followed by thirty-six minutes of animatics, combining together comic art, rehearsals, test footage, storyboards, previz, and even Brie Larson vamping it up during her hair/make-up test. Seventeen sequences are explored here in all, including all of the evil ex encounters, and sometimes in different iterations, even. The exes are definitely the focus here, but there are some other scenes too, such as The Clash at Demonhead's performance and Knives' frantic hair-dyeing.

    After that...? Eight short rehearsal videos, averaging a little over a minute a pop. There's a handheld camera version of the opening sequence, this time with everyone but Michael Cera delivering their dialogue in cartoony Bri'ish accents. On the more musical end of things, there's a rehearsal of the bass battle as well as Sex Bob-omb tearing through "Summertime". We also score an extra peek at the training and choreography, and a definite highlight for me is an early series of scene transitions with Bill Pope and some other middle-aged member of the crew standing in for Scott and Knives.

    The reel of casting tapes (14 min.) showcases most of the ensemble: Ellen Wong, Mark Webber, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Brandon Routh, Satya Bhabha, Anna Kendrick,
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    Mae Whitman, Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons, and Kieran Culkin. Everyone -- on both sides of the camera, even -- is clearly having a blast, but the two biggest highlights come at the end. One has Culkin and Michael Cera performing together, and the other is a pint-sized kid named Abigail Chu perched in front of a drum kit to play Trasha.

    The "Props, Rigs, and Sets Montage" unspools for three minutes and shows off everything that spins, smashes, or gets trashed. Finally, "Hair and Make-up Footage" is a series of tests for pretty much all of the main cast to see how their looks translate to film, and it's kinda hilarious to see Michael Cera posing like a Sears catalog model.

  • Visual Effects (20 min.; SD): Frazer Churchill spends fifteen minutes guiding viewers through all of the different elements that bring Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's ambitious visuals to life: adding snow to rooftops in the middle of this less-than-wintry shoot, digitally replacing the fake stubby legs that Chris Evans chucked towards Casa Loma, hammering out all the CG-enhanced weaponry, creating the sonic creature battle, and how to make hipsters explode into showers of coins. This easily ranks among the best visual effects featurettes I've ever come across. Churchill covers an enormous number of shots and takes care to explain both the "how" and the "why". This footage is presented like an audio commentary, only Churchill has the ability to rewind the footage where necessary to highlight a point. We also get to see each individual element as well as what each stage of compositing looks like. It's impressive to see just how much work goes into completing a single shot, especially considering just how much of the movie has been sweetened like this.

    There are two other clips in the VFX section too. The first of 'em is the Roxy/Ramona rampage before any of the CG was added in, and since Mae Whitman is fresh out of razor belts, she's whipping around a ribbon instead. There's also a montage of all the blue screen slow motion footage that was shot with the digital Phantom camera. The ribbon fight clocks in just over a minute, and the slo-mo reel is a little under four minutes.

  • Soundworks Collection: Sound for Film Profile (5 min.; SD): Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sports some truly exceptional sound design, and its construction is explored in this featurette: everything from the little splashes of color lurking in the background, the use of sound to help shape a rhythm for the movie, crafting distinct punch effects for each brawl, the spastic use of surrounds during the bigger battles, making the studio songs sound convincingly live...kinda crams a lot into the space of five minutes.

  • Blogs (46 min.; SD): Edgar Wright kept a vlog going during the production of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the twelve main videos -- along with three bonus clips! -- have all been archived on this Blu-ray disc. Lotsa firsts are highlighted here: the first day of principal photography, the first day of location shooting, the first night shoot-slash-first big fight sequence, and the first Sex Bob-omb performance in front of a sprawling crowd. Bryan Lee O'Malley shows off some of the real-life locations he'd drawn into the books that also made their way onto the big screen, and Ellen Wong and Mary Elizabeth Winstead also offer up tours of their characters' meticulously designed pads. There's also some stuff I wouldn't expect to see: background extras being chatted up, a good bit on the grueling training and sword fighting, my musical hero Chris Murphy featured front and center, and -- why not? -- a hula-hoop challenge. Stuntwork, transforming a
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    sketchy frat house into Julie's place for her party, the exceptionally convincing recreation of Lee's Palace, the cast showing off their battle scars, dude...yeah, there's kind of a lot here. The best thing about these blogs is that they're practically spilling over the top with personality, and that just makes it all a ridiculous amount of fun to watch.

  • Music Promos (19 min.; SD): Even though Edgar Wright knew he couldn't play all of these songs in their entirety in the movie, he still shot full-length performances for 'em. All of that footage has been repurposed into music videos for three Sex Bob-omb songs -- "Garbage Truck", "Threshold", and "Summertime" -- along with The Clash at Demonhead's "Black Sheep". Since the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack features the Metric version of "Black Sheep", this is the only place to hear Brie Larson handling the vocal chores for the entire song. Osymyso also hammered out seven visual remixes, melding sound effects, dialogue, and music from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World to make his own unique songs. Those were making the rounds on different websites to promote the film, and all of them have found their way onto this Blu-ray disc.

  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the Censors: The TV Safe Version (4 min.; SD): Edgar Wright teased on Twitter a while back about all the ridiculous dialogue changes that were recorded to sanitize Scott Pilgrim for television, and a reel of all that has been piled on here. There's nothing quite as legendary as "melon farmer", no, but a lot of these changes really are pretty ingenious, especially having '80s cartoon characters standing in for four-letter words. You gossipy pooch!

  • Galleries (HD): Scott Pilgrim vs. the World piles on twelve different photo and image galleries, and the grand total is over a thousand different pictures. That's gotta be some kind of record.

    First up are fifty-something behind-the-scenes shots, and it's really cool to have the camera pull back and give a full view of the sets. Edgar Wright kept a photo-a-day blog while toiling away in Toronto, and all 320 (!) of those pictures have clawed their way onto this Blu-ray disc. I particularly dug the closer look at the production design; there are all sorts of clever gags hidden deep in the background, and they're featured front and center here. Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, and Mark Webber also snapped a few shots during production, and they score small photo galleries all their own too.

    The largest gallery piles together 377 pages of storyboards that encompass every single shot in the film. These are a good bit smaller than the expanded shots in the U-Control feature, but if you just want to flip through 'em really quickly, you can do that here. Included in a separate gallery are storyboards and conceptual art from the Mecha-Gideon battle that closed out the flick in the original drafts. Oh, and speaking of conceptual art, there's also a gallery of sixty or so images of set designs, sonic monsters, clothing, and entire arsenals of weapons. To show off just how faithful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is to the original graphic novels, this Blu-ray disc serves up 157 different comparison shots.

    If you want a closer look at the flipcharts Bryan Lee O'Malley drew for the Battle of the Bands strategy session thingies, a few of those are featured here as well. There's also one gallery of
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    real posters -- y'know, for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World -- and another with fake ones: concert fliers, oodles of promos for The Clash at Demonhead, plus a stack of posters for a few Lucas Lee and Winifred Hailey flicks.

  • Trailers (19 min.; SD): Last up are a few reels of promotional stuff, including three trailers (teaser, primary, and international), eighteen TV spots, and a bunch of plugs for the too-awesome-for-words video game from UbiSoft.

  • Bonus Movie: Oh! ...and you can also stream Pitch Black or Tremors over the Internet. Why those two movies, I have no idea.

It is kind of a shame that the video-based extras didn't score a disc all their own. Some of this footage -- such as the hair/makeup tests and some of the interviews -- is excerpted in HD in the making-of doc, but the full versions are limited to standard definition to get it to all fit on one disc. Also, considering that Scott Pilgrim had pretty much taken over the San Diego Comic Con this past summer, it's a drag that nothing from that onslaught found its way onto this Blu-ray disc either. There was a whole contest a few months back for unsigned indie bands to get a music video featured on the DVD and Blu-ray disc, but I don't see that anywhere on here. Hmmm. I don't want to sound greedy for being handed seventeen or eighteen hours of material and still be asking for more, but...well, I guess that's exactly what I'm doing. It's a compliment!

There's a second disc tucked inside and all, but it's just a DVD copy of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. A digital copy will be available to download, although the link for it isn't active as of this writing. The switch for the BD Live portal on the disc also hasn't been flipped on quite yet. For anyone keeping track at home, this two-disc set comes packaged in an embossed cardboard sleeve, and the menus on the disc are pretty awesomely 8-bitten.


The Final Word
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is
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a breathlessly infectious adrenaline rush. There's not a single wasted frame anywhere in here, and the movie is so densely packed with gags that you'll still be picking out new stuff in the background your eighth or ninth time through. Edgar Wright's adaptation of the comics is startlingly faithful at times yet still very much its own beast. Part of me definitely would've liked to have spent more time in this world and gotten to know these takes on its characters better, but I still have the books for that. Its manic pace and greatly condensed timeframe wind up being two of the movie's greatest strengths. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World also piles together a sprawling and consistently brilliant ensemble cast. It's one of the most visually inventive and tightly constructed films of the literally thousands I've devoured over the years. Scott Pilgrim's massive fight sequences are so astonishingly well-choreographed and perfectly executed that it puts pretty much every traditional action flick of recent memory to shame, plus it's howlingly funny and sports one of the best soundtracks of anything, ever. This is one of those rare films I find myself liking more and more every time I see it too.

The movie never panders. It hasn't been watered down to appeal to a broader audience. Playing like some kind of hypercaffeinated amalgam of manga, Saturday morning cartoons, and a stack of twenty-something-year-old issues of Nintendo Power, I'm still kind of floored that a movie like this even exists. If you missed out on Scott Pilgrim when it was making the rounds in theaters, it's well-worth discovering now that you can grab it on a shiny 5" disc to watch whenever you want. If you're debating whether or not it's worth it to spring the extra few bucks to pick up Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Blu-ray, the DVD looks like it only includes the deleted scenes, the trivia track, the blooper reel, the galleries, and the audio commentaries, so...yeah, with more than seventeen hours of extras in all, the Blu-ray disc is a way better value, not to mention its reference quality presentation.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is in the running as my favorite movie of 2010 as well as the best Blu-ray disc of the year, so...yeah. Buy and stuff. DVD Talk Collector Series.
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