SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Length: 1 hr 53 mins
Genre: Comedy/Comic Book/Rock and Roll/Video Game
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: AVC (@ an average 25 mbps)
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.0 mbps, up to 5.5 mbps in the musical performances)
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS (Descriptive Visual Service) 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: PG-13 (Stylized Violence, Sexual Content, Language, Drug References)
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman
Based on the comic books by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Screenplay by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Film Rating: 3/5
“We are Sex Bob-Omb, and we are here to watch Scott Pilgrim kick your teeth in! One-two-three-four!”
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World feels like three or four movies rolled into one, and when it works, it’s very effective. Adapted from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s semi-autobiographical comic book series, the movie is one part comic book, one part kung-fu actioner, one part grunge rock opus, and one part video game. And when I say video game, I’m reaching back in time to the days of the NES game console, and even before that to the days of arcade games like Double Dragon. Right off the bat, director Edgar Wright starts his movie with an NES version of the Universal logo, partly as a way of giving the audience a major hint about what is coming. The movie then proceeds with its very simple plot, introducing us to Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, in his usual mode) and quickly setting up his attraction to a mysterious girl named Ramona with brightly colored red hair (a la Charlie Brown’s “little red-haired girl”), played by a beautifully understated Mary Elizabeth Winstead. As soon as he’s gone on a date with her (and thus cheated on his underage girlfriend Knives Chao (Ellen Wong)), he discovers that Ramona has no less than seven “evil exes”, each of whom will now challenge him in a battle to the death. Much like a video game, the movie builds each of these confrontations with “boss” characters until the final showdown with the greatest and most evil of Ramona’s exes. And each time Pilgrim gets past one of the exes, a bonus score is displayed onscreen, and coins rain down. Along the way, we also get to experience Pilgrim’s grunge band, Sex Bob-Omb (music actually written by Beck), and its struggle to get established with a major contract.
There’s a lot going on here, much of which goes very well, as directed by Edgar Wright, with the same assurance that poured through his earlier film, Hot Fuzz. The fights themselves are nicely choreographed and beautifully shot. The highlight is easily a band face-off between Sex Bob-omb and a pair of keyboardists, where the musical battle is represented onscreen by animated characters generated by each band’s amplifiers. There’s some great use of split screen, and a fair amount of CGI – some of which is meant to be noticed, and some of which slides by without the viewer knowing just how much of the onscreen action was real. At the same time, this is pretty arch material, and it’s pretty bold about its belief in its own hipness. I have a feeling viewers will likely not react to this film in any halfway manner – they’ll either love this movie or they’ll really hate it. And I can’t really say which way the reader will go. I don’t know myself that I’m convinced that Michael Cera knows much kung fu, or that his character could survive half of the things that are thrown at him here. I can only recommend that you at least rent the disc and experience it for yourself. At the very least, you’ll get to see a lovely and enigmatic performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and a few high-powered cameos along the way as Scott Pilgrim fights his way through the movie.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has been released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray this past Tuesday. The Blu-ray edition is a 2-disc affair, with the first disc being a Blu-ray disc containing a high-definition transfer of the film along with a raft of extras in high and standard definition. The second disc is the standard-definition disc for the film, which includes the film in standard definition, and a small number of the extras available on the Blu-ray. Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the Blu-ray disc, including pocket BLU, My Scenes, an online ticker and trailers, as well as uHear and a menu activator. As a special bonus for buyers of the Blu-ray, you can log in to Universal’s BD-Live with the disc in your machine and stream one of two movies for free: Pitch Black and Tremors. A digital copy of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is also available online, and a card included in the packaging will give you an access code to enable the download.
VIDEO QUALITY 4/5
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer that really shines when it comes to the video-game fight sequences, particularly the “Battle of the Bands” where the animated monsters attack each other. The transfer also does well with the various primary colors of Ramona’s hair as it shifts from electric red to blue to green. I have seen some online opinions that the transfer has issues – I certainly did not see any problems. Some parts of the film are intentionally drab, which sets them apart from the wilder sequences around them. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 4 ½/5
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is presented in a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish. There is also an English Descriptive Visual Service track available. The DTS-HD mix is a lot of fun, ranging from some quieter dialogue moments to the sonic attack of the rock performances and the fights. The onscreen bass battle between Cera’s Scott Pilgrim and Brandon Routh’s Vegan superhero bass player rocks the house through the speakers. And the battle of the bands with the animated monsters is equally well-presented in the sound mix.
SPECIAL FEATURES 4 ½/5
The Blu-Ray presentation of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World comes packed with extras. There are two discs in the package – one Blu-ray and one standard definition disc, which really is just the SD DVD for the same title. The Blu-ray disc comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, as well as pocket BLU, and some new color-coded functionality. The Blu-ray disc contains no less than four commentaries, a passel of deleted and alternate scenes, a blooper reel, and a fair amount of behind-the-scenes featurettes and footage, not to mention trailers, a trivia subtitle track, and a U-Control feature that allows the viewer to see storyboards for the onscreen scene as it plays out. The Blu-ray disc also includes via BD-Live the option to stream Pitch Black or Tremors for free once you log in, or to access an additional music video and a brief featurette online. If I have any reservations about any of the extras here, it’s just that the additional commentaries don’t always add a lot, and the fourth commentary really feels like a fifth wheel here.
Feature Commentary with Edgar Wright, Michael Bacall and Bryan Lee O’Malley – This scene-specific commentary is the best one to watch for fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic books, and for anyone interested in the story both in the movie and behind the scenes. Wright gets O’Malley to talk about the autobiographical origins of the work, as well as the Toronto setting. When the closing scene comes up, there’s an extensive discussion about how the ending was changed and re-shot, and about how many writers were involved, including the three talking here, and even a contribution by J.J. Abrams.
Feature Commentary with Edgar Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope– This scene-specific commentary covers the way Wright and DP Bill Pope filmed the movie, including notes about how the camera is constantly moving, and about the deliberate simplicity of many of the images.
Feature Commentary with Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong and Brandon Routh – This scene-specific commentary is the higher-end cast discussion on the disc, in which the leads of the film, and the two biggest cameo performers offer their impressions and opinions about how the film was made. This commentary is notable for the recollection during the closing sequence that apparently a drunk driver drove into the middle of the filming location and nearly crashed into the video village.
Feature Commentary with Anna Kendrick, Kieran Culkin, Mark Webber and Aubrey Plaza – This scene-specific commentary includes four more cast members talking through a screening of the film. This one is not as interesting as the primary cast commentary, and it’s even announced that the group here is recovering from the premiere of the film the night before this taping session. Discussions of hangovers abound during the opening minutes, which usually is not a good sign for a rewarding commentary track...
Deleted Scenes (27:12 Total, 1080p) – A generous number of deleted scenes are presented here in high definition, including the original ending for the film, which got changed after the preview audiences objected to it. (I have to admit that the original ending is probably more realistic, albeit more downbeat.) The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function, and can be played with or without a commentary track by Edgar Wright.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the Bloopers (9:42, 480p, Anamorphic) – The usual array of bloopers are presented here, although I admit it’s a lot of fun to watch Alison Pill and Mary Elizabeth Winstead crack up when scenes go horribly wrong. And Edgar Wright takes a fiendish delight in showing just how many takes it took to get a shot of Michael Cera pitching a package over his shoulder into a trash can. I’ll give a hint – the number can be found on the back of every bottle of Rolling Rock beer…
The Making of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – (49:33 total, 1080p) This making-of documentary is broken into two parts, and includes all the usual on-set footage, interviews and mutual compliments. I’m not sure why it was broken into two parts, other than to keep the length of each part under 30 minutes.
Music Featurette – (16:27, 480p, Anamorphic) This featurette is probably the most interesting one on the disc. It covers the creation of the various songs heard in the film, and the training of the cast to look convincing as rock musicians. I didn’t realize until watching this featurette that Beck had actually written all of the songs played by Sex Bob-Omb. (Which actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it) There’s also material about the cast music practices, and the work of Chris Murphy, who spent a fair amount of time onset supervising the musical performances, and synched playing.
You Too Can Be Sex Bob-Omb! – (2:42, 480p, Anamorphic) This brief bit has Chris Murphy teaching Mark Webber (and any budding guitar player watching it) how to play the chords of one of the Beck-penned Sex Bob-Omb songs. Handy illustrations of the various chords are included for viewer and player reference.
Alternative Edits (12:21, 480p, Anamorphic) – Extensions to various scenes are shown here, usually including an extra line here and there, or an extra reaction. Much of the time here is taken up with showing the material leading up to the one extra line.
Bits & Pieces (6:51, 480p, Anamorphic) – Here we have a feature that reminds of nothing so much as the Judd Apatow “Line-O-Rama” idea, where we see multiple ad-libbed lines offered for various shots in the movie, including put-downs by Brandon Routh and wisecracks by Michael Cera.
Pre-Production (1:27:32 total, 480p, Anamorphic) – What we’ve got here is a collected total of another 90 minutes of material, encompassing multiple aspects of the pre-production process. This includes a first section that holds a series of animatics, camera tests, motion capture footage (of Cera and Wong doing their interactive video game), storyboards, musical recording sessions and the footage of the “Cold Call” movie starring the evil ex played by Chris Evans. The next section includes another batch of animatics, primarily for the multiple fight and concert sequences. A third section includes rehearsal videos for various scenes. A fourth section is a props/rigs/sets montage. A fifth section includes the audition readings done by various cast members, including Mae Whitman as Roxy. The final section presents some hair and makeup test footage for the looks seen on the cast in the film.
Music Videos (9:47 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – Four music videos are presented for the various songs heard in the film, primarily by Sex Bob-Omb.
DJ Osymyso Remixes (9:27 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – Six short video remixes by DJ Osymyso of the songs from the film are included here.
VFX Before and After (14:37, 480p, Anamorphic) – This is a collection of shots from the film, showing what things looked like with and without the CGI augmentation. The shots are narrated by VFX Supervisor Fraser Churchill. If anything, this collection shows not only how audacious some of the shots obviously were, but also how many very subtle changes were made.
Roxy Fight/Ribbon Version (1:11, 480p, Anamorphic) – Here we have an alternate version of the fight sequence with Mae Whitman’s character, Roxy. In this version, she uses a special, knife-edged ribbon as a weapon, while Ramona battles her with something resembling Thor’s hammer.
Phantom Montage: High Speed Footage (3:47, 480p, Anamorphic) – A montage of slow-motion shots from the various fights are included here. And this is pre-CGI augmentation, so you’ll see the blue-screen and blue-clad people helping the characters fly when appropriate.
Soundworks Collection: Sound for Film Profile (5:43, 480p, Anamorphic) – This featurette focuses on the sound effects. I don’t know if I’d call it a “mini-documentary”, but it does cover its topic nicely.
Theatrical Trailers (5:35 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – Three theatrical trailers for the movie are included here in standard definition.
TV Spots (8:16 total, 480p, Anamorphic) – 18 television ads for the movie are included here in standard definition.
Videogame Trailers (4:50 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – Four trailers for videogames based on the movie are included here. They really look like throwbacks to the older NES/Double Dragon look that the movie deliberately bases itself upon.
Adult Swim: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation (3:48, 480p, Anamorphic) – This is an animated prequel to the movie, showing the prior relationship of Scott Pilgrim with his future drummer Kim. Michael Cera and Alison Pill reprise their roles to provide the voices for this piece.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Censors (4:11, 480p, Anamorphic) – This is a series of alternate versions of shots from the film, with the profanity or objectionable language replaced. Unlike Scarface, where this idea was clearly done with bad dubbing, in this case, I think we’re looking at alternate takes done while filming the theatrical versions of these shots.
Edgar Wright’s Production Blogs (45:46 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – This is a series of video blogs made by Edgar Wright during the production process. There’s a total of 15 blogs here - I believe that 12 of them were previously available online. 3 of them appear to be new “bonus” making-of blogs.
Galleries – A series of 12 galleries are presented here, including many behind-the-scenes photos, as well as Edgar Wright’s “Photo a Day” blog photos, as well as conceptual art, a comparison with Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original comic books, and storyboards, including an artist’s rendering of the original closing battle of the movie – between Scott Pilgrim and a “Mecha Gideon”.
Trivia Track – This subtitle track essentially offers a fifth commentary, giving the names of songs heard on the soundtrack, and various bits of trivia about the characters and action onscreen.
U-Control– While watching the film, there is also a U-Control option available, which allows the viewer to see storyboards via picture-in-picture for the current scene as it plays out.
BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. There are three special elements available here, specific to this Blu-ray:
“Violent Game” by Gorgeous Got a Gun – (720p, DTS 2.0 sound) This is a music video for a song by the Los Angeles rock band Gorgeous Got a Gun, incorporating footage from the movie. This band apparently won the Indie Rock vs. The World competition and thus is featured here.
Toronto Loves Scott Pilgrim (480p, Anamorphic) – This is a very brief featurette covering the idea of filming this movie in Toronto, the hometown of author Bryan Lee O’Malley. There’s a brief interview with Michael Cera, and a rundown of the various local food places and clubs featured in the comic books and in the film. Almost all of this material repeats quotes we have already heard in the “Making of” featurette.
Free Movie Download – For a limited time, buyers of this Blu-ray can also stream either Pitch Black or Tremors for free.
My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.
pocket BLU– The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps and social networking are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.
D-Box– D-Box functionality is included for viewers who have this equipment at home.
Credits– Credits are provided for the team that put all of this stuff into the package…
The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish. The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu. Further, when you first put the Blu-ray in the player, you’ll get a reminder about the BD-Live movies now available to you via streaming. Various trailers from BD-Live will appear when you activate the disc, including Get Him to the Greek, Robin Hood, Psycho, Back to the Future, and the usual Universal Blu-ray trailer.
The standard definition disc in the package has an SD transfer of the movie, and a few of the same special features from the Blu-ray, all of which are included in 480p Anamorphic picture.
The movie itself is presented in a 1.85:1 Anamorphic transfer, with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, French and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish, along with the trivia subtitle track and one subtitle track for one of the commentaries – the one with Michael Cera. The picture and sound for the standard definition DVD are quite good, but when seen back to back with the Blu-ray, the HD transfer simply kicks the SD transfer’s rear end.
The standard definition disc includes all four of the commentaries, along with the deleted scenes (now in standard definition, of course), the bloopers, the trivia subtitle track, the photo/art galleries and the credits section.
Digital Copy – A digital copy of the film is not included on either disc in this package, but one is available for download at the Universal website, provided you have the code included in a little insert in the disc holder.
IN THE END...
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a movie that I enjoyed watching, but which I realize has a strong potential to polarize its audience. At heart, it’s a good movie, and this Blu-ray is positively loaded. The transfer and the special features are enough for me to recommend it to viewers to at least rent to have the experience. Fans of Edgar Wright and Michael Cera have no doubt already bought this – but if they haven’t, I hope I can encourage them to do so..
November 13, 2010.