Many people say that before you watch any movie adaptation of some written or drawn work, you should check out the original first. In my experience however, I feel like the opposite is true for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the movie. Having seen the movie first (twice actually) before reading the 6 graphic novels, I have a greater appreciation of the movie as an adaptation than when I first saw the film and praised it for being a spectacular cinematic experience on its own. If I were to compare this movie to a smoothie, large delicious chunks of the source material are mixed with a pretty cool soundtrack and score and the cinematic trademarks of director Edgar Wright so that you get a concoction that is much less like a thoroughly liquefied beverage and much more like a yogurt parfait or an Asian shaved ice treat. In short, this is not your generic, run-of-the-mill adapted movie that Hollywood spat out for its summer releases menu; this is a cinematic treat and you will savor it.
Scott Pilgrim himself is a character unto himself and you get to see that as his Precious Little Life (title of first book in the series) unfolds. What most trailers neglect is that before he meets the mysterious anime-hair Ramona, he had a life of pretty much slacking off, jamming in his band Sex Bob-omb, hanging out with his 17-year-old Chinese girlfriend named Knives Chau, which he's doing not for pedophilic reasons but mainly because, as he said, "it's just simple," which is understandable since he was brutally dumped by his girlfriend a year earlier soon after she became a famous indie rocker on her own. If that simple life doesn't seem like good material for a movie, this changes quickly when Ramona Flowers rollerblades into his dreams and thus, becomes the subject of Scott's obsession. For no other reason other than his own curiosity, he finds out more about her, and eventually they share a night cuddling at her house during a snowstorm. This starts a chain of events that leads to a grand video-game inspired, power-of-rock fueled adventure.
Apparently six of Ramona's ex-boyfriends (and one ex-girlfriend during her bisexual phase) had formed a league to simply make Scott's life, and arguably Ramona's life, miserable. The abilities and mannerisms of these people are almost as outlandish and outstanding as some One Piece characters. What I'm grateful to the film for is that it greatly expands on the abilities of the exes, making them more of a threat than what was shown in the comics and thus, much more entertaining to see in action. Matthew Patel, the first evil ex-boyfriend, having already established mystical (slightly demonic) powers from the comics, also had the addition of a Bollywood song and dance in addition to the aforementioned mystical powers. Lucas Lee, the 2nd ex, grew from being a simple nice jerk who was also a skateboarder and movie star, to stealing Naruto's shtick and being a truly mean jerk who was also a skateboarder and movie star. The best change would have to be to the Katayanagi twins, who despite not having a single line of dialogue, became not only a threat to just Scott but to his whole band via musical avatars which took the form of double golden Chinese dragons. Call it a one-scene wonder, but that musical Pokemon fight was so much more of a desired boss battle than the dragged out multiple confrontations from the comic, where the twins are genius robotocists and finally fought for themselves after they had kidnapped Kim Pine (one of Scott's ex-girlfriends, drummer of his band, and one of the best characters in the whole series because of her deadpan snarker status). Todd Ingram, the 3rd evil ex, and Roxy Richter, the 4th, have the least amount of change to their abilities, because you really can't go wrong with vegan-fueled psychic powers and half-ninja (comic description, not mine) teleportation and speed respectively
how they are defeated is changed from the comics however. In Todd's case, Scott has a much more active role in his defeat than in the graphic novels, where he simply cried out he needed an ill-conceived deus ex machina and it happened. Roxy's fight actually cements Ramona's position as a girl worth fighting for. The designated girl fight is because of Scott's moral high ground to not beat up a girl, and it is an incredible fight, set to a sweet techno beat and incorporating fight scenes not only from the series, but also from the mini-story that was published on free comic book day. I feel that the defeat of Gideon, the 7th evil exboyfriend, in the film wasn't as satisfying as his come-uppance in "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour," but it is an enjoyable final boss fight, incorporating a skill from earlier in the film that most people wouldn't think would help defeat an evil dude.
What I really like about this film as an adaptation is that there are several lines and scenes in the film that spark déjà vu for people who have read the graphic novels. While some of the more hardcore of the fans will call shenanigans on changing the Ramona vs. Envy fight into the Ramona vs. Roxy fight, or the spilled-hot-cocoa-on-crotch scene in a phone call not between Scott and his sister Stacey but between Scott and Gideon, I refer once again to the genius of making the movie more like a parfait than a blended-up adaptation smoothie. In switching some scenes and dialogues up so that bits and pieces of the comics make it into the 2-hour long movie, casual movie-goers can appreciate the fullness of the comics in such a simple little package, and the fans of the comics who went to see the movie would be able to laugh even harder than the casual movie-goer because they knew the original context of the line or the scene and they'll appreciate how their favorite quote was able to fit into the film. Some fans of the comic will also decry the fact that certain characters never make an appearance in the movie, some more relevant to the plot and drama of the comics, and some just because they're fan favorites. To such outcries I simply pull knowledge I got from the extra features from the WALL-E DVD: keep the focus on the main character. In the case of the Scott Pilgrim movie, the movie does very well in keeping the camera almost always on Michael Cera's goofy and sometimes clueless portrayal of the title character (with one exception to Knives's hair-dying scene). Even though the comic also does that to some extent, there are just some storylines and relationships/interactions that Scott has there that would not fit into the story of "Scott Pilgrim tries to win Ramona Flowers in the limited amount of time the audience's attention span will allow."
One thing that really makes the movie stand out on its own when compared to the comics is the same thing that I think makes the Bleach anime much more enjoyable (at first) than the manga: the soundtrack. In Bleach, the presence of an opening theme and an ending theme was great for establishing a mood, the 2nd opening theme in particular was great for pumping up the audience into expecting a great fight-laden shonen anime. Almost every bit of background music in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is great for setting a mood. The trailer alone used an infectiously great song from the Prodigy called "The Invaders must die," (that sadly does not show up in the film), and Kim Pine shouting out that they are Sex Bob-omb to cue the band's first song and for the title screen and opening credits to start scrolling really gives the message that the audience is in for a rocking cinematic experience. The sound effects were also great for a laugh since a majority of the onomatopoeia visually accompanied the sound effect on the screen, and also, the gamers in the audience would laugh out loud when they hear a familiar sound effect from a video game, notable instances being the ring getting sound from the Sonic games and the loud proclamation of KO from Street Fighter games. The very fact that they made the Universal logo before the film into an 8-bit image with their theme tune seemingly coming from a Nintnedo Entertainment System gives the nerdier members of the audience feel like this movie was created with them in mind.
One of the main gripes people have said about the main character is that he is portrayed as such a dull character, it's almost like he's not acting at all. Of course, most people who say this have no idea that Michael Cera is simply keeping true to the character, and for the people who do know the comics and still say that, I offer another postulate, but that's after a basic rundown of the character. What can be said about Scott Pilgrim the character, the one that exists purely in the pages of the comic? He can be described as a slacker, a rocker, and an unintentional Casanova. But as the story progresses through the books, some people can describe him as insensitive, apathetic about important issues, borderline (if not completely) moronic, but still a good guy with a relatively good heart in him. I personally think that Cera played Scott with not the same kind of manic energy that made the comic character stand out, but maybe that's just how I heard him in my mind as I read. Now for folks who still think the movie version of Scott is a dull person, I postulate the idea that this movie has been described as "the greatest video game movie not about video games." Of course this can be seen with the special effects and the various references to video games sprinkled throughout the film, but this can also be said about the protagonist. If Scott Pilgrim is your avatar through this video game, then all the times he's NOT fighting or defeating evil exes can be described as what happens when YOU the player stop playing. What happens when the console or computer is off? We return to our normal lives, which for the most part, is pretty dull. Our character flaws are more apparent, some of us are inept when it comes to relationships with anybody, and sure as heck, you can't land a 64 hit combo on an opponent in the air without repercussions. Even in the case of the bass battle against Todd Ingram, Scott fails. Playing bass, what Scott's job is and supposedly pretty good at, is a failure when compared to the playing of a professional, which we could probably relate to if we thought we could take on someone who knows how to play guitar with our Guitar Hero skills. Scott Pilgrim is supposed to be who the audience can relate to, and boy does it work.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is an amazing movie. I definitely recommend this film to anyone who has grown up with video games in the early 90s, or to anyone who wants a unique movie experience. For those who love the comics, this movie is definitely full of the original flavor of the comic and should also be recommended to them. And for those who still decry the movie as childish and not truly a cinematic masterpiece, smile, pat them on the back or some other conciliatory gesture while shaking your head, then go punch them so hard you knock the highlights out of their hair.