Recently I posted about how M. Night Shamylan’s ‘The Last Airbender’ was a terrible adaptation. This was due to multiple things but most were born out of the fact that the source material didn’t lend itself towards being a 90 minute movie. Edgar Right’s ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ however, is an almost perfect adaptation of an already amazing graphic novel series. Not to slate Michael Dimartino and Brian Konietzko at all, but their source material wasn’t fit to work in movie form like Bryan O’malley’s Scott Pilgrim was.
First of all, this movie isn’t perfect, we’ll get to that in a second as it perfectly sums up one of the main flaws of adaptations. However, 95% of this film is a perfect adaptation. It has everything an adaptation should have: A similar aesthetic, eater eggs to please the fans of the original (of which there are many) and it doesn’t require the viewer to be familiar with the source material.
When reading the cast of this movie, certain actors come across as strange choices. Michael Cera was an amazing choice, having proved his worth in his roles in ‘Juno’ and ‘Superbad’ prior to this film’s release. Aside from that though no one strikes me to much. Mary Winstead acted mostly in horror films to this and Brandon Routh was Playing Superman prior to this film. Quite frankly many of the actors aren’t comedy actors. But whether it’s Edgar Wright’s writing or the characters being so well defined in the graphic novel, the casting is perfect. with Kieran Culkin and Ellen Won playing their roles to perfection.
When I said that a good adaptation should have Easter eggs in it for people who were already fans of the series, this movie’s comic book style lends itself perfectly to that. certain frames are exact rips of the comic and certain non speaking character that aren’t essential to the plot appear in the form of cameos instead, for example the drummer in Envy’s band. In the comic there’s an entire scene about her, but she is not essential to the movie’s main plot so that scene was kept out but the character remained in the background.
One of the main changes this film made was its pacing, the original is spaced over six books and a year in their own timeline, the movie takes place over a weekend, few days maybe. Which makes much more sense in the contents of a film than. Also the book has may different side-stories or B plots to move the story forward in between each of Ramona’s evil exes something the movie doesn’t do at all, otherwise it would be far too crowded.
Another thing that is done to make the film work better within itself, is to change the order of events around slightly. For the most part they stay the same, however Edgar Wright opted to move the scene where Scott gets an ‘extra life’ towards the end of the film rather than have it in the middle like the series does. honestly the series may have made more sense had it been done Edgar Wright’s way. this is also the same for the sword Scott receives near the end of the movie. (quick tangent) so many times in action movies does the hero harbor a new skill in the final scenes and use it to defeat the villain, in this case the new ‘skill’ doesn’t work, which is good writing on O’malley’s part.
the ending of this movie is its one flaw and in all honesty its the fault of the fans and not the writers. to appease the fans Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall, the screenwriters for the film, changed the ending so that it was the same as the book’s ending. If you look at the deleted scenes on the movie you’ll find the original version and, boy is it much better. The problem with the ending of the books is it was written while the movie was still in production. Therefore half of the film was finished without an end point. Quite frankly the new ending doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie and comes out of nowhere.
This is something I’m going to discuss in length in my next post. When screen writers are too afraid to change the source material as they run risk of annoying the fans. Fans should walk into a movie with no bias and not be butthurt when the movie is different as appeasing the fans damages the value of the product sometimes.