Saturday, August 21, 2010

"The Movie's Good; The Comics Are Better"

To the scores of people who have uttered that sentiment about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, allow me to enthusiastically add my voice to your righteous choir. As much as I dug the movie (and let there be no mistake, I mondo dug it - I apologize to those who didn't pick up on the facetiousness of my "usability critique"), I'm now two volumes into the comics and yep: They are funnier, cooler, and generally more satisfying than the film in every way.

There's a lot to sort out, and obviously I haven't gotten to the end so I don't want to go too deep, but it's remarkable both A) how faithful Edgar Wright & company were to the source material but also B) just how much stronger the characterizations are in the books.

For starters, Scott is far from the affable slacker that Michael Cera plays in the film. As his actions throughout the story imply, he's kind of this self-involved twit who over the years has left a trail of emotional wreckage in his wake... the books capture that, and for me, it actually humanizes him and makes me root for him more. I'm not rooting for him to get the girl, I'm rooting for him to realize how blithely he hurts the people he cares about, for him to grow the hell up. I kind of found Cera's Scott to be a bit of a cipher - breezily funny, but a bit unknowable.

Marry me.
Even better, I've already gotten more Kim Pine in just two volumes than I got in the entirety of the film. As much as I loved Alison Pill's version of Kim, I wanted way more of her. Really, we get more of everyone - the comics are far less about super-rad videogame fight sequences and more about being a young person, slacking around, listening to music, finding love and trying to figure out why it's so hard not to hurt other people. The film was drenched in blazing colors, but the comic is printed in rich black and white - that beautifully encapsulates the differences between the two works.

Now of course, I'm not griping about the movie - I fully acknowledge that some tweaks and changes are necessary when adapting a 6-part graphic novel series to a 2-hour movie, and I think that making the film more of an action-comedy was absolutely the right call. In fact, I think it's sort of nice that the film was a bit different from the books, since now I can read them and learn the "complete" story of Scott, Ramona, Kim, Knives and the League of Evil Exes.

Pretty cool that the Pilgrim-vese has given us an awesome comic, a by-all-accounts great videogame, and a rad movie, huh? As Gus Mastrapa points out in his great post at Joystick Division, "We've never been blessed with a better geek cross-media trifecta."

So if you liked the movie, allow me to recommend checking out the books. You can order them from a ton of places online, and there's even an iPhone app that gives you all of them at once. I, for one, can't think of a better way to pass the time on public transportation.

Well, other than sitting next to Kim and talking about stuff that sucks and whatever.
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