Gum Swallower

The villains in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World primarily lose to themselves. In this rapid, witty geek fantasy, the shy, quiet Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) doesn’t always use brute force to defeat the caricatured alphas males who once dated his new girlfriend. Scott uses their own egotistical self-professed greatness against them, whether challenging them to show off skateboarding skills or drink non-vegan lattes.

It’s a movie for those who grew up in the pre-geek culture explosion. In Scott’s apartment, there sits a Nintendo NES, a monument to a time when admitting you played videogames led to playground beatings (oddly so, considering nearly every kid had a console). That’s when Scott trudged through grade school, seemingly oppressed by his pop culture idolization, and representing so many who felt the same.

… to get Scott Pilgrim’s most subtle humor requires a back catalog of useless knowledge

Scott Pilgrim is patently absurd, unknowingly demeaning itself by suggesting obsessive comic reading or game playing turns people – but mostly just men – into isolated outcasts. And, to get Scott Pilgrim’s most subtle humor requires a back catalog of useless knowledge. The intent though is to inspire, but again, that’s generally ridiculous because it’s enacting a backlash against itself. This playful world made Scott accepting, quiet, liberal, but overall confused about dating and women.

As Scott avoids violence, flashy visuals indicate his success, treating existence as an actual videogame. In there is a sly jab about how work is drawing ever closer to videogames in using point systems or achievements to give workers a brief dopamine rush; Scott gets lots of those, and even free coins. Best as Scott Pilgrim suggests, his entire job is snagging fallen coins from beaten foes.

The eventual win for Scott isn’t conquering Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) exes, although that’s critical to the message. Nerdy types bemoan women who date jerks/alphas, and to fight them demands a surge of self-confidence. It’s not enough when Scott draws a sword from his chest indicating he’s fallen in love, rather that he must realize his sense of self. Whether that message penetrates through a casually sarcastic, frequently funny, visual blitzkrieg is debatable. And, further so when culture is defined by the geeks. There’s an archaic statement to what Scott Pilgrim is saying a decade on, if preserving what now seems like a surreal fight to simply enjoying things.

Video

Sensational work by Universal that suggests they went back and did a full 4K scan. Sharpness is exceptionally high, the grain tiny, and the detail non-stop. There’s too much for an upscale, at least the pure live action. Visual effects do ding things a bit, but not to any great detriment. Oddly, the second hour begins to introduce inconsistencies. A scene in the bar looks weirdly sharpened. Brie Larson undergoes digital smoothing. It’s enough to knock Scott Pilgrim down a notch.

Flush with color, Ramona’s changing hair displays a brilliant vibrancy. Primaries dazzle all around. Graphic novel elements blast reds, blues, and greens en masse. It’s all spectacle, a stellar example of what deep color can achieve.

Dolby Vision goes bonkers, shoving the deepest possible blacks onto the screen. The intensity is system-testing, never relenting the density. Equally marvelous contrast sustains its peaks, turning Scott Pilgrim into a depth-dealing, extreme pushing HDR masterpiece. In short, perfection.

Audio

Songs bring a room-shaking low-end in this Atmos remix. Their power stretches the disc’s dynamics, a nice set-up for the intense action that follows. Fights deliver a balanced approach, thundering when a killing blow lands, pushing softer jolts when punches need less potency. It’s careful, balanced, and a delight.

Hyper-active design naturally fits into the new audio format, bouncing around speaker to speaker, and missing no chance to showcase some ambiance like winter winds. The soundtrack jumps channels too, making full use of the front stereo split. Active bars create an enveloping atmosphere, concerts building a complete wall of sound – or maybe it’s the bass creating deafening volume. Ramona’s major fight involves a metal whip slicing through the soundstage and it’s truly spectacular.

Extras

The UHD and Blu-ray match each other, replicating some of the deepest, richest bonuses ever committed to the format. Bummer there’s nothing new, but nothing is left to say either. There are a whopping four commentaries here, a bit overdone, but certainly not shy in terms of information. Director Edgar Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall, and author Brian Lee O’Malley are up first. A technical commentary has Wright joining his director of photography Bill Pope. Two additional tracks split the cast in two between key players and supporting characters, rather unneeded.

A total of 21 deleted scenes run 27-minutes, with an alternate ending in that pile. A great blooper reel falls short of 10-minutes, this followed in the menu by a two-part making-of running 49-minutes. A music featurette totals 17-minutes, a brief three-minute lesson on how to play some of the songs next up. Two sections containing unused footage, including improv and other alternate takes, provide some additional laughs.

The section on pre-production is close to 90-minutes, this segmenting into six sections like pre-vis, audition tapes, and make-up tests. Music videos move into three visual effects breakdowns. A featurette about the audio is interesting, and the dozen video blogs provide nice insight into the production over the course of 46-minutes. Adult Swim shorts used for promotion still have some value, and the clips from the edited TV version are priceless.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Scott Pilgrim’s message about earning self-confidence is likely lost amid the references and visuals, but it’s too fun to care.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 53 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: