Sunday, October 24, 2010

the two scott pilgrims

I want to write a review of 'Scott Pilgrim', having recently read the graphic novels after watching the movie, but it's hard to find something to say other than "I loved it!" But I will give it a go, because after all it is a rainy Sunday afternoon, Andrew is at work and if I finish reading my current book I will immediately want to write about it instead.

Scott Pilgrim is a 23 Canadian slacker, in a band but without a job, sharing a bed with his gay flatmate, Wallace (who has a job and therefore foots most of the bills) and dating a 17-year-old high-school girl named Knives Chau, when Ramona Flowers (an American delivery girl) enters his dreams and he becomes infatuated and falls in love with her. In order to date her, he must break up with Knives and defeat Ramona's seven evil exes (hard to say which task he finds more difficult, though defeating the exes is more time consuming). It's a story about love, emotional baggage and growing up. A couple of months ago I watched the movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (directed by Edgar Wright), and last week I read the graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe and Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (by Bryan Lee O'Malley).

Whether you read the book or watch the movie first, encountering adaptations is always strange. Everything is so familiar until something comes out of left field and subverts your expectations. In this case everything starts off very much the same, but the book and movie increasingly diverge, a fact partially explained by the fact that the movie was optioned after the release of the very first book, and largely completed before the last was released. Apparently the film ending was going to be different but they changed it at the last minute to match more closely to the book. But I did not feel that all this spoilt my enjoyment of the books at all- for the simple reason that I liked them better than the movie. 

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the movie. It was a lot of fun, they translated the comic-book/video-game sensibility really well to the screen and the story was told well. But the limitation of a movie is that it just doesn't have as much space and time in which to tell that story as, in this case, a 6 book series (even if they are very short). Things made more sense in the book, even though the movie has a neater narrative structure, and there was a lot more room to expand on the rest of the characters, as well as on Ramona and Scott's relationship. Plus I liked the Kim Pine character, and she seems to have more space in the books. I just found the books more satisfying than the movie. At the end of the movie I turned to Andrew and he was clearly blown away, he thought it was the best thing ever. I enjoyed it, but I didn't really get that (maybe because he is more of a gamer than me, so he really loved those references). But at the end of reading the books I just wanted to turn around and read them again. 

Things aren't easy for Scott and Ramona, and their relationship isn't perfect, but at the end of the last book I was left with a warm glow and a feeling that they had both grown as characters. I haven't had so much fun with a book in a long time, and I haven't read any graphic novels for ages, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. A worthy addition to the book-shelf!


  1. That's awesome! I haven't read the books, but I enjoyed the movie (although I had some reservations and didn't get all the gaming references either).

  2. Well if you want to borrow them- I have them all! :)
    What were your reservations about the movie?