Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is finally out on UK DVD and Blu-ray on December 27th. This release in the week between Christmas and New Year has been timed perfectly to eat up HMV Gift Vouchers like a High Street Pac Man.
I've been lucky enough to receive a Blu-ray copy for review, and here are Five Things I wanted to share with you about it.
1. Let's Not Talk About The Film Now
I've deleted my first-draft passage about the film because, if I'm being honest, it was a touch negative and, today, I'm not wanting to unravel the film but instead discuss its Blu-ray. What's more, I was finding it hard to write about the film, for which I do feel some affection, without making it sound like I hate it. Somebody got out of the wrong side of the bed, eh?
Let's just say it's a disappointing film (go back and watch the battle scene in the Cobra Club, count how many of the action moments are stitched together with unnecessary reaction shots and then try telling me it's a technical tour de force again) but I still have a special place in my heart for it, and what it does well, it does really, really well, and then just move on to the rather extraordinary Blu-ray itself. I'll nit pick the film's construction at another time.
2. Sound And Vision
Very few films have translated this well to home video in the past. What's amazing about the video and audio quality of this release is that the picture and sound that need to be translated are, at times, extraordinarily complex. There's a huge width and breadth of textures, colours, brightnesses and contrast schemes in the film, and they've all been reproduced beautifully. As the styles change, sometimes breathlessly, the Blu-ray keeps up effortlessly. A chocolate medallion goes to the back room elves.
As for the sound – crikey. It's a dense track, and shifts as quickly and radically as the video does, and again, the Blu-ray presents the full scope, range and adventure of the audio without missing a step.
I saw some big, high-stakes press screenings of this film, and it never once was projected to the standards of presentation I managed in my own living room just by slipping this disc into a pretty-decent set up.
3. Behind The Scenes
At the heart of the disc's supplements there's a 50-minutes or so documentary on the making of the film that rips through a fair amount of material, and contains a lot of trivia and intriguing behind-the-scenes business. Formally, it's pretty much par for the course, and edits together just the kind of footage you'd expect in pretty much the way you could predict, but there's a lightness and briskness that befits the film well.
I think there are two main reasons this supplement works as well as it does. Firstly, the people who made Scott Pilgrim, the comic and the film, are interesting and rather candid; secondly, they seem to be the kind of people who'd enjoy this kind of special feature themselves, so they're all aware of what they need to do and say and provide to give the viewers what they want.
Made by fans for fans, etc.
4. The Commentaries
It's a law that every Edgar Wright film must come with a goodly number of commentary tracks and after Hot Fuzz gave us a remarkable tally of five, we're back to the Shaun-sized four. Two of them are "creator based", with Edgar Wright pairing with DP Bill Pope on one, strip-creator Bryan Lee O'Malley and co-screenwriter Michael Bacall on the other. I rather liked the track with Pope in particular, though I understand their friendly chattiness was a trade off for density of information.
Tracks three and four featured the cast and the trade off was even further in favour of chat rather than data. All four tracks, however, showcase a cast of characters rather more likeable than those in the film itself.
More to my taste, perhaps, was "the fifth commentary", a Trivia Track. It might have updated more speedily and frequently, but there was a lot of info in there, and especially when played at the same time as an audio track, it more than kept me nibbling away happily.
5. The Bric-a-Brac
Beyond the bigger supplements, there's a lot of smaller pieces. My highlight is Scott Pilgrim vs. The Animation, an adaptation of Scott and Kim's backstory that aired on Adult Swim and puts the feature's actors' voices into the mouths of O'Malley-styled toons. By matching well, they provide yet more evidence of how astutely cast the film was.
There's a great wealth of previz, storyboards and test footage compiled on the disc too. Most of it is focussed on the battles with the Evil-exes which suggests a bias of interest towards hitting things and people blowing up and so on. There are plenty of other sequences in the film that would have required such precise planning, so it's disappointing to see such a hard lean towards the battle scenes. Maybe somebody in planning the disc decided that these are the meat and potatoes of the film, not the gravy. If so, they were very wrong.
In short, this disc is a compelling purchase, even for those of us who, with a gun to our head and asked to bark out a Moviewatch grade for the film, are unlikely to score it above 7. I liked Scott Pilgrim vs. The World rather more than I thought it was a fully successful piece of filmmaking, but I'm genuinely impressed by the technical standards of this disc and, as such, must recommend it fully.
Now. Is it just me, or does anybody else want to watch Shaun of the Dead again right now, to see what Edgar Wright can do when he's on top top top form?