Immediately what hits me about Scott Pilgrim is its style, which is indebted to the source material (which is also brilliant). Normally in a movie like this the story takes backseat to the special effects or action scenes. Quite the opposite here as Wright uses transitions and special effects to make scenes aesthetically pleasing and then uses good writing and acting to bring the scenes home.
To be blunt, anybody who has been Michael Cera act knows he has no range, but this is easily his best leading role and he matches the movie's craziness in spades along with the rest of the cast. Ensembles are hard to pull off and it's even harder to catch the spirit of certain characters especially when adapting a whole series of books, but each minor supporting character is given just enough screentime to make an impression and leave us wanting more.
Both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are great comedies, with the camera work, editing, framing, and everything else they teach you in film school up to par. But what makes Scott Pilgrim better for me is that Wright is freed up from having to stick to a template and can do whatever he pleases. It should come off as indulgent, but Wright uses his creative freedom for good and instead every frame of this movie either has a funny background joke, brilliant foreshadowing, funny dialogue, or simply - for the lack of a better word - something cool.
And for me that's what makes Scott Pilgrim so good. It's lot of posing, but there's a sense of high art to it. I had a similar sense when watching Pulp Fiction or Fight Club of pure creativity harnessed into serving the story, riding a line between indulgence and crowd pleasing. This film is a showcase for Wright's talent and also a celebration of geek culture in a movie that in time, will hopefully be looked upon as the important piece of filmmaking that it is.
Anthony Stokes is a blogger and independent filmmaker.