Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with its poor box office performance and passionate fanbase, is the definition of a cult classic. Based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the 2010 film boasted novel visuals, a cute little plot, and the sharp wit and humor of writer/director Edgar Wright. But as many of the fans of the source material can tell you, as a straight adaptation, it is only passable.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, a Netflix reimagining 13 years later, initially looked like it would tackle this complaint. It did not.
Despite Takes Off being more of an unexpected “what if” reinterpretation of the comic and film, having lower energy and less novelty, it still ultimately has the same spirit and quality as its counterparts.
The entire core cast of the 2010 film returns to voice their animated counterparts, an impressive feat when you consider how many of them have become superstars since then (Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza, to name a few).
The energy and enthusiasm they bring to their roles is somewhat cancelled out by the questionable editing. There is often too long of a gap between when one character stops speaking and another begins, a relatively minor issue that amounts to a perceptively slower pace when it happens back to back.
The energy of Takes Off feels odd because of this, especially when you compare it to the frantic nature of the 2010 film. I sometimes watched the cartoon at 1.25 speed just to speed things up a bit.
And while the animation in Takes Off looks exactly like a moving version of the original comic art there is no denying that the medium makes the new adaptation less novel than the 2010 film, which derived a lot of its charm from the marriage of live-action realism with cartoony violence and tropes. When it’s all a cartoon to begin with it’s just not as unique.
But I suppose these criticisms are only criticisms because I am comparing the new to the old. When taken on its own Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is a whole lot of fun, and it does have a lot of uniqueness and charm to it.
The reworked plot and longer length allow for more focus on the characters themselves, although at eight episodes at 25 minutes each it is still a pretty short watch.
The fight scenes are truly a blast to watch. It could have used some more of that Edgar Wright wit, admittedly (he also returned but only to produce this time around), but the humor still lands when it appears in its less concentrated form.
I have not read the graphic novels but it feels very much like their souls are still intact in the new show, even if the plots are not. Fans of the film and fans of the comic could do much worse than that.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is available in its entirety on Netflix.