As someone who has studied film academically since 2009, with a particular focus on Contemporary British Cinema, Edgar Wright (this month is aptly titled FEBgar Wright) is someone who has made a big impression on me. For January’s post on Michael Mann, I had only watched one of his films. Edgar Wright; as director, writer, producer and actor, has collaborated on 13 full length feature films of which I’ve managed to see 6… A much better percentage that poor Mr Mann!
The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy or “The Cornetto Trilogy” or “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” might be an obvious choice to focus on for a post on Edgar Wright. But these films, made up so much of my Film Studies A Level. They really do hold a special place in me, and are still Edgar Wright’s best work to date.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Off the back of the success of cult TV show Spaced (1999-2001), director Edgar Wright and actor best friends Simon Pegg and Nick Frost ventured into one of the greatest gifts to British Comedy Cinema since my own beloved Carry On film series. Falling snuggly into the hybrid film genre of “Zom-Rom-Com”, the film focuses on Shaun (Simon Pegg), an unambitious shop assistant for an electronics store. He lives with layabout best friend Ed (Nick Frost) and uptight Pete who strongly disapproves of Ed sponging off them both.
Shaun also has a strained relationship with his step-father Phillip. Within the first 10-15 minutes or so, we see Shaun’s girlfriend Liz break up with him due to his immaturity. Not to mention the fact they spend every night in local pub ‘The Winchester’ without doing anything new. He’s lazy, he’s never done anything notable in his life, he would never fight for her… That’s all about to change with a zombie apocalypse swiftly taking over the world.
Just’a one Cornettooooo….
Shaun of the Dead is a cracking film, filled with references and in-jokes to zombie and horror movies gone by. Filtered through the snappy and satirical British Comedy where the underdog can, and will, defeat the higher power. The film’s use of kinetic, high-octane editing would turn making breakfast into action-movie territory with it’s visuals, and would set the pace for the other films to follow suit. Shaun of the Dead is widely recognised as the best out of all of the films, both in terms of story and technically (mise-en scene, editing, cinematography, etc.)
I would agree that it is the most superbly shot and put together of all of the films. It tells the story beautifully and I couldn’t ask for anything more. However, I must have watched this film about 20 times, picking apart the costumes, how Shaun resembles John Mcclane from Die Hard (1988), and counting every zombie movie reference until the cows come home. I don’t think I could stand watching it again!
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Without a doubt, one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. Apparently taking influence from hundreds of different action films, the references were subtle and paved the way for Hot Fuzz‘s own fresh, new ideas. Police Constable Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is perfect example of a perfect police officer. When he’s offered a promotion to Sergeant on the condition that he moves to the sleepy village of Sandford Gloucestershire just after his girlfriend breaks up with him (a running theme perhaps…?) he plunges into country living.
When he arrives, his new Police station colleagues (including Nick Frost) are more than a bit too relaxed towards their duties as law enforcers because Sandford is such a “safe” village. But Nicholas gets suspicious when the crime rate in Sandford is so low, and the accident rate is so high…
My favourite film in the trilogy by far. It is laugh-out loud funny in the cleverest, best way possible. The word gags, the innuendos… Again, the underdogs rising to the challenge and believing in themselves enough to beat a higher power and to get the job done. Aren’t all of the best British comedies following this pattern?
The World’s End (2013)
The last film in the trilogy. Gary King (Pegg) is a goth-looking man-child who hasn’t been able to accept adulthood. He has lost contact with all four of his college friends, (the fantastic cast of Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman). Reaching a midlife crisis, he manages to get the reluctant band back together to relive a legendary pub crawl they had a failed attempt at back in ’90 when they were 18. But the town they grew up in isn’t quite the same…
Hilariously, Edgar Wright has stated that his Cornetto Trilogy is not dissimilar to the Polish film maker Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colours Trilogy (1993-1994). But to me, that’s not such a stretch and such an absurd thing to say. Why shouldn’t the films be held in such high regard like the Three Colours Trilogy? But I will say something: I’m not the biggest fan of The World’s End. In fact, I went to see it at the cinema when I was working in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and I just wasn’t impressed at all. I didn’t laugh once. And after the hilarity of Hot Fuzz, I was expecting more. However, it’s been a number of months since my last viewing and with such lower expectations, I decided to give it another watch.
Three is a Magic Number
Like Shaun of the Dead, is technically and audiovisually sound. I can generally tell when a film’s plot is well structured, the characters are well formed and are a perfect fit for the style of the film, and all of these boxes are ticked for The World’s End. But where were the references to Sci-Fi and Alien films? They’re probably there, but I didn’t get one. With Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, they were much easier to spot. And I still didn’t laugh out loud in this film either which I am still annoyed about. But ultimately, it’s tricky to hit the spot every time for every audience member, so I’ll give Edgar Wright credit where credit’s due.
As far as British film makers are concerned, I don’t believe the Ant Man debacle (in which Wright left the director’s chair after alleged creative differences) will hinder Wright’s success in Hollywood and I sincerely believe we’ve not seen the last of him yet by a long shot.
Blood and Ice-Cream Explained
Blood because all three films feature violent attacks by an enemy group and Ice Cream because the strawberry cornetto flavour features in Shaun of the Dead because of the Zombie attacks, the original chocolate nutty flavour with it’s blue wrapper features in Hot Fuzz because of the blue Police theme, and the mint chocolate chip flavoured cornetto with a green wrapper was a tip of the cap to Alien and Sci-Fi genres… allegedly… but that last one seems like a bit of a stretch if you ask me…
What are your thoughts on the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy? Which is your favourite? Or, do you prefer other Edgar Wright films such as Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010) or perhaps his abilities as a writer in The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) or Paul (2011)?