By Jim Mackney
Edgar Wright appeared seemingly fully formed in 2004 with Shaun of the Dead and has continued to make exciting and engaging cinema ever since. Wright’s films bristle with energy and are composed with visual clarity and a strong focus on wit. Edgar Wright is a thrilling filmmaker that understands genre cinema inside out and uses pure filmmaking techniques that are often ignored in today’s CGI laden landscape. Long live, Edgar Wright!
Films ranked in order of greatness:
Hot Fuzz, the middle film of the Cornetto Trilogy, is Edgar Wright’s best film. It is a film that is so full of love for the movies it is aping, a film that cares so much about it’s cast of goofball characters that it cannot fail but charm anyone that watches it. Taking inspiration from Point Break and Bad Boys II, both of which get intertextual references, the film builds perfectly on the compact nature of Shaun of the Dead and delivers a winning comedy-action tour de force. The jokes are consistently funny, most of which get funnier the more you think about them and the film is responsible for classic lines such as Jim Broadbent’s, ‘A GREAT BIG BUSHY BEARD!’ For all the ridiculousness, you end up caring completely about Danny Butterman and Nicolas Angel, their budding friendship being the warm squidgy center of a film focusing around psychopathic murderous villagers.
At the time of writing Baby Driver has just passed the $100m mark at the box office worldwide, making it the most successful film that Edgar Wright has directed to date. Baby Driver has taken what is synonymous with Wright’s films and brought it to a scale previously unseen in his work. Although still working with independent production company Big Talk Productions, Baby Driver feels like a major studio film at every turn and for the first time, not a film primarily aimed at a British audience. Baby Driver is almost perfectly constructed, more so than any of his previous films (aside from Hot Fuzz). It feels like one long music video and it is relentlessly cool and engaging. The one duff note stopping it from taking top spot? The underwritten written female character, Debora, who sadly shares some of the manic pixy dream girl representations seen in Scott Pilgrim. Baby Driver will allow Wright to go on and make whatever he wants and considering Baby Driver was his long-term passion project, it is exciting to see where he goes next.
Shaun of The Dead
The opening film of the colloquially known Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead took the traditional zombie genre and skewed it with a British sense of humour and set up Pegg and Frost as the hottest new ‘buddy’ duo around. The film stars the great of English small screen comedy, where Wright made his name with Spaced, and offers a whip smart trip through classic zombie movie features whilst keeping them fresh with Wright’s frenetic editing style and liberal use of close ups. The dialogue is fresh, fun and engaging and the film still holds up as a brilliant directorial debut.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Edgar Wright’s third film, adapted from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel source material, sees Wright deliver a film that is mired in manic pixy dream girl tropes and questionable morals. The film focuses on Scott Pilgrim, played by a typically uninvolved performance from Michael Cera, and his life as a rockstar and pursuit Romana Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He has to battle her ‘seven evil exes’ to win her heart. This film is occasionally exciting and interesting but it is like being hit in the face for two hours with a sub-par garage band soundtrack where you follow around a bunch of boring teenagers. The film still leaves me entirely cold but perhaps with a different lead, it would’ve been a success. I am certain however that it is the only film from Wright that feels like a party only a few people are invited too.
The World’s End
The only duff note in the Cornetto Trilogy. This film exists in a state of middle-aged rebellion that doesn’t lend itself well to any of the characters. Frost and Pegg are still a funny duo but the switching of the straight man to Frost and making Pegg the comedic focal point doesn’t work. Pegg tries far too hard and the script is the weakest of all three Cornetto films – it just isn’t funny enough. Many of the supporting characters are excellent in their roles, Paddy Considine in particular, but the film is lumpen and is the only major misstep of Wright’s career. There appears to be little appetite to re-watch this film, it is hardly ever on television, the first two films however are on constant rotation; a sad end after two excellent films.