Director Spotlight: Edgar Wright

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Edgar Wright in a Nutshell:

Inside the chest of Edgar Wright beats the heart of a true film geek. Armed with a Super 8 camera, his teenage years were spent making short films. And at a young age of twenty, he started his foray into the big world of film making with an independent movie called A Fistful of Fingers, a western shoot-em-up spoof that sadly never got a distributor. But it did received a limited theatrical release and a satellite TV broadcast. Despite the flimsy exposure, they were enough to catch the eye of Paramount Comedy Channel and The BBC where he soon found himself directing sketch shows for. But what truly earned him notice is his directorial work for Channel 4’s Spaced, where he joined forces with Jessica Hynes, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This sitcom has become the launching pad for the Wright-Pegg-Frost collaboration that spawned the cult favorite: The Cornetto Trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013).

Opportunity to step out of his cult niche and enter American commercial film consciousness came in the form of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010), an adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series of the same name. Unfortunately, it did not garner enough big box office numbers to make Edgar Wright a household name. Which is a shame because the movie is quite good in my opinion. Another opportunity for commercial success came knocking when Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige announced an upcoming Ant-Man movie at the 2006 San Diego Comic-Con, with Edgar Wright taking the directorial seat. But on March 23, 2014, after more than a decade of working on Marvel’s Ant-Man, news of Wright’s departure as a director broke out. Is Edgar Wright doomed to appeal to only a small but much appreciated cult audience?

Commercial or cult, it’s not the last time we will hear of the name Edgar Wright. He is currently working on a film called Baby Driver. It is about a young getaway driver who relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack, gets tangled with a crime boss and a finds himself in a heist that endangers his love, life and freedom. Lily James and Ansel Elgort has been confirmed to star as the film’s leads. And if “personal soundtrack” means anything? Edgar Wright KNOWS his music.

Why I Love Edgar Wright and His Movies:

Edgar Wright is a comedy film maker with a distinct style. You will know an Edgar Wright movie when you see it. What sets him apart is his focus on the visual stylistics in delivering a joke and/or parts of the story. And I don’t mean people slipping on a banana peel or getting conked on the head with a flower pot. I mean, cinematography. The editing and the framing speak volumes, as much as the dialogue does. You get crash zooms, whip pan transitions, quick cuts, all made in a wonderfully hyperkinetic and inventive manner. This is not to say he short changes the dialogue or the characters. Because he doesn’t. For The Cornetto Trilogy he co-wrote the scripts with Simon Pegg and it is filled with layered and smart jokes, and characters that are relatable.

Let me just say that The Cornetto Trilogy aren’t parodies. They don’t duplicate, but rather reconstruct and subvert classic genres and its tropes. It’s more of a homage really to the horror, buddy-cop and sci-fi films of yore.

And just a little background: The three films can be treated as stand-alones, with storylines independent of each other. But they do have shared themes. They particularly touch upon the whole individual versus the collective. And the protagonist (either Pegg or Frost) tends to be a man frozen into boyhood, having difficulty coming to terms with being a grown up. And like I said, it has whip smart dialogue, relatable characters, funny jokes and that Edgar Wright vitality.

Edgar Wright Movies Ranked:

1. Shaun of the Dead (2004) – So we have Shaun, a hapless electronics shop employee with no direction in life, and is experiencing strained girlfriend, friend and family relationship, on top of having to deal with a zombie apocalypse.

What I love about this movie is that it’s not just a funny horror flick. Shaun of the Dead gave rise to a whole new genre called the ZomRomCom. So you get love and laughter and the undead all in one package. It’s funny, frightening and heartwarming all at the same time. I am quite surprised at how great a dramatic actor Simon Pegg is. He brings much the emotional depth to Shaun that any audience will find themselves rooting for the guy.

Favorite scene: The Plan

2. Hot Fuzz (2007) – Nick Angel is a top performing London constable, he is so good at is job, he makes everyone look bad. Hence he was transferred to the sleepy countryside town of Sandford. And just when he thinks it’s a boring place with nothing but bake sales and tea parties, a series of accidents start to happen. Accidents that might not be accidents after all.

In Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright as an action director is brought to my attention. He is great in directing comedy, that one has been established. But you know what else he’s good at? Directing amazing action sequences. Hot Fuzz has lots of them. They take all these buddy-cop tropes and elevate them to hilarious possibilities, while being absolutely serious about it too. Put this side by side with any action flick and you will see how much it holds its own.

Favorite scene: Sandford Square Battle

3. Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010) – Adapted from an award-winning graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is about a garage band bass guitarist slacker named Scott who in order to date the girl of his dreams, has to defeat her seven evil exes in legendary battles.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World is like a video game come to life. The whole idea of creating a live-action movie that resembles or has elements of a video game seems like a slippery slope. Just ask the people who watched Pixels. Ha. Anyway, compared to The Cornetto Trilogy, the CGI is amped way up (Wright probably had a larger special effects budget to work with on this one) but put to excellent use. The epic battles are visual spectacles to behold. It is a feat how they synchronized the special effects with the amazingly, stylized choreography. And oh, it has a rocking soundtrack too.

Favorite Scene: Chaos Theater Level One

4. The World’s End (2013) – Here we have Gary King, a bit of a has been trying to relive his glory days by rounding up his best mates in an attempt to finish the pub crawl they made twenty years back, only to be thwarted by an alien invasion.

This final installment in The Cornetto Trilogy, while I find it messier and more heavy-handed than the first two, is still very enjoyable. Simon Pegg as Gary King is perhaps what I loved most about this movie. His performance here is reminiscent of what I saw in Shaun of the Dead. And because the whole idea of Gary King having difficulty letting go of his buddies and his memories, mirrors the audience’s feelings. This is the last film. The end of the trilogy. And letting go is tough on the fans as much it is on the creators.

Favorite scene: The Bathroom Fight

If you haven’t seen any of these movies, there’s still time! And I assure you it is a visual comedy like no other.  Okay, so who’s excited for Baby Driver?

To know more about Edgar Wright check out his official blog: Edgar Wright Here

2 thoughts on “Director Spotlight: Edgar Wright

  1. Two from The Cornetto Trilogy are already in my watchlist but I skipped Shaun of the Dead because of the zombies. Hahaha! But your post convinced me to want to watch them all. I even want to rewatch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World; your favorite scene in it was very fun to watch.


    • Lily! Yay! Do watch them all! Don’t skip Shaun of the Dead! I used to be squeamish about zombies but not anymore. At least, not as much as before. Besides, If you watch a lot of them, you’ll eventually get desensitized. Trust me. LOL. Scott Pilgrim is great! It’s baffling and sad that it turned out to be a box office bob-omb.


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