SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfeld, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Rafe Spall, Bill Nighy
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating: R for zombie violence/gore and language
Worldwide Box Office: $30 million
The film that started it all. Shaun of the Dead became an instant cult favorite upon its release in 2004, and paved the way for Hot Fuzz and The World's End. While I believe Shaun of the Dead is the weakest of the trilogy, it still establishes Wright's directorial style along with the overall style of the Cornetto films. This was Wright's directorial debut, after all.
Shaun of the Dead is the story of Shaun (Simon Pegg), a straight-laced, but unsuccessful man. He's still living with his college buddies Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) and the slacker Ed (Nick Frost). Shaun is romantically involved with Liz (Kate Ashfeld), but his devotion to Ed gets in the way. After suffering a breakup with Liz, Shaun goes out drinking with Ed. The next morning, there are zombies roaming the earth. Shaun must gear up and become "Shaun of the Dead" to save his mother, his girlfriend, and his friends.
Shaun of the Dead is a very funny movie. There were several times during this film that I laughed out loud and several more that made me smile or chuckle. However, in my mind, Shaun of the Dead never reaches the levels of comic hilarity that Hot Fuzz and The World's End do. Plus, the plot sort of hangs there loosely. There's not really a direction to it. It's not gradual like Hot Fuzz, or a Point A to Point B quest like The World's End. It just kind of moves.
The most interesting thing about what I've written so far is that I'm comparing a movie that came out in 2004, to movies that came out in 2007 and 2013. That might be a problem. One of the things that people always say about Shaun of the Dead was how different it was back when it came out. Maybe I didn't like it as much as the other two Cornetto films simply because Wright had tightened up the plot and the character arcs in the sequels, one of which I saw before Shaun of the Dead. I don't know, but I can only write my opinion, and I believe that Shaun of the Dead is the weakest film of the trilogy.
Despite the quality of Shaun of the Dead maybe not being as high as the other two films, there's still a lot to love here. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are two fantastic comedic actors and they excel in this film. The action is funny, and the zombie attacks are ridiculously over the top. Wright is a fantastic director and his style breathes life into the film.
If you watch this film and then watch The World's End, you'll notice some definite similarities. However, Shaun of the Dead ends up being its own beast. It's a very funny movie and one that most people should enjoy. I don't find it as entertaining as Hot Fuzz or The World's End, but to be honest, those films are two comedic masterpieces. Shaun of the Dead is still something very entertaining, inventive, and it's a ton of fun.
THE FINAL GRADE: B+
HOT FUZZ (2007)
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Stuart Wilson, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating: R for violent content including some graphic images and language
Worldwide Box Office: $80.5 million
Shaun of the Dead brought us the comedic talents of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. But Hot Fuzz is the movie that showed us what could be done when those talents are unleashed. Hot Fuzz starts pretty slow, but eventually builds to a conclusion that is like nothing you've ever seen. The film is always entertaining, but the final half hour takes the cake as one of the most entertaining action scenes I've ever seen. Hot Fuzz has everything right. The chemistry between the actors, the way that the movie progresses and the way Wright directs the film. This is an absolutely fantastic comedy across the board.
Hot Fuzz is the story of Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg). Angel is an all-star London cop, but he's so good that everybody else is starting to look bad. Angel is transferred by his superior officers (Steve Coogan, Bill Nighy, and Martin Freeman) to the small town of Sandford. The residents are genial to Angel at first, but when he starts cracking down on their behaviors, the residents become frustrated with him. Angel is partnered with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a bumbling, action movie obsessed partner. However, when a series of "accidents" begin to occur in Sandford, Angel and Butterman must become partners and take down a sinister occurrence in the town.
Hot Fuzz is a film that needs to get warmed up first. The first hour of the movie is consistently entertaining, but never all that funny. However, the first hour sets the stage for the funniest and most ludicrous parts of the movie. It's a terrific feat of plotting that makes Hot Fuzz so fantastic. Not to mention the fantastic direction of Edgar Wright or the terrific chemistry between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
One of the most interesting things about the Cornetto trilogy is that they work as real films as well as parodies. Shaun of the Dead is a funny, yet interesting zombie film on its own. The World's End could stand on its own as a ridiculous bit of sci-fi fun. And most of all, Hot Fuzz is a compelling and entertaining cop film. What I mean to say is that the Cornetto films have dramatic levity behind the parody and that's what I love about them. not to mention that they are ridiculously funny.
Hot Fuzz is led by Pegg and Frost all the way. The two have excellent chemistry here, and the way that the two characters come to like each other is entertaining to watch. Also, the supporting cast is consistently excellent. It's an all-star cast of British actors and they never fail to disappoint. Another interesting thing about Hot Fuzz is how graphic it can get. It's a rather bloody comedy and it features some truly grisly, yet comedic murders.
The final scenes of this movie had me rolling on the floor. The whole movie builds to the point where everything goes crazy, and it doesn't disappoint. All in all, this comes close to the level of The World's End. I think that The World's End is funnier and more consistently entertaining throughout, but Hot Fuzz is a masterful film in its own right. This is a great comedy and one that I could certainly watch over and over again.
THE FINAL GRADE: A
THE WORLD'S END (2013)
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, David Bradley, Pierce Brosnan
Director: Edgar Wright
Rating: R for pervasive language including sexual references
Worldwide Box Office: $46 million
The World's End was the first of the Cornetto films that I watched. I saw it during its theatrical release back in August. I hadn't seen Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, but I wanted to see The World's End because the trailers looked funny and I knew that the other films were cult favorites. I didn't have super-high expectations, but The World's End blew me away. It has drama, insane comedy, and fantastic action. It still does blow me away to this day. It's an absolutely fantastic movie.
The World's End is the story of five childhood friends, led by "fearless leader" Gary King (Simon Pegg). While the other four friends have moved onto adulthood with ease, Gary is still living like he's a teenager. King decides that he's going to get his friends together to finish The Golden Mile, the pub crawl that they couldn't finish as kids. King rounds up his friends Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Oliver (Martin Freeman) and they all go back to their hometown of Newton Haven for a night of drinking. However, not everything is quite how they remember it.
Without a doubt in my mind, The World's End is the funniest of the Cornetto films. Hot Fuzz comes close, but in the end, nothing can quite surpass The World's End. It's a comedic romp from beginning to end, and it's the funniest movie of this year. It's unpredictable, crazy, and endlessly quotable. The World's End is a fantastic movie.
Wright's directing style is in top form here as well. Jokes fly fast and the action is insane. The World's End has a little bit of the paranoia of 1950's sci-fi flicks and it's quite funny. It also deals a lot with nostalgia. Gary King is a character who lives in the past. He thinks that he's still seventeen years old, and he behaves that way throughout the entire movie. The other four characters have to help him move on from his childhood and get to a different stage of his life. These themes help give some seriousness to the film amid all the robot-killing madness.
The cast is also killer. Simon Pegg is let loose as King. In the first two Cornetto films, Pegg was the straight-laced guy. Here, he gets a chance to let loose and essentially switches roles with Frost. Eddie Marsan is a comedic genius in several of his scenes, and is an absolute pleasure to watch. Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy also make welcome appearances in the film. All in all, the entire cast of The World's End is fantastic.
The World's End is filled with nostalgia. It's also filled with jokes, action, and a lot of fun. The way that the plot unfolds and progresses is spectacular. I can't imagine a better end to the Cornetto trilogy than The World's End. It has everything that you could possibly want and more.
THE FINAL GRADE: A+