Edgar Wright was born in 1974, and has carved a career for himself through TV with the wonderful Spaced, which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost â€“his most frequent collaborators -short films, and low-budget cult films that have attracted a massive following.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are massive fans of his, and Tarantino has been quoted as saying that his first filmic success Shaun of the Dead is a masterpiece. He has made three films, Shaun and Hot Fuzz on tiny budgets, and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, his first American film, on a budget of $60 million. It didn’t do half as well as his other films in terms of profit, drawing in half the budget in America alone, and only taking $47 million worldwide. Despite this though, I’m sure he’ll go on to bigger and better things.
Shaun Of The Dead
Released in 2004, and very close to the remake of Dawn of the Dead (its release had to be delayed so audiences weren’t confused), this film skewers what we’ve come to expect from zombie films, spoof films, and modern British comedies. It blends an almost kitchen-sink tone with outrageous zombie gore, perfectly likable leads, and fine comic timing. It quickly became a massive cult hit with various catchphrases and one-liners. And even if you haven’t seen the film, you definitely know someone who has.
There is also a case to be made that this is the most realistic zombie film ever made. Shaun is unwaveringly optimistic, and never lets the pressure of the impending invasion get between him and his quest to get his girlfriend back. It combines genuine scares, genuine chemistry (between Shaun and his best friend Ed), and genuinely brilliant direction.
Edgar Wright has built this film around his leads, and perfectly captured that sense of the daily routine. The same shots reappear, to suggest familiarity and being stuck in the same routine, and more often than not the camera is allowed to linger on the gormless face of Shaun. The film makes good use of TV and radio on a low budget, to hint at what is going on in the outside world, while never actually straying from it’s four or five key locations. In short, it is a ‘piece of fried gold’, and it deserves to be seen by everyone.
Part two of the Blood and Ice-Cream Trilogy, this film takes a gripe at classic action films in general, as well as others such as the Wicker Man, Midsomer Murders, and even Shaun itself in one telling joke. It chose a relatively simple murder mystery as its basis, and layered on reference after reference, twist after twist, directorial flourish after directorial flourish, before wrapping it all up in a bow that is homage to the great action flicks it so loves, as well as standing its own with the greats.
This is a very ‘showy’ film, and is often incredibly fast paced and requires your utmost attention to pick out the little details (yes, that really is Peter Jackson as a man dressed as Father Christmas). It is done in a similar style to the early Robert Rodriguez, using fast editing and lots of cutting to create a film that looks busier than it actually is. The characters are perfectly crafted, and the script really nails what we ‘farmers’ actually speak like. It might not have as much heart as Shaun, but it certainly has more pizzazz.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Taking inspiration from a cult graphic novel of the same name, Scott Pilgrim doesn’t comfortably fit into any genre, except maybe a very oddball rom-com, and it is by far and away the most showy of Edgar’s films. It is laden with special effects, most of which are in the style of retro video games, something the film pays homage to throughout. Michael Cera is excellent as the eponymous main character, playing the clueless person to sometimes not very innocent perfection. It is, at heart, a love story, and it is certainly not outside the realms of possibility that he is day-dreaming the whole thing.
This is the most ‘Hollywood-ed’ of his films, and some would argue the busiest film, although I still think that goes to Hot Fuzz. It certainly has the most special effects, but in keeping with his films, the plot is relatively simple (man has to defeat the seven evil-exes of his girlfriend to date her), yet he dresses it up and surrounds it with subplots, and arguably the greatest ensemble of supporting characters ever put together in film. It is undoubtedly an Edgar Wright film, and even includes his trademark editing, which can be noticed by the eagle eyed viewer in one scene.
This was certainly the film he should have broken into America with: why he didn’t remains a mystery.
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