Category Archives: Directed by Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright)

In terms of emotional depth, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World comes in a little below the average John Hughes teen picture. Supposedly Scott Pilgrim is about a listless twenty-something… but with Michael Cera playing the lead, it definitely feels about that deep.

Cera’s not bad, but he’s playing the same role he’s played since “Arrested Development.” Opposite Ellen Wong, who plays his high school aged girlfriend who he wrongs, he works. Opposite Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the object of his affection… well, she’s actually acting. So it doesn’t work.

It’s unfortunate Edgar Wright felt the need to “faithfully” adapt the comic book, because there’s a decent story without it and it’s unfortunate he wastes a lot of good performances on a gimmick movie.

Neither of the “superhero” cameos–Chris Evans and Brandon Routh–are bad (both are really funny). But they’re also both useless. All of the fight scenes are boring–the movie’s only interesting for a moment at the end, when it’s clear Cera and Wong have more chemistry and it seems like Wright would have noticed and figured something out to utilize it. Big shock, he doesn’t.

But the great performances–Kieran Culkin, Mark Webber, Alison Pill–are the straight supporting roles. And Wright wastes them.

Then there’s Jason Schwartzman. Schwartzman’s performance is so one note, he makes Cera look deep. The movie nosedives once he shows up.

The movie’s got its funny moments and Wright is, technically, a fine, imaginative director.

Shame the script’s completely unimaginative.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Edgar Wright; screenplay by Michael Bacall and Wright, based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley; director of photography, Bill Pope; edited by Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss; music by Nigel Godrich; production designer, Marcus Rowland; produced by Eric Gitter, Nira Park, Marc Platt and Wright; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers), Kieran Culkin (Wallace Wells), Chris Evans (Lucas Lee), Anna Kendrick (Stacey Pilgrim), Alison Pill (Kim Pine), Brandon Routh (Todd Ingram), Ellen Wong (Knives Chau), Aubrey Plaza (Julie), Mark Webber (Steven) and Jason Schwartzman (Gideon Graves).


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Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright)

So, people told me Shaun of the Dead was good, but they kept describing it as something akin to Hot Fuzz and whatnot. It’s not a spoof of a zombie movie though. It’s a zombie movie with a couple losers discovering their skill sets make them good at surviving a zombie holocaust, if not excelling at it.

Actually, it’d be kind of easy to describe Shaun of the Dead as Clerks with zombies. Maybe too easy? I’m not sure. Wright’s a far better director than Kevin Smith, creating this intense atmosphere the audience can feel while the characters are a little too dull to figure out what’s going on. Where the film hits gold is making Simon Pegg both a bit of a twit and also a character for the audience to identify with. He’s actually the only male character in the film who doesn’t have a serious defect (Nick Frost is a drunken loser, Peter Serafinowicz is a yuppie jerk, Dylan Moran is an ass, Bill Nighy is a jerk) and so it’s not really surprising how Lucy Davis occasionally gives him the bedroom eyes. It’s not mentioned (Kate Ashfield plays Pegg’s love interest to far less effect, but it might be because Ashfield’s character is just written as the annoyed girlfriend… much like, you know, Clerks).

The film’s hilarious from the start and keeps a nice air of unpredictably about it. Zombie films feature this ragtag cast of characters, thrown together, but not Shaun. It’s far more… realistic.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Edgar Wright; written by Simon Pegg and Wright; director of photography, David M. Dunlap; edited by Chris Dickens; music by Dan Mudford and Pete Woodhead; production designer, Marcus Rowland; produced by Nina Park; released by Focus Features.

Starring Simon Pegg (Shaun), Kate Ashfield (Liz), Nick Frost (Ed), Lucy Davis (Dianne), Dylan Moran (David), Peter Serafinowicz (Pete), Bill Nighy (Philip), Jessica Hynes (Yvonne) and Penelope Wilton (Barbara).


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A Fistful of Fingers (1994, Edgar Wright)

As low-budget, semi-amateur films go… A Fistful of Fingers is on the low-end. It’s certainly not as accomplished as Desperado in terms of visual storytelling, it doesn’t have enough narrative content to fill its eighty minutes (like Clerks) and it appears just a little bit cheaper than The Evil Dead. Edgar Wright apparently spent most of his budget in the first twenty or so minutes, when his Man With No Name rip-off goes through a small English town. The film’s best when it’s playing with traditional genre conventions and that entrance and few moments in town are the film’s best, not just in terms of humor, but also in Wright’s direction. He does far better in an enclosed outdoor space then when he’s in the English wilds.

The other major problem with the rest of the film is “leading man” Graham Low. Low’s not just too amateurish to be convincing or too young, it’s his Clint Eastwood impression. It’s terrible. The second half of the film is filled with easy gags, countless references (from Lethal Weapon to Glengarry Glen Ross) and an incredibly lame story about Low and his new Indian friend, poorly played by Martin Curtis.

The beginning of the film, from the cutout animated opening credits, to the various Leone references, is genuinely witty. The second half, with Curtis and then another useless second sidekick coming in right before the end, is a bore. The only funny part in the second half is the homage to the camp in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Unfortunately, any points Wright earns with it are spent making up for the Three Stooges references.

From the beginning, I expected Fingers to be better than it was–but at least the English countryside films well.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Edgar Wright; director of photography, Alvin Leong; edited by Giles Harding; music by François Evans; production designer, Simon Bowles; produced by Daniel Figuero; released by Wrightstuff Pictures.

Starring Graham Low (Walter Marshall), Martin Curtis (Running Sore), Oli van der Vijver (The Squint), Quentin Green (Jimmy James), Amy Bowles (Yanks with a Fist) and Nicola Stapleton (The Pint-Sized Hussy).


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Hot Fuzz (2007, Edgar Wright)

I was going to start this post off with a mention I had no idea spoof movies were back–then I realized I just hadn’t been partaking in them (I’m thinking the Scary Movie series and whatever else the Brothers Weinstein squeeze out between Oscar-lusts). Hot Fuzz is a technical spoof for the most part–though I think there are a lot of Bad Boys II and Point Break references–with lots of fast cuts, fast pans, rapid montages. There’s a good deal of Lethal Weapon references, as well as Terminator 2 ones. Hot Fuzz‘s most admirable trait–its ability to keep with this crap and ride it through–is also the most irritating. There’s little actual content beyond these technical references–except, there should be, because Hot Fuzz has a great cast. With a handful of exceptions–the 1970s-looking detectives make no sense–the supporting characters are perfect. But Simon Pegg’s lead is an action hero among regular folk… Hot Fuzz reminds me a lot of Last Action Hero. Pegg plays the character as an action hero lost in the real world (with a few hinky exceptions, like the detectives) and it works against the film.

Pegg’s actually really good as the action hero. He’s a fine actor. But he’s–I need a metaphor for something moving against the grain and I’m not getting one. There’s also some serious writing problems–I’m sure one could defend it as some kind of a reference to plot holes in action movies, but there’s no real excuse for it. My biggest problem with Hot Fuzz, besides that plot hole, is it’s unnecessary. Action movies reference, homage, and mock each other and have been doing it for twenty years. Pointing out all the stereotypical film techniques–down to Lethal Weapon‘s music, in fact–well, if Hot Fuzz had been fifteen minutes–or even eighty-five–but it’s two hours. The jokes get old after about five seconds, long enough to notice the references, then Hot Fuzz carries them through… so it’s admirable, but pointless.

The supporting cast–especially Timothy Dalton–is all good. Dalton’s great throughout while other characters have reveals and don’t do as well… script problems too.

I find it odd movielens said I’d give it three, but IMDb correctly suggests five bad movies to see if I liked it. Including Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys II. Though I’m just guessing on Bad Boys II (I try not to see things like that).

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Edgar Wright; written by Wright and Simon Pegg; director of photography, Jess Hall; edited by Chris Dickens; music by David Arnold; production designer, Marcus Rowland; produced by Nira Park, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner; released by Rogue Pictures.

Starring Simon Pegg (Nicholas Angel), Nick Frost (Danny Butterman), Jim Broadbent (Frank Butterman), Paddy Considine (Andy Wainwright), Timothy Dalton (Simon Skinner), Anne Reid (Leslie Tiller), Rafe Spall (Andy Cartwright), Billie Whitelaw (Joyce Cooper), Edward Woodward (Tom Weaver), Bill Nighy (Chief Inspector), Martin Freeman (Sergeant) and Steve Coogan (Metropolitan Police Inspector).


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