Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Image is property of Studio Canal and WT²

Shaun of the Dead  – Film Review

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz

Director: Edgar Wright

Synopsis: With his life going nowhere, stuck in a dead-end job and failing to win over his on-off girlfriend Liz, Shaun (Pegg) tries to get his life together, and must do all this, in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse…

Review: Like many fictional beings that don’t really exist in our world, humanity has seemingly always had an interest in all things Zombies. Ever since the first Zombie film debuted back in the 1930s, these horrifying creatures have been an ever present, creating their own sub-genre of horror films. But in the first film of what is now known, as the Cornetto trilogy, director Edgar Wright and his two leads Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, devoured this genre and blended a bit of romance and comedy, all while giving it a very uniquely British taste.

Shaun and his best mate Ed (Frost) are both aimless in their lives and careers, seemingly content with going nowhere, and more than happy to pass their time playing video games, and getting drunk at their favourite pub. However, when Liz (Ashfield) decides she has had enough with Shaun’s laziness, she dumps him.  Being jilted gives Shaun the kick up the backside he needs to get his act, and life together and win her back. To make matters even more complicated, the city of London is now experiencing a Zombie apocalypse that throws many undead obstacles in Shaun’s path, which Shaun and Ed must now do battle with, all while on a quest to win back Liz’s heart.

Impersonate a Zombie day was not a roaring success..

Right away, it’s clear that Shaun is not initially the most likeable of protagonists but, probably in no small part due to Simon Pegg’s charisma and charm, he has a good heart that ultimately brings you round to his cause. That being said, having Ed by his side definitely doesn’t help matters. Though Ed can be extremely entertaining in his own right, his lazy, reluctant attitude brings out the worst qualities in Shaun. Yet, despite the massive flaws in both their personalities, that there’s something that’s very sincere and hilarious about their friendship that you cannot help but want to see them succeed, even when Liz and her best friends Diane (Davis) and David (Moran) are less than supportive of Shaun’s efforts.

Edgar Wright and Pegg’s screenplay is consistently hilarious. From the very first shots of people on their commute, who already look like they are members of the undead, to the very first scuffle with a pair of zombies, to the moment where the Zombie Apocalypse has fully taken over the city. Much like a Zombie apocalypse, the comedy never lets up. Wright fuses the excellent comedy of the script and at the same time, turns on the style with the action. From a fight in a back garden to the climatic final showdown in a pub of all places, the comedy compliments the action, and vice versa.

Even in the midst of all the uproarious and absurd action scenes, there are quite a few moments of intense drama and emotion. In addition, of course it wouldn’t be a Zombie film, without its fair share of blood and guts, with a fair number of London’s citizens meeting some rather grim fates. However, having cut his teeth on A Fistful of Fingers and the Channel 4 TV show Spaced, it was just the start of an upward trajectory for Wright as a director, and likewise for Pegg and Frost as actors. Each of their careers, and indeed the Cornetto trilogy, would later go from strength to strength, whilst presumably giving sales of Cornettos an enormous boost at the same time.

Consistently hilarious, with an exciting blend of comedy, drama and horror, and an excellent ensemble cast ensured that the Cornetto trilogy got off to a tasty start.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Baby Driver (2017)

Image is property of Tristar Pictures, Working Title Films and Big Talk Productions

Baby Driver – Film Review

Cast: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González

Director: Edgar Wright

Synopsis: Whilst working for a ruthless crime boss, a young get away driver becomes one of the best in the business. When he meets a woman, he sees a chance to make his escape, but not before one last job…

Review: Whenever there’s a film that is released in the middle of the crowded summer movie season, that boasts a wholly original and extremely intriguing premise, that is always something to savour. Furthermore when you find out that said original film is from the man who gave the world the glorious Cornetto trilogy, that immediately is something to look forward to.

This is a project that Edgar Wright had in the works for well over two decades now. Yet it was only until after a messy exit from Marvel’s Ant-Man which he had been scheduled to direct, he turned his attentions back to his passion project, and hit the accelerator. Focusing on Baby (Elgort) a supremely talented get away driver who plays music via an iPod to drown out the tinnitus he suffered following a childhood accident. He’s one of the best in the business and Doc, the crime boss running the operations (Spacey), knows it. However when Baby falls head over heels for a waitress named Debora (James) he sees his chance to make his escape from the lifestyle. Unfortunately, Doc has other ideas, and one last heist beckons.

Leading the way in an impeccably acted cast, Elgort is immediately very likeable in the lead role as Baby. You have sympathy for him and his circumstances, and he has the charisma to carry the film on his shoulders. Likewise for Lily James as Debra, the two of them build a relationship and the chemistry between them is excellent. As the head honcho crime boss, Spacey too bosses every second of screen time he has, with the usual authority he brings to his roles, yet he can also show his more compassionate side. Jamie Foxx, for a man named Bats feels somewhat appropriate as he’s the most batshit crazy one of the group. Completing the core gang is Jon Hamm’s Buddy and Eiza González’s Darling, neither of whom have a great amount of backstory and character development, but are effortlessly watchable.

The coolest get away driver in the world…

Wright’s screenplay does occasionally meander, there are moments where you feel like it could be something of a dead end, but everything is eventually steered back on course. The Cornetto trilogy demonstrated great humour throughout and there’s just the right amount of humour to be found here. With a premise that focuses on heists and getaways, it’s a given that there’s going to be some rather high octane action scenes, and that is most certainly the case. Wright steers these scenes superbly, the editing is slick and the action is so fast paced, there’s a very good chance that the audience is going to be on the edge of their seats throughout. Sure we have had heist movies in the past with a great get away driver, but Wright pulls it off in a manner that makes it feel fresh. Furthermore, the accompanying soundtrack, is one of, if not the best we have had so far in 2017.

The first two acts keep things for the most part at a steady pace, yet the third act is when things really move into the fast lane. It’s something to to savour, and could also lay claim to the best third act we have seen so far this year. It is breathless stuff that hits top speed in no time at all and barely slows down until the final credits. This might be a movie almost twenty years in the making, and to see it come to fruition in such spectacular style, is extremely satisfying, especially when it’s a movie that takes a very familiar concept, and makes it feel so unique and original, that has to be applauded.

Stylish, with slickly made action scenes that are pulsating to watch accompanied by a stellar soundtrack, fasten your seat-belts ladies and gentlemen, you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Scott Pilgrim VS The World (2010)

scott pilgrim vs the world
All image rights belong to Big Talk Films and Universal Pictures

Scott Pilgrim VS The World – Film Review

Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman,

Director: Edgar Wright

Synopsis: Scott Pilgrim is a 22 year old who is on a road to nowhere until he meets a girl he rather likes. Only problem is that in order to win his affection he has to battle all of her exes.

Review: Movies based off video games do not have a good record of being any good, and for the most part, they do struggle to achieve greatness. and some are just flat out terrible. However every so often, one movie comes along that uses elements from video games in order to tell the story. 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow for instance, with the constant re-spawning. Edgar Wright’s 2010 offering, with the screenplay penned by Wright and Michael Bacall, adapting from the series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, also uses video game elements. It does this whilst also telling a love story, and uses them to brilliant, if slightly bonkers results, and one that will make anyone watching, their inner nerd extremely happy.

The focus of the story is Scott (Cera), a guy who no doubt many men who watch this movie will relate to. He looks for the direction in life, whilst striving to achieve greatness for his band, whilst also trying to win the affections of that special girl. Lo and behold he stumbles across the the girl of his dreams, in this instance it’s Ramona Flowers (Winstead.) Yet unbeknown to Scott, this lady has seven evil exes that Scott must do battle with, Tekken and Soul Calibur style, in order to win over her affection. Wright manages to fuse video game like tropes and live action very well, and the battles with the exes are somewhat ridiculous, but they are extremely entertaining to watch. There are some quirky and unique methods that Wright inserts throughout the film in order to tell the story, and sometimes to convey the awkwardness in some situations. The whole fight scenes are just like if video games, anime and movies all merged into one glorious package.

Romance in movies like these can sometimes feel forced and shoehorned into the story, but in this instance, not so. There is strong chemistry between Scott and Ramona, and you want to see them make it work, there is just the small matter of those crazy exes that Scott has to deal with, including battles with a former Superman in Brandon Routh and a pre-Captain America Chris Evans! No one ever said the hero had it easy! Michael Cera gives a great performance as Scott, he’s dorky, and a bit useless, but you just can’t help wanting to root for him. As Ramona, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, also brings her A game as Ramona, she’s not that weirdo ex, but a friend and someone Scott can turn to as he battles through the crazy exes. The rest of the cast including the likes of Anna Kendrick and Jason Schwartzman all play their roles brilliantly.

If you were to try and compare this film to another movie, you’d be hard pressed to find one similar. It’s a very unique film in this regard, and one that if it had been placed in the wrong hands, could have failed badly. Fortunately as it was in Wright’s very capable hands, it passed with flying colours. The quirky humour that Wright is brilliant, is packed throughout the film and it works perfectly. The opening of the movie is a little sluggish and slow to get going, but once the console of the film is fired up, the entertainment and the laughs will carry on all the way to the credits. This is a perfect example of a video game movie done right, even though it is not based on a video game. Nevertheless, for video game lovers out there, this is your movie.

Original, unique and very entertaining, with some top performances and some ridiculously funny fight scenes and video game references aplenty, to make the nerd in all of us extremely happy! 

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