Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver came out last week. I made plans with my cousin to see it on Tuesday afternoon. So of course I spent all day Monday watching the Cornetto Trilogy. What else is a guy supposed to do on a long weekend? I didn’t actually plan it that way, but after finishing up a little work Monday morning, I thought it would be fun to throw on Shaun of the Dead as a way to hype myself up for Baby Driver. When I finished it, the wife was happily sewing something and the daughter was busy upstairs playing with her toys so I threw on Hot Fuzz. Why not? After that, I just had to watch The World’s End because you can’t stop 2/3rds of our way through a trilogy. There were breaks in between and I did actually spend a little time with my family, but mostly it was just me, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and some glorious satirizing of genres.
Baby Driver was fantastic and I also finished off the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week which rounded things out nicely. So let's get to the details.
Shaun of the Dead
The first time I watched Shaun of the Dead I was none too impressed. It was enjoyable enough but not the amazing thing people kept raving about. There was something about its tone and its jokey nature that I found off-putting. I’ve seen it a few times since and I like it more and more each time. In fact, that could easily sum up my feelings about all the films in the trilogy. Upon first viewing, I’m never as satisfied as I hope to be but when I watch it again, I find something more to love.
For the uninitiated, Shaun of the Dead of a spoof of the zombie genre. This is before the undead became such big business and was generally relegated to hardcore horror nerds. Shaun is a feat for those guys with reference to nearly every zombie film ever made. What makes it work so well with repeat viewings is that the first half of the film sets up the back half in ways both big and small. Over and over, there are little things that happen early in the film that find a payoff sometime later.
Writing this, I’m ready to watch it again just to see what else I’ve missed.
With the success of Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright was green lit to make another satirical spoof of a genre. So he teamed up once again with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to take on action movies (with a good bit of slasher horror thrown in). I first watched this one on my tiny iPod screen. Unlike Shaun, I quite liked Hot Fuzz the first go around. Very much like Shaun, I’ve found it only increases in awesomeness with each viewing.
One of the fun little things I noticed this time was that every time Timothy Dalton’s swarmy character drives by the scene of one of the gruesome murders he’s listening to a song on the radio that matches in some way to how the person died. It’s the little things that make it great.
The World’s End
By the time they made the third film in the Cornetto Trilogy (called so because the characters eat a Cornetto ice cream cone at some point in each film), I was completely on board. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz had become favorite films of mine and I was very excited to watch The World’s End. Which may be why I was initially disappointed.
Watching the three films back to back to back, I’ve come to realize that one of the reasons my initial reactions haven’t been fully positive is that the main characters in each film are kind of terrible people. Pegg and Frost in Shaun of the Dead are both losers. Frost isn’t much different in Hot Fuzz and while Pegg plays a super cop in that one he’s got no semblance of a personal life. And in The World’s End Pegg plays a complete arsehole. Them being rather terrible people is all part of the joke, but it's also a bit off putting upon first viewing.
This was actually only my second viewing of The World’s End and it will come as no surprise to you now but I found it to be much more enjoyable this time around. It's still my least favorite of the trilogy, but it's full of all sorts of hilarious goodness.
After watching all three of those films, I came to realize that Baby Driver has more in common with Edgar Wright’s other film, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, than anything in the Cornetto Trilogy. Those films rely more on the writing and comic delivery than style to make them great. Baby Driver is all about the style.
Ansel Elgort stars as Baby, a getaway driver working off a debt to Kevin Spacey’s bank-robbing mastermind. Baby has a ringing in his ear caused by an accident from when he was a kid. To drown it out, he constantly plays music via his many iPods. But that’s just an excuse for Edgar Wright to load the soundtrack with an excellent collection of songs and then edit his film to them.
The film’s low on plot, high on heist movie cliches, loaded with great actors. and a big bank sack full of fun.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I finally caught up with Season 4 of this Marvel TV show. It's a series that I originally started as something to veg out on with the family but over time it has become one of my favorites. Storywise, it often gets a bit silly but I really like the characters. I tend to say that Fitz and Simmons are my favorites but then Coulson will do something really cool or Agent May will kick some butt or Mack will have a nice character moment and then I can’t decide. It's just a really great ensemble.
The first half of this season brought in Ghost Rider. I’ve never been a fan of any incarnation of this character and while they did him alright here, I was glad to see him (mostly) go away. The second half is where Season 4 really got great. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet watched but but they do some Matrix/Battlestar Galactica stuff in it that brings back some old characters and allows some current ones to behave in very different ways. It's all loads of fun and great TV.
To what might have been.