Edgar Wright Wes Craven tribute

Over a twenty-three year career spanning TV and film, Edgar Wright has honed his craft to become one of the most inventive, exciting filmmakers working today. With his genre-bending screwball comedies, Wright has developed an instantly recognizable style, culled from filmmakers before him, like Sam Raimi, Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers and more, and given his own unique twist. With rapid-fire montages and close-up cutaways, Wright fully embraces the visual aspect of the visual medium of film (something a shocking number of modern filmmakers seem to overlook). With Wright’s latest film Baby Driver speeding into theaters this week, it’s time to look a selection of the best scenes from his film career.

Spoilers for Wright’s films follow. 

10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Matthew Patel fight

Edgar Wright’s 2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World found the director stepping outside of the Cornetto Trilogy to adapt Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular graphic novel series into a colorful, video game-infused film. The story follows Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), an extremely whiny bass player who develops an unhealthy crush on the alluring Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Before Scott and Ramona can be together, however, he has to do battle with her “seven evil exes.” The early scenes of Scott Pilgrim are hyper-stylized, with comic book text appearing on the screen to accompany sounds and movements, but for a large chunk of the early proceedings, things seem firmly rooted in a kind of reality.

Then the first evil ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), arrives for battle, and all bets are off. All the fight scenes in Scott Pilgrim are highly entertaining, but this first fight has the most impact because it comes seemingly out of nowhere. Matthew literally comes exploding through the roof, defying all laws of gravity, and from there he and Scott engage in a fight that takes time to incorporate a Bollywood-style dance routine. 

9. Hot Fuzz: The Greater Good

After investigating a series of murders that have been plaguing the small, idyllic town of Sanford, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) makes the shocking discovery that the town’s leaders are the culprits, and they’ve been knocking-off anyone they see as unworthy of living in their award-winning town. “Whatever the cost, we would Make Sanford Great Again,” the corrupt chief police inspector (Jim Broadbent) says in a line that might seem much more unsettling now than it did in 2013.

Angel is understandably shocked – the townspeople have committed multiple murders in order to live a lie, but they don’t see it that way. It’s a dark, twisted scene shot through with macabre humor, as Wright cuts back throughout it to the various grisly murders that populated the film, all leading to Nicholas realizing that all of this carnage has been in order to win a meaningless “Best Village Award.”

8. The World’s End: Final Speech

The ending of The World’s End finds alcoholic Gary King (Simon Pegg) in a shouting-match with an alien life form that goes by the name of The Network. The Network has plans for earth – plans that involve the betterment of the species, but at what cost? The choice for humanity seems to be either to go along with anything The Network says, or be killed and replaced with mindless androids. That’s a non-starter for Gary, who literally annoys the aliens to the point that they give up and leave the planet – with detrimental consequences.  

“The whole idea about what was being offered to the planet Earth… it might have actually been a good thing,” Pegg said. “And it might have been better to go along with it. Maybe we should be told what to do. Maybe it’s better if we are controlled, because we are erratic and irrational creatures, that don’t always make the right decisions. You know, for Gary, it’s all about control. He doesn’t want to be controlled. And the choice he makes at the end of the film has huge ramifications. And it might not have been the right choice. But the irony is, in the final analysis, Gary does find happiness.” Wright could’ve neutralized the threat at the center of The World’s End in a million different ways, but there’s something so dementedly brilliant about defeating an alien invasion via annoyance.

7. Hot Fuzz: Watching Movies

One of the most enjoyable scenes in Hot Fuzz involves something as simple as Simon Pegg and Nick Frost watching movies together. It’s a moment that brings Pegg & Frost’s characters closer together, and if you thought you noticed a possible romantic subtext to the scene, you’re not wrong. “Our first draft of the script was about 180 pages long,” Wright said, “and there was a romantic interest for Simon, a girl called Victoria who worked in the hotel…the one person [that] he could connect with and have a tentative relationship with. And we did a read-through of the first draft with a bunch of the actors. And after the first read-through, someone from Working Title suggested that we cut the girlfriend character out and concentrate on Simon and Nick’s relationship. And not only did we think that was a wise move, but we gave all of the girlfriend’s lines to Nick…There was already that buddy, homoerotic, man-love thing going on, but then to bring in all of her lines just tipped it over the edge.”

Adding to the moment is another scene, involving a murder, running concurrently and spliced into the moment. On top of that all, there are several beats from the action movies that Pegg & Frost watch that later receive callbacks near the film’s end.

6. Shaun of the Dead: Don’t Stop Me Now

It seems strange that Edgar Wright has yet to make a full-fledged musical, since it might very well be his destiny. Wright said that he thought of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as a musical where characters break into fights instead of song, but an early hint of his film musical abilities is front and center in Shaun of the Dead. Hold up in the Winchester pub as zombies come flooding in, Shaun and his friends do battle with the undead in-sync to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” as the song blares from the jukebox.

As memorable as the scene is, there was a chance it might not have happened at all. “It’s funny to me that we used it in the film and we had to clear it before we started filming,” Wright said. “Our film was not a big budget film, so it’s actually thanks to Queen that they gave it to us at a decent rate. 15 years ago, some bands were just completely off limits. Led Zeppelin might charge £250,000, but the Queen track, they gave it to us for about 15k which is amazing. We wouldn’t have a scene without it.”

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