5. The World’s End: Bathroom Fight

It’s a pity that Wright and Marvel parted ways before Wright could make Ant-Man, because most of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and particularly the bathroom fight sequence in The World’s End reveals that Wright is immensely skilled at staging action sequences. This fight in closed quarters is fluid and, best of all, incredibly easy to follow. Here, Wright has crafted a fight scene more coherent than almost any fight scene ever portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I’m always learning and I love action whether or not it’s Jackie Chan or John Woo or Sam Peckinpah,” Wright said in regards to the bathroom fight. “What was really fun in this one was to try and design fights with a cast that was very game and very good with choreography. The question becomes, “how long can you go without cutting?” In that bathroom scene there are only 3 or 4 shots where there are stunt doubles. And the kids are there the whole time, they’re never doubled. It was a joy designing these fights. We wanted to film to feel real and not too cutty. If you’ve got this choreography, you want the audience to feel it. I love doing those sequences.”

4. Shaun of the Dead: Oblivious Trip to the Shop

Early in Shaun of the Dead, before the zombie outbreak has begun, Shaun (Simon Pegg) takes a trip down to the local shop for some provisions. On the surface, it’s a mundane moment, but the payoff comes after all hell has broken loose – off camera. Shaun, unaware of the zombies that are now running rampant right outside his door, wakes and heads down to the very same shop. Wright and editor Chris Dickens shoot and cut the sequence in exactly the same manner as the original mundane trip, only this time there are clues to something having gone very wrong around every corner, creating a hilarious visual callback. Clues that Shaun remains completely oblivious to it all.

3. The World’s End: “It’s all I’ve got.”

The World’s End is the most misunderstood film in the Cornetto Trilogy, mostly due to tone. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz have their darker moments, but for the most part they’re fairly upbeat comedies (or, at least, as upbeat as a comedies containing numerous deaths can be). The World’s End is something different, though. It’s a more melancholy film, tinged with regret, fronted by a leading character who is in a losing fight against self-loathing. “The film is less of an apocalypse comedy than it is a film about self destruction,” Wright said. It was not the fun conclusion to the trilogy that many fans wanted, and thus was inevitably shunned by some. But there’s a maturity to the film that outshines Shaun and Fuzz, and a willingness to portray failure in a way other comedies might shy from.

At the start of The World’s End, we see Simon Pegg’s Gary King sitting in a group meeting, but Wright keeps the meaning of this meeting a secret. At the film’s end, we learn that Gary, an alcoholic remorseful for what he sees as his lost youth giving way to a go-nowhere future, had tried to kill himself. Now, with the world literally falling down all around him, all Gary wants to do is drink. “It’s all I’ve got,” he angrily tells his best friend Andy (Nick Frost), in a moment that’s impeccably performed by Pegg & Frost.

2. Baby Driver: Opening Credits

Baby Driver is the closest Wright has come to making a full-fledged musical, a fast-paced film loaded with wall-to-wall songs. Wright even times car crashes and gunshots to the beat on whatever song happens to be playing during the scene. Really, almost every scene of this film could take up an entire list like this. But let’s talk about the opening credits, a brilliantly-staged set-piece shot in seemingly one long, traveling take. In the film’s prologue, getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) shows off his exceptional driving skills. Wright follows this high-octane moment up with a whimsical credit sequence as Baby strolls downtown to pick up coffee, all set to the song “Harlem Shuffle” by Bob & Earl. Elgort moves in sync to the music, and at certain points he passes walls and telephone poles that just happened to feature graffiti transcripts of certain lyrics from the song.

“I always had this idea of doing like a steadicam shot where you follow [Baby] to the coffee shop and back in the course of one song,” Wright said. “I always had that song in mind. ‘Harlem Shuffle’ is the perfect length. It’s a great walking song, and also I tried to use a lot of older R&B and soul tracks that have been sampled a lot in hip-hop. The funny thing about this, and this is genuine because this shows how bonkers the preparation was, is that was always the song, so when we were scouting for locations, my cinematographer, my location scout, my AD, and I would have ‘Harlem Shuffle’ on my phone and we would play it and then we would see where we could walk to and back….Eventually it’s like, ‘Well, you can kind of get to this coffee shop, but you really have to run, and I feel like he wants to strut along. If we strut along or we walk a bit slower we can get to this place, which is a pizza place, but we could turn it into a coffee shop.’ And then Bill Pope, my cinematographer says, ‘Remember that Ansel has longer legs than you, so he’ll be able to do it faster than you are.’ Because Ansel is 6’4?. So it was a bananas and fascinating thing. I’m sure people watching us were like . . . so there’s a guy walking around playing ‘Harlem Shuffle’ on his phone.”

1. Shaun of the Dead: The Plan

Few filmmakers working in comedy right now know how to use a montage as well as Edgar Wright. Wright makes montages that are quick and loaded with visual cues and clues, and perhaps the best of the bunch is “the plan” sequence from Shaun of the Dead. After a zombie outbreak, Shaun (Simon Pegg) needs to come up with a plan to whisk his ex-girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) and mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) to safety, Wright has Shaun break-down several options, one after another, realizing each time the flaw in the design. As the montage unfolds, the scenarios become quicker and funnier – Shaun dealing with his infected step-father (Bill Nighy) goes from being compassionate to an afterthought, and the various mugs the montages end on change with a different slogan each time. It’s hilarious while also conveying a wealth of information in less than two minutes.

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