Saturday, 20 June 2015

'Blood and Ice Cream' trilogy review.

I decided to revisit one of the best comedy trilogies of all time and review the titles as they stand side by side. Hit the jump for the nostalgia...

So, which ones the best? Hmmm.....

Let me just start by saying that all the films are VERY different. Sure, they're inexplicably tied together: they have the same director, use the same actors, share the same tropes, reference each other, have Cornettos (duh), and comment on the same themes; but they're different. Indeed, 'Shaun of the Dead' is a zombie film, 'Hot Fuzz' is a cop film, and 'The Worlds End' is a sci-fi film. These films also feature different antagonists: zombies, a cult, and robot/alien/bodysnatcher thingymajiggies. Yet they are all about friendship fundamentally, and have a lot to say about our culture and the slacker lifestyle.

Shaun of the Dead
'Shaun of the Dead' is the first film in the trilogy and is the most in tone with pop culture. Indeed, the debut of the Pegg/Frost duo is so in tune with the film world, even it's title is a reference (for those of you who are OUT of tune with the world, 'Dawn of the Dead'). The music resonates with the 60s and 70s and the time in which the films it refers to were being produced - a nice touch which just about makes the film. We meet Pegg as an unambitious store worker who is, for all intents and purposes, a loser. After being dumped by his girlfriend, he goes on a drink binge and then fails to notice the zombie apocalypse that has ravaged the world (although you shouldn't use the Z word...). What follows is a 'zom-rom-com' whose central conceit revolves around a group of survivors trekking to the local pub, and making a last stand against the undead hordes. Certainly a unique proposition. So unique, in fact, that it now has its own meme. It has its fair share of human emotion; familial love, girlfriends, friendship, jealousy and of course the violence comes thick and fast. In terms of actual bloodletting, 'Shaun' is certainly the most brutal, with Pegg and Frost dismembering the dead constantly in imaginative ways. Although, I would say that the comedy isn't thick and fast... there are many laughs in this film, but it never really reaches a fever pitch of hilarity (not that it needs to). I suppose it has a harder job than the others, as it creates the exposition of 'in - jokes' that provide laughs in the other films. Truly an excellent start to the trilogy, and a Brit-comedy masterpiece. On a side note, I was forced to eat a strawberry Cornetto.... which is my least favorite flavor :(.

Here comes the fuzz...
Next came 'Hot Fuzz'. For the majority of people that I have spoken too, this is the favorite. It's easy to see why: the comedy is thick and fast. Out of all the films in the trilogy, this is by far the funniest. Pegg and Frost have a much higher chemistry, and there is no real conflict between them (only a personality difference). The cast of other minor characters such as Adam Buxton as a dyslexic reporter provide frequent hilarity, as do the references to 'Shaun of the Dead' (including a copy of it in a bargain buy bin). The bad guys are also the coolest: the film takes the guise of a horror - slasher movie with a bizarrely comedic cult taking place. If you haven't already seen it, I won't spoil it, but the denouement is just perfect, and the resulting showdown in the village and 'siege on sommerfield' is hilarious. The film makes obvious reference to cop films (which it names ) so viewers not acquainted with the genre can enjoy the jokes, although the references don't come as frequently as in 'Shaun'. It also achieves the 'goriest death' award when a church spire falls on top of a mans head.... it's grim. Although, strangely enough,  the film as a whole is very warm. As I said, there is no real character conflict or 'sad' moments and the key friendship is adorable, whereas in 'Shaun of the dead' it was on a knife edge for much of the movie. So, yeah, on a comedy scale this film triumphs above the rest, and thus it will be the favorite of many cinema-goers. After a lot of thought, I would have to concede that it beats 'Shaun of the Dead': despite it's lack of diversity in emotion, it is frequently hilarious and a lot of fun. Also, I got to eat an 'original' Cornetto - which IS the best!

The third film in the trilogy, 'The Worlds End' had a much larger delay in coming out. It was debated over what it would be, if it would be the last, and if it would even come out. I don't think anyone predicted what was eventually released...... It's weird, different from all the films in many respects. So weird that, in fact, I would have to conclude that as a standalone film (as in you haven't seen the others) it's probably not going to work, but as the final piece in the trilogy, it's perfect. It's a lot darker, and its not warm at all: the humor is spiteful and sparser than 'Hot Fuzz'. There's a sort of roll reversal, in that the Frost character is suddenly in a powerful job, rather than the extreme slacker. Also, the Pegg character is a massive dick, far from the 'decent guy' archetype he exudes in the previous entries. It's more grown up, and deals with more themes: loneliness, loss, suicide, friendship, and human nature. The story's certainly the most unique: a pub crawl turns into a race to save the human race from blue robot alien things (but don't say the R word). It's a testament to the past: an aching nostalgia for what we used to be, a yearning for all our hopes and dreams before we become fuck-ups and lose our way in the stream of life. This sadness is omnipresent, but the violence is by far the strongest of all the series entries (blue - blooded robots can be killed very inventively) - leading to some crazy fight scenes. And when all's said and done, the final scene in the eponymous pub contains the best comedy lines of the entire series, alongside the most emotional and powerful scenes in all three films to create an entirely memorable experience... it's just incredible and completely unexpected, the film is full of surprise twists and to spoil them would be tantamount to murder. The best film in the series I should think.

So, in watching the films back to back, what do we see? Well, in Shaun of the Dead we get a great homage to zombie movies, complete with some nice Brit humor, and the exposition of the character archetypes in the series. This is superseded by Hot Fuzz which builds on the previous films talents, creating a funnier and warmer exploration of friendship - the best stand-alone title of the series. And lastly, this is all toppled by the Worlds End (literally) which turns these archetypes on their head, and truly comments on human nature. It's not the funniest, but it's the most intelligent, emotional, and powerful entry in the series - and the best.

So yeah, the Cornetto trilogy is certainly a great subject for a movie marathon. The snacks are obvious, the films are unique, and watching them in order brings a sort of satisfaction and sense of completion that individual watchings cannot provide. Props to Wright for creating one of the best trilogies of all time...

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