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|
|Here comes the fuzz...|
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...