The Cornetto Trilogy consists of three films by writer/director Edgar Wright that are unconnected in plot but star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the lead roles and stars a different flavour Cornetto at some point in the film. The trilogy began with horror Shaun of the Dead (2004) followed by action Hot Fuzz (2007) and concludes with sci-fi The World’s End (2013). Each film was critically and commercially well-received and has a dedicated fan-base. As with any Edgar Wright film they all have strong language in abundance, brilliant soundtracks and a striking aesthetic. I go back to these films time and time again and find myself noticing things that I hadn’t seen before.
Here’s a quick summary of each installment in chronological order:
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Part horror, part family drama, all comedy. Shaun of the Dead follows Simon Pegg as the titular character whose life seems to be going nowhere (except local pub, The Winchester that is). Accompanied by his lazy housemate, Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun navigates his way through a random zombie apocalypse that has befallen the country to get to his ex-girlfriend’s house in a bid to win her back. It’s a film that is filled with a lot of heart and even more guts that is both genius and revolutionary in the horror comedy genre. It’s one of those films that you can quote for hours on end. Horror comedy is not an easy genre to pull off well critically and in a sincere manner but Shaun of the Dead does this through its flawed protagonist who is as layered as the blood paving the streets.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
The second film in the trilogy is an action-packed story filmed in Edgar Wright’s hometown. Overachieving police officer, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is relocated to the tiny village of Sandford, aptly known as “the safest village in Britain”. As a series of gruesome deaths occur throughout the village, Nicholas believes that there is a murderer on the loose despite the townspeople constant protestations that the deaths are accidents. Alongside local police officer, Danny (Nick Frost), the pair attempt to track down the killer and bring them to justice. Although it does have strong points, it is my least favourite of the trilogy for a number of reasons. Unlike the other two films, it is plot heavy rather than a character study and I personally prefer the latter. Action isn’t my favourite genre but I do think it is a strong film that brings something different to the genre.
The World’s End (2013)
The final film in the trilogy is also my favourite. Simon Pegg plays Gary King, an alcoholic who hasn’t moved on from school days and longs to complete the Golden Mile in his hometown which he failed to finish as a teenager. The Golden Mile is a pub crawl that consists of 12 ending with the titular pub, The World’s End. He gathers up his childhood mates, including his former best friend, Andy (Nick Frost) and they attempt to conquer The Mile while fighting off an alien invasion that has turned the townspeople into androids (or Blanks as they are called in the film). Featuring a brilliant cast as always and a higher budget than the two previous films combined, Wright is tasked with giving this trilogy the grand finish it deserves and he succeeds with flying colours. Everything about this film emulates the previous installments with its attention to detail, layered characters and brilliant script. The writing in this film is what I enjoy most about this film as the timing and pacing is flawless.
The Cornetto Trilogy is a career-defining set of films that put Edgar Wright on the map. Not many directors can easily transition from low to high budget but Wright does this easily. He’s clearly a lover of a wide spectrum of films and isn’t afraid to pay tribute in an original way.
What is your favourite film in the Cornetto Trilogy? Let me know in the comments below!