Review for The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy
What films haven’t you watched that the ‘world’ tells you that you really should? There are all these movie bucket lists out there put together by critics and aficionados of films that you simply must watch before you die, and it’s supposedly every film fan’s duty to cross them off the list one by one to qualify as a cineaste recognised by one’s peers. Sometimes personal preferences get in the way. I never got into the Vietnam War movie genre, and I’ve steered clear of gangster movies. People tell me I should have watched Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, The Godfather Trilogy and Goodfellas. Everyone tells me I should have seen Pan’s Labyrinth, or Psycho, The Usual Suspects or indeed Citizen Kane. I’d mention more but I suspect that men in official suits will be around to take away my video club membership card. It’s time to start addressing the deficiencies in my film education.
And I’m starting with the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. These are supposedly three of the best British film comedies of the early 21st Century, from the talent behind Spaced. I have also never seen Spaced (now there’s another deficiency I should remedy), which is why I thought I wouldn’t get the most of films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, but quite recently I watched Paul (from the same creative talent) and quite enjoyed it. It also turns out that the Cornetto Trilogy is ridiculously cheap on Blu-ray, which had me scratching my head briefly, until I realised that the trilogy is also now hitting bargain buckets on UHD. Who am I to ignore a format’s imminent obsolescence and not take advantage of a bargain?
All three individual Blu-ray releases are gathered, and the 3 BD Amarays are presented in a thin card slipcase.
Introduction: Shaun of the Dead
Shaun’s life is heading towards a dead-end. He’s 29, working in retail, and sharing a flat with his best friend Ed, the proverbial deadbeat who moved in for a bit, and then never left. And invariably his evenings end in the Winchester pub, a tired locale that has nothing but comfort and familiarity going for it. That doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend Liz, who wants something more from life, and consequently dumps him. After drowning his sorrows at the Winchester with Ed, they stagger home, and Shaun drunkenly scribbles a to-do list; see his mum, get Liz back, and sort his life out. Sober next morning, he sets out to do just that, but it’s going to be harder than he imagines, as while Shaun has been lost in his own problems, the zombie apocalypse has occurred.
The Disc: Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, and DTS 5.1 Surround French, Italian, Spanish and German, with subtitles in these languages and Dutch. It seems as if Shaun of the Dead was an early digitally shot film, at least when it comes to the way contrast and black levels are handled on this disc. Otherwise, the image is clear and sharp, detail levels are excellent and the colours are strong and consistent. The special effects still stand up well even after 16 years. The audio is fine, the action comes across well, the dialogue is clear, and the eclectic music soundtrack evokes nostalgia and is one to appreciate.
Extras: Shaun of the Dead
You get one disc in a BD Amaray, and an expired UV code. The disc boots to Universal’s stock animated menu.
The disc is replete with extra features, although given the vintage of the release, it’s understandable that most of them are in SD.
In Missing Bits you’ll find the following.
Extended Bits with optional commentary x15 (13:28)
The Man Who Would Be Shaun (0:35)
Funky Pete (2:04)
Plot Holes (3:27)
Raw Meat offers 51:51 of behind the scenes content, comprising three actors’ Video Diaries, Casting Tapes, Edgar & Simon’s Flipchart, SFX Comparison, Make Up Tests, and the EPK Featurette.
There are 5 TV Bits, complete sequences that played in the background of the film (10:56)
There are images to look at in three sections of the Zombie Gallery.
There are 6 Trailers to look at.
There are four commentaries with the film, one with Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright, one with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield, and Lucy Davis, one with Penelope Wilton and Bill Nighy, and one with a group of Zombie actors.
The U-Control content lets you pop up Storyboards and a Zomb-O-Meter trivia track during the film.
Conclusion: Shaun of the Dead
Stick “of the Dead” on the end of anything and you have a zombie movie. It just so happened that I watched One Cut of the Dead first, and that, in my mind has set such a high bar for a zombie-comedy that any other film would have a hard time achieving. Actually, before that I saw the anime High School of the Dead, which itself had set a standard that I was comparing all other zombie media to. Both came out after Shaun of the Dead, so it’s a little unfair to compare, but it’s hard not to. Shaun of the Dead is good, it’s funny, and it’s entertaining, but I have to say that it just didn’t blow me away, the way that audiences reacted when it was originally released.
While there is an element of parody, a couple of knowing winks, Shaun of the Dead works because it mostly approaches its subject matter seriously, allowing the plentiful humour to come from the situations and the characters. It’s traditional zombie fare in many ways; the zombie apocalypse arrives for reasons unknown, and the unlikely heroes have to team up to stay alive in the face of this threat, having to deal with internal conflict in the group as well. It’s a guessing game to see which of their number is picked off as well, and no doubt someone will be bitten and be begging to be shot or clubbed, or beheaded before they turn. Shaun of the Dead throws a little rom into its zom-com mix, with Shaun trying to patch up his relationship with Liz at the same time. It also manages to find a little heartfelt emotion in the midst of its zombie silliness.
One of the smart ways it parodies things at the start is the pace and detached nature of modern life, presenting the daily grind and repetitive 9-5 as a form of zombification in itself. Another smart thing is the way that it introduces the world, giving us a day or so of Shaun’s life before the apocalypse hits, and most of the zombies presented in the film will have previously been seen in their normal lives. It makes for a greater sense of connection to this world and the story that gives the film a better grounding with the audience.
I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, and it did entertain me, but my appreciation was tempered a little by having seen those other productions since. But even if I hadn’t seen them, I would still have to mention the end of the film, which appears lifted from Vamp, that cult Grace Jones vampire movie.
Introduction: Hot Fuzz
Nicholas Angel is a police officer for the Metropolitan Police in London. Actually it’s fairer to say that he’s a super-cop, an officer who has excelled since his days in training, and hasn’t eased up since, pursuing a passion for justice and law-enforcement that leaves his private life on the back burner, hence his ex-girlfriend. He’s just too good a cop, so much so that he makes everyone else in the Met look bad. So it is that he’s promoted to Sergeant... and transferred to the quiet village of Sandford, multiple winner of the Village of the Year, and where the hardest crime to crack is an escaped swan. Angel’s at work straight away, but quickly realises his brand of policing is out of place when the drunk driver he arrests is the son of the Inspector at the local station, Danny Butterman, and his new partner. Danny’s view of policing has been shaped by his extensive DVD collection, and he’s keen to learn. Angel takes him under his wing to set him straight, but finds something dark bubbling under the surface of Sandford Village.
The Disc: Hot Fuzz
Hot Fuzz gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, DTS 5.1 Surround French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Greek, Korean, Portuguese and Chinese. The image is excellent, a big improvement over Shaun of the Dead when it comes to contrast and black levels. Detail is excellent too, and colours are strong and consistent. There are no issues with compression, aliasing or even banding. The audio lives up to the action movie genre, immersive in the right ways, and really selling the action sequences. Once again, the film can be noted for its eclectic and catchy music soundtrack. The great dialogue is clear throughout.
Extras: Hot Fuzz
You get one disc in a BD Amaray, and an expired UV code. The disc boots to Universal’s stock animated menu. I was a little stunned to find that there is a lot more in the way of extra features even than Shaun of the Dead. So just a listing...
The U-Control feature offers Storyboards and a Fuzz-o-Meter trivia track during playback.
Inadmissable: Deleted Scenes with optional commentary x22 (20:37)
The Fuzzball Rally – Uncut with optional commentary by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, & Joe Cornish (71:09); the global press junket.
In The Evidence Room you’ll find most of the making of featurettes.
Conclusive: We Made Hot Fuzz (29:34)
Speculative: Video Blogs 13 (29:55)
Forensic: Featurettes x8 (44:53)
Photographic: Galleries x 2; poster art and stills
Hearsay: Plotholes x3 (3:23) & Comparisons x8 (6:21)
Falsified: Dead Right concerns the Dead Right short film that Edgar Wright made in 1993, and was something of a precursor to Hot Fuzz.
AM BLAM: Making Dead Right (10:29)
Dead Right (40:12) with optional commentary from Edgar Wright, and optional commentary from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
The Man Who Would Be Fuzz (0:34)
Hot Funk (3:43)
Danny’s Notebook: The Other Side (0:21)
Additional Video Blogs; VW x 4 (21:29) & iTunes x4 (16:30)
There are 4 trailers for the film, and a Storyboard Gallery.
Finally there are five audio commentaries to go with Hot Fuzz.
- Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
- Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon & Olivia Colman
- Edgar Wright & Quentin Tarantino
- Kenneth Graham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman & Edward Woodward
- Andy Leafe & Nick Edland; police officers that advised on the film.
Quentin Tarantino doesn’t do audio commentaries on his own films, but the one he does here is well worth listening to. And given the amount of video content squeezed onto one disc, you won’t be shocked that most of the extras are in SD.
Conclusion: Hot Fuzz
It should come as no surprise that I liked Hot Fuzz a lot more than Shaun of the Dead. My least favourite genre is horror, and my least favoured sub-genre within that is zombies, so for Shaun of the Dead to get through those preconceptions and wind up entertaining me was a big enough achievement in and of itself. But I do like action, and I do like the buddy-cop genre as well, so Hot Fuzz was already playing to my preferences to begin with. That it’s a good comedy action movie goes without saying. That it managed to exceed my expectations is worth mentioning. You can’t get too far away from the horror genre though, as it really plays like a cross between The Wicker Man and a mash-up of every buddy-cop cliché and trope from 48 Hours to Bad Boys.
The gag of course is that all of this action, the running and the jumping, the gunplay and the explosions, the body count being racked up, all takes place in a leafy little village in Gloucestershire, where everyone knows everyone else by name. The juxtaposition of the big city cop clichés in a quiet little hamlet make for a whole lot of fun. And that’s what happens when over-achieving super-cop Nicholas Angel gets transferred for being just too good at his job and making the rest of the Met look bad.
He comes to the village with an intention to continue with his adherence to the law and zeal for his duties, but when the first person that he arrests is his soon to be partner, he gets a swift introduction to a different pace of life, and a more nuanced approach to law enforcement. Everyone is friendly in Sandford, which makes crimes either small and petty, or non-existent, and the police station is more of a club than a working office. It’s fair to say that the staff are all ‘characters’ While the two Andys in CID may dress the part of an eighties police serial, they’re just as easy-going as the rest of the officers, and it’s only Danny, Angel’s new partner who has any enthusiasm for modern police methods, and even those only the methods he sees in the movies he watches. But as events unfold, Angel learns that while Sandford may not have had a murder in decades, the accident rate is suspiciously high, and when every farmer and his mother owns a gun, things are liable to be a lot more dangerous than the mean streets of London.
I really loved Hot Fuzz, and found it to be great entertainment from beginning to end. It’s also a who’s who of British acting talent with some great performances and some delightful characters. It’s such a simple idea, to set a police action movie in the unlikeliest of settings, but it makes for some brilliant comedy. The disc is also so packed with extra features that you’ll need to book a week off work to get through it all. Now I may not have liked horror, but I do like buddy cop movies, and I love sci-fi, and The World’s End is the conclusion of the Cornetto trilogy.
Introduction: The World’s End
When they graduated from school in June 1990, friends Gary King, Steven Prince, Andy Knightley, Oliver Chamberlain, and Peter Page celebrated by going on the legendary Golden Mile pub crawl in Newton Haven, 12 pubs in one night, ending at The World’s End. It didn’t go to plan; alcohol getting the better of them, only three of them made it to the ninth pub on the crawl before dropping out, collapsed on the hill outside town.
23 years later, Gary King has reasons to count his regrets, and top of the list is not completing that quest. He wants to go back to Newton Haven and relive that night, and he can’t do that without his friends. But they’re no longer teenagers. Oliver’s big in real estate, Peter is a partner in his father’s car dealership, Steven has a construction company, and Andy’s a lawyer who has no reason to want to see Gary again. With jobs and families, they’ve changed over the years, and what’s more Newton Haven has changed over the years. It really has changed. And the town wants to change Gary and his friends too...
The Disc: The World’s End
The World’s End gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English and DD 2.0 Stereo English audio descriptive with optional English subtitles. It’s a great transfer, clear and sharp, with rich, consistent colours, excellent detail and strong contrast. The audio is similarly exceptional, bringing the action across well, immersing the viewer in the film while keeping the dialogue clear. It seems they nicked my CD collection when it comes to the music in the film. The songs push all my nostalgia buttons, and I’d go looking for a soundtrack CD if I didn’t have the songs already.
Extras: The World’s End
You get one disc in a BD Amaray and a UV code. The disc boots to an animated menu after trailers for 47 Ronin, Oblivion, RIPD, and Kick-Ass 2. And just like the first two films in the trilogy, this disc doesn’t skimp on extra features.
You get a subtitle trivia track with the film, and this time the U-Control only offers picture in picture storyboards, but at least this time you can watch both simultaneously.
There is a Deleted Scene (0:55)
Alternate Edits (4:32)
Completing the Golden Mile – The Making of the World’s End in 2 parts lasts 48:06.
There are four Featurettes
-Director at Work (3:04)
-Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold (3:34)
-Friends Reunited (3:46)
-Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (5:18)
Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World’s End (27:40)
Animatics x2 (11:17)
Hair and Make-up Tests (4:07)
Rehearsal Footage (6:20)
Stunt Tapes x3 (8:46)
Bits & Pieces (3:23)
There’s Only One Gary King – Osymyso’s Inibri-8 Megamix (4:36)
Signs & Omens (7:51)
Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart (13:08)
There are 4 Trailers and 3 TV Spots and 5 Image Galleries
There are three commentaries with the film, one from writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, a Technical Commentary from director Edgar Wright and director of photography Bill Pope, and finally a Cast Commentary from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Paddy Considine.
Conclusion: The World’s End
It’s sci-fi, which is why I like The World’s End more than Shaun of the Dead, although really I shouldn’t. In quite a few ways, The World’s End feels like a remake of Shaun of the Dead, harking back to an approach to sequels that I thought had gone away with the 20th Century. But I found the characters to be more interesting, the script livelier, wittier, and the action really excelled in this film, approaching Matrix levels of intensity on occasion.
In the extras, you can hear Simon Pegg talking about how Gary King is his favourite character to play in the trilogy, because he’s more antagonist than protagonist. It’s a familiar character to us all. There is that tendency for school reunions and the like to have people revert to who they used to be, to better relate to friends that you’re seeing for the first time since childhood, but there’s always one person who takes it too far, the guy who had a blast back then, and never stopped living there. He’s the forty-something guy who thinks that he’s still nineteen, and continues to live that way. That’s Gary King, intent on making the best night of his life (the pub crawl from school graduation) perfect by actually completing all twelve pubs.
He has to lie and cheat to get the gang back together again, four guys that had thought they had moved on from Gary King, and their initial perceptions of Newton Haven don’t help, a town which has changed in some ways since they were last there, but identical in others. There is a whole lot of history and issues that they have to work through, Gary King most of all, and it’s not helping when the idiosyncratic memorable pubs that they remember have now all been bought up and turned into identikit chain pubs. Things are about to get out of hand and fall apart before they’ve barely started when things in Newton Haven go all Stepford, and the five wind up fighting for their lives, and for the fate of the world.
Shaun of the Dead was about the zombie apocalypse, while The World’s End is about an alien invasion, but when it comes to the plot and the structure of the films, and particularly how the alien threat manifests in The World’s End, there is more that is similar about the films than dissimilar. Fighting against zombies and fighting against the body-snatched is much the same, but when it comes down to it, I like The World’s End more. The characters are more interesting and better written, the action is excellent, and the comedy is on point too.
The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy is like the Star Wars Trilogy to me, but backwards. Star Wars was a great space opera fantasy that transported audiences to another galaxy. Return of the Jedi, just like Star Wars went to the same place, an entertaining build to a Death Star finale. And then Empire Strikes Back went and did its own thing, and transcended the other two films completely. With this collection, it’s Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End that mirror each other in terms of plot and story, but the latter film turns out to be better, but still, Hot Fuzz does its own thing, and winds up transcending them both; easily the best of the trilogy. But they are all good films, all three well worth watching and decidedly entertaining, and these discs come so packed with extras that you’ll be enjoying this collection for weeks.