Tag: simon pegg

MOVIE REVIEW | Shaun of the Dead (2004)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Pegg and Wright might have delivered one of the all time great slacker comedies, but it’s their obvious hard work and attention to every single last detail that makes it such a breeze to watch.”

Shaun 1.jpg
“How’s that for a slice of fried gold?”

These days, Simon Pegg is an actor and writer with a fervent cult following, as well as ever growing roles in two massive cinematic franchises with the Mission Impossible and rebooted Star Trek series.  These days, Edgar Wright is the kind of director who can put together a cast including Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm for some throwback, action, genre fun.  But back in 2004, they were just two dudes who’d made a couple of series of a mildly successful sitcom with a small but rabid fan base, with virtually no notoriety outside of their native UK.  Not only was the transformation to international A-listers immediate, it was also totally justified, by Shaun of the Dead.

At his local pub the Winchester, Shaun (Pegg) is questioned by his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield as Liz) about his aimless life, consisting of his lazy best friend Ed (Nick Frost), his reluctance to introduce Liz to his mother (Penelope Wilton as Barbara) and is overall avoidance of growing up, generally achieved by hanging out with Ed at the Winchester.  When an attempt to celebrate their anniversary is botched by Shaun’s slacker uselessness, Liz’s threats become a reality and Shaun’s world comes crashing down. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)

mission_impossible_rogue_nation-wide
“The Syndicate is real. A rogue nation, trained to do what we do.”

In 2015, it feels like more movies are part of a franchise than not.  Actors sign on for multi year, multi movie deals to play the same character again and again.  And Marvel can announce its upcoming movies for the next half dozen years. It’s made sequels seem a little less cash grabby and cynical, and more ambitious.  For some reason, studios being open in advance about plans  to milk us for years’ worth of cash from the same characters seems more OK than the old days, when a movie would be a surprise hit, then they’d slap together a sequel to get some more of our cash.  But now, that old system of ad hoc sequels seems almost charming.  It’s taken 20 years, five directors, and seemingly no plan, but the Mission: Impossible series remains the throwback franchise exception to the modern day franchise rule.  And that continues with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.


Picking up directly after the events of 2011’s Ghost Protocol, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF spy colleagues are on the trail of the Syndicate, the shadowy organisation of bad guys discovered in the last movie.  After an amazing stunt with Cruise on the outside of a plane that deserves all the hype it got in the lead up to this movie’s release, IMF comes under the investigation of the US government and CIA Chief Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin).  It seems IMF’s missions have become a little too loose and Hunley thinks they should be more heavily regulated, or even better, disbanded completely. (more…)

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | The World’s End

worlds-end

The Cornetto Trilogy…  Three Flavours Cornetto…  Call it what you will, but this particular series epitomised by the names Pegg, Frost and Wright is over, and that kind of sucks.  At least they finished in real style with The World’s End.


Ten years ago, Pegg and Wright were respectively the co-creator / co-star and director of a cult Brit com, with Frost playing a minor, but scene stealing  recurring character on the same show.  Then came Shaun of the Dead, the self appointed zom-rom-com to launch them out of England and into the film world.  It was backed up four years later when Hot Fuzz proved they could handle the pressures that came with a bigger budget and bigger profile.  Since then, Wright directed the tragically underrated and under seen Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, while Pegg and Frost teamed up to co-write and co-star in the kind of disposable Paul.

Although it’s technically an ensemble, Pegg is still in the role the main character, with Frost playing his former best friend and second lead.  Their group is rounded out by Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan, each filling out a place in the character archetype rainbow.  Almost a quarter of century ago, they unsuccessfully set out on an epic pub crawl in their small home town as teenagers, now, Pegg’s Gary King is determined to make sure they complete as adults what alluded them all those years ago.

The first act is all about showing us Gary King’s arrested development, contrasted with his friends’ natural aging into family men with careers and responsibilities.  While they’ve been growing up, Gary has been wallowing in his memories as the king of their adolescence, who’s life peaked back then.  But because this screenplay has Pegg and Wright’s names on it, there’s no way the story can stay that small.  As they leave more and more empty pint glasses in their wake, the quintet become more and more suspicious of their once boring home town.  And before you know it, they’re fighting off a robot invasion.  Only they’re not robots.  But are they?  Well no.  But yes.  But who knows, really?

Edgar Wright has one of the most distinct styles of any director working today.  He manages an effortless cool that never seems like he’s trying too hard.  The smash cuts, whip pans and frenetic pace that have become his signatures always seem to have just the right amount of affection and straight face, while also winking at the audience and enhancing the comedy at the same time.  And while the zombie attacks of Shaun of the Dead looked menacing enough, and the action movie cliché tribute finale of Hot Fuzz packed a punch, The World’s End shows Wright has only become better and better with directing action.  The fight scenes, and there are a lot,  are genuinely impressive.  Nick Frost going full on Wolverine berserker rage attack with bar stools attached to each hand instead of adamantium claws is more impressive than anything is Pacific Rim.  And I really dug Pacific Rim.

Pegg’s Gary King is not the kind of hero you’ve seen before.  His titular character in Shaun of the Dead was a slacker, but loveable.  Nicholas Angel of Hot Fuzz was an uptight perfectionist who learned how to lighten up and enjoy the simple things in life (like a Cornetto).  Gary King is a selfish, manipulative, immature, arrogant asshole.  And at the same time, the perfect hero to lead a revolution against Earth’s invasion.

But the best thing about The World’s End, the really impressive bit, is that through all the cranked up action scenes, through the heavy themes of lost youth and lost friendships, through life and death peril at every turn, even with a man who should be the least likeable hero in movie history…  Through all that, The World’s End is really, really funny.  All five of the core group get moments to shine and none drop the ball.  Even Frost, who initially seemed miscast as the conservative one, totally owns the character early in his first scene and almost becomes the heart of the group of friends, and the movie itself.

I see Shaun of the Dead as a movie about growing up and accepting that you’re an adult and the responsibilities that come with it.  Hot Fuzz said there’s no point in controlling every aspect of your life if maintaining that control means you can never actually stop and enjoy it.  The World’s End puts a bow on the trilogy, telling us how important it is to accept who you are now, not who you were or who you thought you were supposed to become.  That and drinking.  So much drinking.

The World’s End
Directed By – Edgar Wright
Written By – Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright

MOVIE REVIEW | World War Z (2013)

world_war_z
The huge leap in zombie popularity has been pretty amazing over the last decade or so.  Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright kicked off their feature film careers with Shaun of the Dead.  George Romero, the Godfather of the genre came back in a big way with Land of the Dead, and The Walking Dead went from being one of the world’s biggest comic books to being one of the world’s biggest TV shows.  So, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood got involved with a massive movie star, a massive budget and massive special effects.  And all of that adds to a pretty decent movie with World War Z.

Traditionally, zombie movies concentrate on a small, isolated group of survivors in one location.  With World War Z, the scope is just a little bigger.  On a perfect suburban morning, in a perfect suburban home, surrounded by his perfect suburban family, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) sees a report of some sort of virus outbreak on TV. His daughter delivers a piece of handy expositional dialogue to let us know this current house husband used to have some sort of high end gig with the UN in war torn countries.  The family then sets off and gets stuck in traffic in downtown Philadelphia.  The traffic jam is soon revealed to be an all out riot as the entire city loses its shit.

Gerry uses his UN connections to get evacuated by helicopter and his family is soon safe aboard a US Navy ship.  Here he learns the virus he saw on telly has basically spread worldwide, turning the afflicted into zombies.  This then sets off a globetrotting romp as Pitt travels to Korea, Israel and Wales in search of the cause of the virus and a hopefully a cure.

As far as big budget actioners go, World War Z won’t go down in history as a classic, but it’s perfectly fine.  Pitt’s a believable enough hero and the story moves along at a cracking pace.  Maybe a little too quick.  The constant changing of locations and mini missions give is it a bit of video game feel.  Stage 1: Escape Philadelphia.  Stage 2: Korea.  Stage 3: Jerusalem.  Stage 4: Wales.

But the major letdown is the special effects.  World War Z proves that CGI technology still isn’t good enough to seamlessly integrate computer generated people with real people in the same shot at the same time.  They just don’t move right, like they’re not subject to the same laws of gravity.  And even after the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this thing, they still just look like cartoons.

Before it was even released, there was a lot of negative buzz about World War ‘s major rewrites and reshoots.  While I generally really liked the ending, I think the rewrites seem more obvious in earlier parts.  Things get set up, but don‘t have a pay off.  Pitt’s family basically adopts a small boy after his family his killed, which seems like it will probably lead somewhere.  Instead, you just see the kid in the background here and there, hanging around like a bad smell.  Pitt’s family is sent away from the navy ship and you think this might play into the story somewhere, until it doesn’t.

But even with those small quibbles, there’s a lot more to like than dislike in World War Z.  Especially the ending.  In a movie that indulges in massive action sequences from the second it starts, the relatively subdued final obstacle was great surprise.  The downside of that ending?  It’s a clear setup for a sequel that just doesn’t seem necessary.

World War Z
Directed By – Marc Forster
Written By – Mathew Michal Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof

MOVIE REVIEW | The World’s End (2013)

worlds-end

The Cornetto Trilogy…  Three Flavours Cornetto…  Call it what you will, but this particular series epitomised by the names Pegg, Frost and Wright is over, and that kind of sucks.  At least they finished in real style with The World’s End.


Ten years ago, Pegg and Wright were respectively the co-creator / co-star and director of a cult Brit com, with Frost playing a minor, but scene stealing  recurring character on the same show.  Then came Shaun of the Dead, the self appointed zom-rom-com to launch them out of England and into the film world.  It was backed up four years later when Hot Fuzz proved they could handle the pressures that came with a bigger budget and bigger profile.  Since then, Wright directed the tragically underrated and under seen Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, while Pegg and Frost teamed up to co-write and co-star in the kind of disposable Paul.

Although it’s technically an ensemble, Pegg is still in the role the main character, with Frost playing his former best friend and second lead.  Their group is rounded out by Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan, each filling out a place in the character archetype rainbow.  Almost a quarter of century ago, they unsuccessfully set out on an epic pub crawl in their small home town as teenagers, now, Pegg’s Gary King is determined to make sure they complete as adults what alluded them all those years ago.

The first act is all about showing us Gary King’s arrested development, contrasted with his friends’ natural aging into family men with careers and responsibilities.  While they’ve been growing up, Gary has been wallowing in his memories as the king of their adolescence, who’s life peaked back then.  But because this screenplay has Pegg and Wright’s names on it, there’s no way the story can stay that small.  As they leave more and more empty pint glasses in their wake, the quintet become more and more suspicious of their once boring home town.  And before you know it, they’re fighting off a robot invasion.  Only they’re not robots.  But are they?  Well no.  But yes.  But who knows, really?

Edgar Wright has one of the most distinct styles of any director working today.  He manages an effortless cool that never seems like he’s trying too hard.  The smash cuts, whip pans and frenetic pace that have become his signatures always seem to have just the right amount of affection and straight face, while also winking at the audience and enhancing the comedy at the same time.  And while the zombie attacks of Shaun of the Dead looked menacing enough, and the action movie cliché tribute finale of Hot Fuzz packed a punch, The World’s End shows Wright has only become better and better with directing action.  The fight scenes, and there are a lot,  are genuinely impressive.  Nick Frost going full on Wolverine berserker rage attack with bar stools attached to each hand instead of adamantium claws is more impressive than anything is Pacific Rim.  And I really dug Pacific Rim.

Pegg’s Gary King is not the kind of hero you’ve seen before.  His titular character in Shaun of the Dead was a slacker, but loveable.  Nicholas Angel of Hot Fuzz was an uptight perfectionist who learned how to lighten up and enjoy the simple things in life (like a Cornetto).  Gary King is a selfish, manipulative, immature, arrogant asshole.  And at the same time, the perfect hero to lead a revolution against Earth’s invasion.

But the best thing about The World’s End, the really impressive bit, is that through all the cranked up action scenes, through the heavy themes of lost youth and lost friendships, through life and death peril at every turn, even with a man who should be the least likeable hero in movie history…  Through all that, The World’s End is really, really funny.  All five of the core group get moments to shine and none drop the ball.  Even Frost, who initially seemed miscast as the conservative one, totally owns the character early in his first scene and almost becomes the heart of the group of friends, and the movie itself.

I see Shaun of the Dead as a movie about growing up and accepting that you’re an adult and the responsibilities that come with it.  Hot Fuzz said there’s no point in controlling every aspect of your life if maintaining that control means you can never actually stop and enjoy it.  The World’s End puts a bow on the trilogy, telling us how important it is to accept who you are now, not who you were or who you thought you were supposed to become.  That and dinking.  So much drinking.

Directed By – Edgar Wright
Written By – Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright