I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 15 years.
Full disclosure: Edgar Wright’s very first movie was a Western parody called A Fistful of Fingers (that title is priceless). But there isn’t a copy anywhere to be found, online or otherwise. So if Edgar Wright’s parents have a VHS copy somewhere in the family attic, I would be glad to screen it.
Having stated that, British director Edgar Wright’s most recent film, Last Night in Soho, opened on October 29, 2021, after a year-long delay due to COVID-19. Since we've all had time to see it, here are all seven of his theatrically released films ranked from best to worst.
Just because, here’s Wright’s fake trailer for Don’t featured in 2007’s Grindhouse. If you like/remember this trailer, you know this perfectly captures the tone and wit of most of Wright’s films.
1. Hot Fuzz (2007)
The second film of Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with stars Nick Frost and Simon Pegg sends up American action movies, buddy cop dynamics, and swans. The divide between Hot Fuzz and second ranked film (below) is microscopic, and if I had written this list on a different day, Hot Fuzz might have been ranked second. But it’s not.
Why does this squeak into the top spot? The gleeful violence and the supporting cast. It’s unexpectedly gory, but you laugh anyway. It’s not just Frost and Pegg’s show, as the laughs and well distributed. Characters played by Oscar Winner Jim Broadbent describing a beard and future Oscar Winner Olivia Colman saying one word (“Murder”) deserve their own tangent movie. Or at least a series on Britbox or Acorn.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The first film of the Cornetto trilogy wasn’t the first to parody zombies. But it is one of the best and most memorable. Those who call themselves fans seem to know every…single…line. As endearing as it is annoying. Wright’s “rom-com…with zombies” has as much heart as it does blood.
Even without the zombies, Shaun’s (Pegg) quest to win back Liz (Kate Ashfield) works as well or better than most romantic comedies at the time (probably starring Matthew McConaughey before his 20-teens McConanaisance) because the characters are so well drawn. You’ve got red on you…r cheeks from laughing so hard.
3. Baby Driver (2017)
Featuring some of the best car chases of the 2000s, Baby Driver irresistible alchemy of comedy and action keeps you off balance because as you laugh you realize the life-and-death stakes are very real. The trailer wonderfully mislead audiences into thinking this would be a standard comedy with a smattering of generic action. The first scene puts the drive in Driver as you’re practically exhausted before you hit the film’s first 15 minutes.
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Featuring Kevin Spacey (back when he was actually hired for things), Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm as more than formidable obstacles for our baby-faced Baby (Ansel Elgort, endearing without being treacly). The burgeoning romance between Baby and Lily James’ Debora is better written than you’d expect in movies like this and makes you wish for a sequel that will never happen. At its worst, there’s too much white boy dancing, but it’s a small price to pay for such a hybrid rush of adrenaline.
4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Opened the same weekend as The Expendables, this film got crushed at the box-office, but it has gained a massive cult following leading to be played every 48 hours on Comedy Central. I’ve never read the graphic novel on which the film is based, but the movie’s good enough that it makes me want to. Scott fighting all of Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead in fine manic pixie form) exes, while entertaining, does get repetitive after Brandon Routh gets stripped of his vegan powers.
Future stars Brie Larson, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza sting in tiny roles, and Chris Evans previews his future in comic book movies. Oh, and Scott himself (back when Michael Cera was cast in lead roles) is such an awful, whiny character that it’s a tribute to Edgar Wright’s command of style and the wonderfully rendered action sequences that you almost don’t mind such a d-bag of a lead.
5. Last Night In Soho (2021)
Edgar Wright’s (with co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns) late 60s London Giallo is entertaining, if more than a bit repetitive during the film’s first hour. The movie looks wonderful and does its best to distract from the fact that it’s been spinning its wheels for the first two acts. You’re never bored, but you do hope the mystery’s wrap up is worth it considering how long you’ve taken laying out the ground work.
It satisfies. Mostly. You like it but there’s a part of you that knows it should have been better. You admire the attempt but know the finished film should have been better.
6. The Sparks Brothers (2021)
A music documentary of a band I was never familiar with, but Edgar Wright is clearly a fanboy because he says so more than once during the movie. It’s a very lengthy 2 hours and 20 minutes, but you’re never bored unless you’re turned off by the Sparks’ music.
It’s a film made with love featuring archival footage and interviews from famous fans. Standard music documentary stuff, but it’s made in such a jaunty fashion that even if you’re not a fan you still can’t help but be entertained. Did I become an enthusiast after I saw the movie? Not really, but I can see the movie attracting new listeners of all ages. You barely even notice it’s about 30 minutes too long.
7. The World’s End (2013)
The third and least effective of the Cornetto trilogy. It’s an incredibly entertaining movie with some inspired sequences, but you’ve been spoiled by the two previous genre neo-classics that World’s End almost can’t help but come up short. Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead set an impossibly high standard.
You’re never bored, but you can’t help but feel that Wright, Pegg and Frost are repeating themselves and that none of what goes on during the movie feels fresh. Is it the end of the world that World’s End brings up the rear? Hardly. You still should hop a fence to see this if you haven’t.
Before you spend Halloween with Last Night in Soho, be sure to revisit Edgar Wright’s previous six movies. Wright is set to direct a remake of The Running Man, but you won’t have to run too far to see any of Wright’s movies.
Sorry about that last line.