Edgar Wright

Edgar Wright

Right now, the words “Edgar Wright” are synonymous with “not directing Ant-Man.” It’s gotta be tough for the director, not only to have sunk so many years into a film only to end up walking away, but to be bombarded by Peyton Reed this and Peyton Reed that any time he opens an internet browser. At least Wright’s moving on in a healthy fashion. Deadline reports that the English film wonder has decided on his next project. The title? Baby Driver. The details? Practically nonexistant. Here’s an exhaustive list of what we know so far: Baby Driver will team Wright with producer Nira Park and Working Title Films (this is superb news, as the same pairing brought us Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End). It will probably have nothing to do with Simon Pegg or Nick Frost (they’re busy enough as it is — Frost has a TV show called Mr. Sloane and Pegg has six films in the pipeline). The film will be “a collision of crime, action, music and sound.” If that’s just a smidge too vague, Baby Driver was described in slightly more detail when Wright first brought it up in 2009. So forget the collision thing and instead consider it “a wild spin on the action and crime genre which will be set in the US.” Actually, as far as rampant speculation goes, Wright wrote a script in 2011 that he described as “kind of like a musical.” So maybe don’t forget the collision thing (at […]

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Marvel Ant-Man Test Sneak 3

When Edgar Wright left Ant-Man, a lot of excitement for the film went out the door with him. His involvement is what made the project so appealing in the first place. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World showed the director isn’t interested in making a run-of-the-mill comic book movie, but doing something fresh, new, and its own thing. Of course, that’s not the kind of comic book movie we see often enough. Since Wright left Ant-Man over creative differences, was it a matter of Marvel balking over taking some risks? That’s what a lot of fans understandably suspect. After seeing James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s difficult to fathom Marvel getting cold feet over taking another risk. Guardians of the Galaxy is a superhero movie with a talking raccoon, some good old-fashioned dick jokes, and, basically, more of what you’d expect from James Gunn (Slither). Guardians doesn’t feel like a project Gunn had to make compromises on, but instead got to make a movie he can call his own that happened to cost $150m. Perhaps taking chances wasn’t the problem with Ant-Man. Maybe it really was just two different visions that couldn’t see eye-to-eye.

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The Worlds End Movie

For fans who like to recreate movie moments, The World’s End offers a destructively inebriated challenge. One night, twelve pints, twelve pubs. If you’re trying to be authentic, alien robots and a deep sense of foreshadowing are must-haves. In the movie, Gary King (Simon Pegg) forces his friends to take a second stab at the Golden Mile pub crawl with no regard for age, teetotaling or blue goo-filled beings trying to remove their personalities. When they were kids, they missed the finish line by three pubs, and even though their middle-aged attempt is marred by the fate of the entire planet, King valiantly soldiers on. That got me thinking: what would it take to survive a real-life Golden Mile?

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Ant-Man

Originally, the Ant-Man movie didn’t need a director. There was no search to be launched, no shortlist, no dream team, no meeting-taking. Weirdly, the movie really needed a studio — sort of. Of course an Ant-Man movie would be a Marvel movie, but Marvel Studios was long resistant to launch the title, even with filmmaker Edgar Wright so famously gung-ho on the gig and so firmly attached to directing the thing, no matter when the studio finally decided that the mid-level, ant-sized superhero really could fit into its grand vision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The director and the studio went back and forth for years before Marvel officially set Wright for the job and announced that, hey, they’re actually making the movie. That, of course, all changed two weeks ago, when Wright left the project (one he’s been working on for nearly a decade) over creative differences. In the relatively scant time since, Marvel has scrambled to find a new director (or, at the very least, that’s what it looks like from the outside) with continually disappointing results. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Is there some kind of timeline we can look at? There is! Behold — a brief history of the search for the Ant-Man director who was already in place for nearly this entire time before everything went to hell.

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Marvel Ant-Man Test Sneak 2

In a crushing blow to fans of both Edgar Wright and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was announced this afternoon via the Hollywood Reporter that the director has walked away from Ant-Man due to creative differences. It’s a surprise given that Wright has been attached to this movie in some form or another for the better part of a decade, and he appeared to be extremely excited and optimistic and, most importantly, creatively satisfied with how it was all going. Apparently that wasn’t the case, at least not of late. Marvel claims its an amicable separation, which is fine for them but like any children of divorce can tell you, it’s not just about the ones going their separate ways. The studio also claims it already has a replacement in mind, which is like hearing Mom already has a step-father on tap for us. And he’s someone more accepting of the orgiastic lifestyle that Mom is accustomed to. Oh, and the release date remains as July 17, 2015, which is like telling us that the vacation to Disney World we’d been planning on for the whole family is still happening, only now with that new guy coming with instead of Dad. 

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Shaun of the Dead Romance

On the 10th anniversary of Shaun of the Dead opening in UK theaters, let’s talk about love. Not just the love we have for Edgar Wright‘s 2004 zom-rom-com but the love that is explored in the rom-com side of that genre-splicing equation. Forget the zed word. Pretend there’s no zombies in the movie at all. They drive the plot but they’re not really relevant to the story, which is of a relationship on the rocks and the obstacles in its way of succeeding. The zombie element only exacerbates (a word I genuinely learned from this movie) the situation, heightening the tension and increasing the difficulty level while also providing a mechanism through which the main characters are able to more easily get over their relationship hurdles. I use the term “difficulty level” because, in a way, Shaun of the Dead is like a romance video game where different bosses have to be defeated in order for Shaun (Simon Pegg, who also co-wrote the script with Wright) to win back his princess, Liz (Kate Ashfield). Wright would, of course, later do the same thing very literally in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and here not all the “bosses” are in fact adversarial obstacles, at least not before they’re turned into undead monsters. The two most advanced stages of the game, for instance, involve Shaun’s mum and best mate. And if you’re a grown man in a serious relationship, maybe even marriage, you should identify with just how tough those stages are […]

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Shaun of the Dead

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douglas

Fans of Marvel Comics have been wondering how the Marvel cinematic universe was going to handle the character of Hank Pym for a while now. The real confusion started when it was announced that the Avengers sequel would be subtitled Age of Ultron, it would feature the evil robot Ultron as its primary antagonist, and it would be released before Edgar Wright’s long-gestating Ant-Man project could hit theaters. You see, in the comics the Ultron character was created by Pym, who is also one of the founding members of the Avengers and is probably better known as the title character of the Ant-Man movie. So how could the Marvel movies introduce a creation of Pym’s before they introduce Pym himself? Would they actually have the character appear in Avengers 2, before he could be properly introduced in his own standalone film? In a word, no. But fans who have been keeping a close eye on the development of all these Marvel movies can tell you that there are perfectly reasonable answers to all of these questions already out there, and a new announcement that involves Michael Douglas being cast in Ant-Man has just come along and wrapped everything up into a nice little package.

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Ant-Man

Well, that was fast. Overnight, news broke that Paul Rudd was in negotiations to star as Ant-Man for Edgar Wright’s Marvel movie. Now we’ve got some footage of the actor testing out the suit from an inside source. It’s obviously not theater quality, but it’s a clear look at the design for the character, and the action is far more intense then you’d expect from a typical screen test. It starts deep in a forest where the hero is fighting (rather futilely) against a diabolical, technologically advanced piece of weaponry — and it’s all downhill from there. For those doubting Rudd can handle the badass nature of a superhero, prepare to be sold:

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Paul Rudd - The Shape of Things

There’s your Hank Pym everyone. To be fair, he could be Scott Lang or Eric O’Grady, but he’s definitely Ant-Man. According to The Wrap, Paul Rudd has begun negotiations to play the shrinking superhero for Edgar Wright‘s 2015 film. The only thing the article gets wrong is in calling Ant-Man a comedic character. There’s no doubt that Wright will bring some dry humor to the project, but the main character is a committed man of science, often singularly-focused, majorly conflicted and (thanks to Ultron) sometimes deeply unstable. But it’s easy to make the comic connection to Rudd. In the past few years, he’s settled into a public image as a semi-Straight Man comedian. Judd Apatow and Anchorman have ensured that, but his range as an actor is far larger than a disarming smile and unblinking delivery. For some, be’ll always be Josh from Clueless (or some grown-up variation), but the reason Rudd’s casting in Ant-Man is so perfect is his work as the desperate loser Adam Sorenson in The Shape of Things. Weakness, aggression, massive inner conflict, uneasiness and a profound lack of self-esteem were all present alongside genuine joy and kindness. I’m not saying those attributes will color Ant-Man, but it’s reassuring to know that Rudd can build a rounded character with the ability to drop jaws and break hearts. If you don’t need that in your CGI-fest, no sweat. Personally, I think it’s time we expect more from our superhero movies. Marvel has earned a lot of trust with their track record […]

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Edgar Wright

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cc the worlds end

The Cornetto Trilogy is the comedic equivalent of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy for at least two reasons. First, all three films are pretty goddamn fantastic, and second, they’re not even really a trilogy. There’s no actual storyline or characters that repeat across the films, but some common themes (along with the presence of Cornetto ice cream) have turned the trio into an unofficial collective. The World’s End is the latest and last (after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), and there’s a very good chance it’s the best of the three. Edgar Wright directs and co-writes (again) with star Simon Pegg to deliver a smart, very funny, and truly engaging piece of entertainment, and as has continually been the case, they’ve filled it with a brilliant cast. Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan join Pegg as five friends attempting to revisit their youth who find an unexpected surprise instead. All of Wright’s films come loaded with gags and references, but this one beats them all in the sheer detailed genius of its structure and execution. Multiple viewings are required to catch them all, but the Wright and Pegg do a good job of highlighting several moments of foreshadowing and hints at what’s to come on their commentary track.

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news antman

We’ve still got four more Marvel movies to chew through before getting to Edgar Wright‘s Ant-Man, but that means so very little to a company built on teasing films far, far in advance. And as far as teases go, the picture Wright just released on his Twitter is about as vague as they come. There’s a man, and he’s wearing some form of ant-suit (one looking very similar to what we saw in that Ant-Man teaser footage a few years back). He’s crouched in front of a camera and a blue screen. Alongside the image comes a message from Wright: “Now I’m back in LA, it’s high time to finish a little something I’ve been working on…” Sneek a peek at the picture below:

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ant-man-movie-logo

Deciding that their pint-sized hero would make for better summer fare (or losing confidence that he would be a prestige contender for Oscar season…), Marvel has shifted Ant-Man‘s release date from November 2015 to the end of that July according to Deadline Hollywood. It’s not just a gamble because the character isn’t well known; it’s a move that bets heavily on audiences not being exhausted by superheroes by that point in the blockbuster season. There’s The Fantastic Four in early March, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in May and Batman vs Superman in July. There’s also Assassin’s Creed, a new Terminator, a second Independence Day and a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean to add to a bloat that could threaten to make Ant-Man just another tentpole to add to the pile. It’s awesome news for fans at any rate. We’ve been waiting for this thing since the first wave of Marvel flicks, so shaving off a few months is certainly welcome, and the promise that the scheduling change is a confidence move is even more exciting. In Edgar Wright we trust. But even with the Marvel logo and the Avengers bump, it feels a bit like Pacific Rim Redux. You’ve got a beloved film fandom director tackling a decidedly niche geek figure at the tail end of an explosion-filled few months of eye fatigue. There’s danger there not only for the studio, but for all of us who need a break from spandex once in a while.

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get into the movies

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. If you’re any kind of fan of Edgar Wright‘s films, including his latest, The World’s End, you’ll have gone back and seen Spaced, the popular British TV series credited as the breakthrough for him and regular collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. But if you’re a diehard Edgar Wright fan, you’ll know all about the earliest origins of the filmmaker. About the short films he made as a teenager and the evolution of cameras and formats he shot on all the way, and how that evolution occurred. Wright made his first short film, Rolf Harris Saves the World, with a Super 8 camera with a bunch of friends when he was only 14. Only five minutes long, it has a Die Hard-type plot in which the titular Australian TV personality (as played by a friend and dubbed by Wright) is the hero. Soon after he made a half-hour sequel, Rolf Harris 2: The Bearded One (not to be confused with Rolf Harris Saves the World Part 2, which I think is something he made in college). His first real break came a few years later with a clever stop-motion animated short titled I Want to Get Into the Movies, which won a competition in support of Comic Relief and was shown on the BBC program Going Live! Inspired by Sesame Street animations, the three-minute silent work is about […]

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worldsend08

It’s pretty clear that Edgar Wright and his sometime co-writer/star Simon Pegg are movie junkies. Their series Spaced was all about allusions to their TV and film favorites, while the first two installments of the “Cornetto trilogy,” Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, were tributes to zombie and action flicks, respectively. With The World’s End, the homage and referencing continues. Even though the message of the movie is to move forward not backward, and even though it’s apparently a veiled criticism of Hollywood’s own nostalgic impulses, it’s okay for a movie this clever to have its influences and predecessors as long as the acknowledgment is through nods to the past works rather than a recycling or cloning of them. One key difference between what Wright does and what the remake/reboot machine does is he provides a gateway to older movies and the machine creates a substitution, a replacement. As a true movie lover, Wright is known for hosting programs of beloved classics and cult classics, usually in hopes of introducing his fans to stuff they’ve never seen. He also likes to name other films that have informed his work and are worth checking out either prior to or after seeing his movies. The following list is not all selections that he has credited nor that he would necessarily endorse. It’s a combination of some of his picks (found mentioned elsewhere) and some of my own, some obvious and some not, some great and some just worth a look for […]

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Worlds End Aliens

“Starbucking,” as it’s used in Edgar Wright’s The World’s End, is the process by which something unique – in this case, a small town British pub – is removed of all its character. In the “Village Voice,” Simon Pegg elaborated that nostalgia’s “all about comfort and familiarity and Starbucks creates … a nostalgia in the present, a benign sense of comfort by making everything look the same.” What’s striking about that sentence is if you substitute “Starbucks” for “Hollywood,” you get a pretty apt description of the studio system’s problematic gluttony for movie sequels, reboots and remakes. Which isn’t as arbitrary a substitution to make as it seems, given Wright has acknowledged that The World’s End was designed in part to be a play on cinematic “Starbucking” and how a “lot of movies [today] are about nostalgia, about recreating things from childhood… [and how big] studio films are either remakes of films from 20 years ago, or adaptation of toys or inspired by things from your childhood.” With that as a guiding nudge, other substitutions become possible. Ones that turn The World’s End – a film critical of a man-child’s inability to abandon the past – into a film representative and critical of those Hollywood nostalgic impulses which forego or replace movies with character and originality with safer, uninspired rehashes of past properties. That criticism resides foremost in Gary King (Simon Pegg) who is addicted to the world he knew when he was younger. King is desperate to reassemble a […]

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hotfuzz-commentary1

After making a splash with the zom-com Shaun of the Dead in 2004, Edgar Wright teamed up again with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost to make another send-up of a beloved genre. Hot Fuzz deconstructed the buddy cop action film genre with a hilarious and fresh perspective. Only after the production did Wright and Pegg, who co-wrote the film together, stumble on the Cornetto connection, which paved the way for the production of the eventual finale The World’s End. Upon the release of Hot Fuzz, Wright and Pegg sat down to record a commentary track, which is available on both the DVD and Blu-ray. There are other commentaries available on the film, depending on which release you get, but this is the most common one, and the most contained.

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Edgar Wright

For most of us, our perfect Sunday includes a quiet read of the paper, a piping cup of our favorite tea leaf or coffee bean-based beverage and a hundredth screening of one of Edgar Wright‘s movies. With Shaun of the Dead and everything beyond, he’s been able to blend intimate character arcs (right down to the music) with genre tropes in a way that pretty much no one else has managed. He’s lovingly subverted genres while delivering us new fence-hopping heroes and a honed sense of comedy. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man famous for his work on Going Live!.

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