I watched the Cornetto trilogy entirely out of order - starting with the last, followed by the first, and finally the second. Then, I went ahead and rewatched the last one, for good measure.
For those who don't know, the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy is a series of three movies directed by Edgar Wright - Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End. However, unlike most trilogies, the three movies are not parts of the same story, or even set in the same universe. They all deal with different kinds of characters put into different situations. In fact, they do not even belong to the same set of genres. Then what makes them a trilogy? Ice-cream. That and the fact that all three movies star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as protagonists (some other actors too make multiple appearances). The trilogy is named after the Cornetto ice-creams, as each of the movies feature a cameo from one of the flavours (Red in Shaun of the Dead, Blue in Hot Fuzz, and Green in The World's End). This wasn't by design, however, and the series was dubbed thus when director Edgar Wright noticed the presence of the ice-cream brand in two of his movies, and made sure to include it in the last one as well. alternatively, the series is also known by the name The Blood and Ice-Cream Trilogy. In addition to the repeating actors, the movies are threded together by some hilarious running gags, and some themes that overlap. It is also notable that Simon Pegg co-wrote all three movies.
Shaun of the Dead is a milestone of a movie, by becoming one of the best zombie movies while completely poking fun of all the generic tropes, and The World's End is stunningly subversive. But I want to talk about the second movie, Hot Fuzz, which clearly stands above the other two. In my personal opinion, it is the best written, best paced, most engaging and the funniest film of the lot. It certainly helps that Pegg and Frost give some of the best performances of their careers. The premise of the movie is a simple one. Nicolas Angel is a police officer with the London Metropolitan Police Force who is so good at his job that he makes all his co-workers in London look bad. As a result, he is "promoted" and transferred off to Sandford, a village in the countryside, especially known for having almost no real crime in the last three decades.
To begin with, the characters are all so well written. The clearest testament to this is how they all appear to be living embodiments of stereotypes when we first see them, but they are all revealed to be very much layered. For someone like the protagonist Nicolas Angel or the creepy shopowner Simon Skinner, it may even take multiple viewings to truly realize the nuances of their characterization. Angel is introduced to us, through narration, as a character married to his work. however, the movie then goes on to show us exactly how and also the consequences of that, through his loneliness and failed romantic realtionships (by the way, it's Cate Blanchett under the forensic mask, as Angel's ex-girlfriend, an uncredited cameo). Character motivations are also close to perfect, expressed in a way that doesn't shove it in your face. When characters do explain their motivations, it is self-aware and exaggerated, used for comedic effect. This subtle approach results in characters that are extremely real, despite the outlandish world that they may inhabit, and every action, including the transformation at the end makes perfect sense.
Another important aspect of the movie is its references. Wright is famous for referencing other films in his works, and this is no exception. All three movies of the Cornetto trilogy are on one level parodies of certain genres, and so would obviously be filled with references. Hot Fuzz is full of nods to horror classics, cop movies, and over-the-top action flicks, even to the point of recreating certain scenes and shots. But what is more impressive to me are the references to itself. The incredibly skilled writing sets up jokes and plot points so far in advance and so inoccuously that the callbacks are honestly exhilirating. It is truly impressive what Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg crafted.
The genre-bending nature of Hot Fuzz is just mind-blowing. Wikipedia describes the film as a buddy-cop comedy, but that is just scratching the surface. While the most obvious genre classification would be comedy, the movievtransitions effortlessly between many others - like mystery, horror, and action. I am yet to discover the secret of how Wright can turn a conspiracy thriller into a Michael Bay movie, while still mainatining the humour, and still not fall into any serious tonal conflicts.
No discussion about Edgar Wright's movies would be complete without talking about his editing. The brilliant cuts and transitions are where the director shows his hand the most clearly. My favourite sequence is when a murder is being committed as the two protagonists unwittingly sit down to watch a movie. The cuts and the framing of the shots are so organized that the two separate events flow seamlessly into one another. I don't usually like quick cuts, but the way wright uses them is unique and demands a certain respect.
Hot Fuzz is a movie that I would recommend without hesitation. You could also watch the other films in the trilogy so that you don't miss out on the full experience.