Film Review: The World’s End
Director: Edgar Wright
Producer: Nira Park
Studio: Relativety Media, Working Title Productions
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
The third and final installment of the critically acclaimed ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ “The World’s End” follows a group of friends who decide to reunite after twenty years apart to conquer a pub crawl they failed during their teenage years. However as the night begins the group soon realizes that something is very wrong in their hometown of Newton Haven…
We’ve had to wait six years since Hot Fuzz for Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost to iron out their now-busy Hollywood schedules and finish off what is arguably the best comedic trilogy in cinema for the past decade: The Cornetto Trilogy. Whilst other series’ such as “The Hangover” or “Scary Movie” have long-since jumped the shark this triology; “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, and now “The World’s End” have either maintained their high standard of comedy or arguably gotten better with each installment. This trilogy has many many great things going for it but I would say that the best it has, apart from the obvious top-tier script writing, is that like it’s title implies there are many flavors of genre on offer here. “Shaun of the Dead” was a loving satire of zombie-cinema such as “Dawn of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz” was likewise an affectionate satire of buddy-cop films like “Bad Boys”, and “The World’s End” rounds out the menu for those who love Science-Fiction films both new and old. The film that I feel this one draws the most inspiration from is “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (both the 1956 and 1978 versions).
The story primarily follows Gary King (Simon Pegg), a hedonistic alcoholic who peaked in high school and who is subsequently stuck at the cigarette end of his teenage years. Gary decides to track down the estranged friends he has not seen for twenty years and complete the “Golden Mile”, a legendary pub crawl consisting of twelve pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. The group tried to conquer the crawl as teenagers, but failed to reach the final pub, “The World’s End”. Gary tracks down and convinces his old friends Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) and Andrew Knightley (Nick Frost) to join him for one last attempt at beating the golden mile. It always feels odd returning to a nostalgic place after so long but as the night begins the group quickly realizes that something else entirely, something sinister and potentially life-threatening, has happened to Newton Haven in their absence… It’s inhabitants have all been replaced by killer-robot duplicates! Fearing that the robots will begin a worldwide invasion if they realize that their cover is blown the group resolves to finish the pub crawl and leave Newton Haven without raising suspicion. Beer, sleeping dogs being awoken, killer robots, and an abundance of blunt objects… what could possibly go wrong?
What really makes “The World’s End” work is it’s cast. Simon Pegg’s Gary King is perhaps the embodiment of the term ‘Man Child’; whilst his friends now have adult lives and responsibilities such as jobs and families, Gary has changed very little since the group last met and remains as untrustworthy and impulsive as ever – unable to move on from his premature peak. The way Pegg depicts his character reminded me of Rob Corddry in “Hot Tub Time Machine” as the characters are very similar in both concept and mannerisms. Gary’s enduring temperance instantly puts him on a collision course with his old friends and the interactions they have are both entertaining and surprisingly somber at times. The tension between the friends continues even when the gravity of their predicament becomes clear and the moments when they collide, which they frequently do, are easily the film’s funniest parts.
The social side of the story, whilst it’s strongest suit, doesn’t really detract from it’s flip side involving an impending alien/robot invasion of Earth. A cornucopia of science fiction references ranging from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Terminator”, “War of the Worlds” and even to “Aliens” can be spotted by the perceptive eye. These films in general have been great examples of how to pull off referential humor in comedies without blatantly horse-shoeing it in and things are no-less smoother here. Granted the references here didn’t strike as big a chord as the ones in Hot Fuzz did but I can still recognize and acknowledge clever writing when I see it, and it is indeed here. The fact that I didn’t get as much out of the referential comedy here as I did in Hot Fuzz isn’t the film’s problem, it’s mine. Even if you are not a fan of science-fiction cinema you will still get something out of the film but you’ll be getting a single whiskey and coke rather than a double.
There really is not a whole lot of problems I can attribute to “The World’s End”, there really isn’t. The cast is great, the writing is clever, the pacing is right-on-the-money, the premise is made suitably bizarre by juxtaposing a serious scenario against the backdrop of something as trivial as a pub crawl, and there are cameo’s a-plenty to watch out for. The comedy and situations portrayed here don’t just appeal to British audiences either. It doesn’t matter if you are American, French, German, Japanese, or Australian: You will be able to get on board with an alien/robot invasion story and can understand the social conflicts between Gary and his friends. It’s very clever writing in that respect, all-inclusive but still retains a distinctly ‘British’ vibe much like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Unfortunately… I must end this on a drab note… With this film being said-and-done that means the “Cornetto Trilogy” is now finished. I really hope that British comedy, widely acknowledged to be among the best in the world by many, does not recede into obscurity in the coming years.
Final Score: 9/10
+ Highly entertaining story which incorporates elements of science-fiction and male mid-life discontent.
+ Engaging cast.
+ Outrageously funny at times, somber at others.
+ Pacing is perfect.
+ Unexpected ending!
– Some viewers, especially if they are not savvy with the referential comedy on offer, might not “get it”.
– No more installments to look forward to in the immediate future…