Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin freeman, Rosamund Pike
Release date: July 19th, 2013
Distributors: Universal Pictures, Focus Features
Running time: 109 minutes
Best part: Pegg and Frost.
Worst part: Its repetitiveness.
I could’ve sworn I reviewed this movie a couple of weeks ago! I recall that it starred a bunch of popular comedic actors whom cracked jokes and banded together to out-live the apocalypse. My point here is that the disaster-comedy I’m describing, This is the End, and the movie I’m currently reviewing, The World’s End, are entirely similar. This disaster-comedy double-up suggests that many big-name comedic actors, producers, and directors, no matter what side of the Atlantic Ocean they are from/on, are fascinated by the apocalypse.
Although it’s a major step up in quality from the aforementioned Seth Rogen-starring farce, The World’s End is a significant step down from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (the previous instalments in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy). Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing creative actors, writers, and directors going out of their way to deliver ambitious movies/TV shows/web-series’ etc. In fact, despite my nitpicks, I gladly admit this third instalment has many unique and commendable aspects. similarly to this series’ previous instalments, The World’s End starts out small. Alcoholic layabout Gary King (Simon Pegg) is blissfully unaware that his best days are far behind him. Sporting the same black, leather coat and manic persona he affably displayed throughout high school, King’s latest idea may forever change his life. King rounds up his old, and now successful, chums – Andrew (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Peter (Eddie Marsan) – to conquer a pub crawl, they tried and failed to complete back in high school, known as ‘The Golden Mile’. Heading back to Newton Haven (their old stomping ground), the five of them aim to reach the twelfth and final pub, fitting titled ‘The World’s End’, before the town’s inhabitants can halt their quest.
Writer/director, and pop-culture icon, Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) puts 110% into every project he’s involved with. Similarly to Joss Whedon and Shane Black, his clever and snappy filmmaking style has developed many memorable cinematic moments. He, Pegg, and Frost hit the big time with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. With that in mind, I realise it would be difficult to forge a movie comparable to the two aforementioned cult-classics. Here, Wright and co. have created a kinetic, satirical, and witty sci-fi-adventure romp. Moving at a consistent pace from the wacky prologue to the bizarre epilogue, the movie smartly discusses the biggest and scariest adventure imaginable: life itself. The movie delivers an understandable tale based around friendship, honour, humility, and regret. I’m guessing we would all love to sit back and relax all day, every day (like Pegg’s character). The movie, however, suggests that we should forever be looking for something, and someone, worth fighting for. Along with its positive messages, the movie is an intelligent and reflexive ode to such sci-fi creep-fests as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, and The Thing. But with Hollywood currently going gaga for nostalgia, The World’s End also proves that reminiscence can be a misguided an uninspired thing. Centred around a damaged yet intriguing lead character, and a Big Chill-esque reunion, the movie states that looking back on the past can grievously harm the present and future.
This enjoyable and hysterical farce takes several dark and demented turns along the way. Despite using the From Dusk till Dawn method of showing first and explaining later, This is the End, unfortunately, isn’t as reckless and surprising as it wants to be. Several plot points are picked up and dropped without warning. Also, the movie has a peculiar reliance on video-game-like action set-pieces and chases. Despite the quality of each bar-room brawl and pulsating montage, there are, perhaps, too many – hurriedly shifting the tone from darkly comic to gleefully silly and vice versa. When the action kicks in, tension and pathos are instantly sucked out of this otherwise heart-warming movie. The World’s End also succumbs to repetitiveness in the second two thirds – rushing from one dingy, small-town pub to another. Despite the movie’s issues, the key ingredients, needed to make an instant action-comedy classic, are all here. The action sequences are expertly shot and choreographed – rivalling many set-pieces from this year’s big-budget extravaganzas. Applying similar directorial ticks to those seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright’s poised and awe-inspiring visuals illustrate his potential to tackle much larger projects (seriously, when is production on his Ant-Man movie going to start?!). The alien/robot creations, which show up at the film’s halfway point, are also perplexingly nuanced. These blue-bloods may not rule the commonwealth, but they do pack a punch! Speaking of ‘hits’, the laughs also come thick and fast. Despite the movie’s fair share of poignant moments, the clever back-and-forth dialogue becomes the movie’s most memorable aspect.
“A man of your legendary prowess drinking f*cking rain?! It’s like a lion eating Humous.” (Gary King (Simon Pegg), The World’s End).
It’s obvious that Wright, Pegg, and Frost work extremely well together. Beginning their careers back in the late 90s/early 00s with sci-fi satire Spaced, their shared love of ‘genre’, subversion, and referencing is heartily injected into The World’s End. Here, the references and in-jokes are evenly scattered around each homely, comforting setting. Despite the movie’s cynical and dour outlook, the cast does a grand job of lifting the viewer’s spirits. Here, Pegg shows he’s more comfortable working with Wright and Frost in lowly British towns than being on Starship Enterprise voyages and impossible missions. Playing against type, Pegg proves he can inject likability and quirky charm into any role. His role, as the group’s leader and foul-mouthed, manic man-child, could easily have become grating and shallow. However, Gary’s personality traits, some more pleasant than others, are exposed in an enlightening way. Frost, the yang to Pegg’s yin, is a charismatic and engaging presence. His character is a realist who, fittingly, fights on his own terms. Punching windows and hitting robots with bar-stools, his character becomes a total badass at the opportune moment. Like with Wright’s previous movies, the supporting players are also top notch. Freeman, fresh off his portrayal of Bilbo Baggins, livens up his otherwise conventional role. Character actors Considine and Marsan are refreshingly chirpy. As is Rosamund Pike as Gary’s old flame/Oliver’s sister.
Featuring smash cuts, smash zooms, and smashingly enjoyable moments, Wright and co. deliver a messy yet indelibly creative ode to notorious sci-fi/horror flicks and action-comedies from their youth. It may be the lesser instalment of the trilogy, but it has enough discernible qualities to warrant a trip to the cinema with your mates.