The World’s End, 2013.
Directed by Edgar Wright.
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, David Bradley, and Paddy Considine.
Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.
In 2004, Spaced heroes Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright gave us the now cult classic comedy Shaun of the Dead. They followed this up in 2007 with buddy cop spoof Hot Fuzz (a movie I called “near perfection” just the other day) and now, nearly 10 years after they started, we’re at the final chapter of the Cornetto Trilogy with The World’s End.
But the question is – can the Wright/Pegg/Frost combo catch lightening in a bottle for a third time in a row?
The World’s End tells the story of Gary King (Pegg) who decides it’s high time to ‘put the band back together’ and get his old school friends to finish something they couldn’t when they were teenagers – The Golden Mile, 12 pints in 12 pubs. Although quite reluctant, his now grown up friends nearing 40 go with him on this nostalgic quest back to their home town of Newton Haven. As one would expect, the town has changed since they left all those years ago, but something isn’t quite right. Before they know it, they’re fighting off robots, trying to survive the night and possibly save humanity – all while trying to make it to the final pub for that final pint.
It’s nice to see them change up the dynamic of the Pegg/Frost partnership, with Frost taking on the straight man role allowing Pegg to have fun as 40-year old teenager who can’t let go of his past. And while this certainly differentiates itself away from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, it does lead to the movie’s biggest problem.
Neither Gary nor Andy are particularly likeable characters. Gary is exceptionally annoying and his childish antics get really old, really quick with very few laughs. Andy on the other hand is far too straight laced to really bring anything to the table in terms of character. Unlike Shaun or Nicholas Angel, Andy doesn’t have much of a personality and is instead used to make Gary seem all the more wacky by being totally stone faced while he acts like a tit. Both characters do inevitably change as the movie goes on which does make them more bearable, and it’s a testament to their performances that you find yourself cheering for them, but it does mean that the opening 20 minutes are pretty hard to get through.
Thankfully they are supported by a superb set of actors with some of Britain’s finest. Martin Freeman is great as estate agent Oliver and Rosamund Pike is servicable as the love interest Sam, but the real stars are Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine as Pete and Steven respectfully. Marsden in particular is fantastic as the cheery drunk and Considine gets some really good lines and moments. Of all the characters in the movie, Steven feels the most grounded which makes you warm to him instantly and feel sympathy for him with the arrival of Sam who, coincidentally, is also back in town while the boys attempt the Golden Mile.
What really sets The World’s End apart from the other two movies of the trilogy however is that this isn’t trying to be a comedy. It is hilariously funny and is without a shadow of a doubt the best comedy of the year so far, but it feels more like a Doctor Who episode mixed with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World fight scenes for wacky entertainment rather than a genre spoof. Simply put – The World’s End is bonkers. It starts off innocently enough like any other buddy comedy, but once they reveal the robots at the end of the first act, the film descends into the most entertaining madness seen all year. Wright uses everything he learned from Scott Pilgrim to choreograph and shoot some of the best fight scenes featuring human characters in a long time. Each fight scene has its own story with a beginning, middle and an end and, for melee brawls, are shot with such fluidity that it never becomes confusing or incoherent. There’s one massive fight scene in a pub that is first class, with the right amount of laughs, the right amount of cheers and is given the right amount of time.
However, because the film is more focused on being a sci-fi fight movie, we miss out on an element that has made the Cornetto Trilogy unique – the bromance.
Many films have tried to imitate it, but the genuine ‘man-love’ that Pegg and Frost have for each other shines through the screen in any movie/TV series that they star together in (even Paul). In The World’s End however, it almost feels tacked on just for the sake of doing it. We’re told that they were best friends but we never really feel like they are or were. Storylines are often started to build towards this but they again feel last minute additions to add in some needed character development to further the story. If anything, you feel a stronger connection between Gary and Steven because of their romantic involvement with Sam than you do between the supposed best friends.
But regardless of issues, The World’s End is a brilliant movie. You could sit and nitpick everything that is wrong with it but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. So long as you can relax yourself into this wacky world that they’ve created you’re bound to have a great time. The majority of the cast are great, there are some superb cameos and references to previous movies, a phenomenal soundtrack for anyone who grew up in the 90s and the fight scenes are an insane amount of fun (insane being the optimum word). And, like the rest of the series, it will only get better the more you watch it.