Anthony Stokes believes The World’s End is the best of The Cornetto Trilogy….
Finally. After what seems like an eternity the United States has got to see The World’s End. And it was worth the wait. Let down after let down this summer, before Edgar Wright showed up and bested them all. But that’s just what he does isn’t it? He takes a genre and spoofs it while adding new elements, twisting conventions of said genre and breathing life into it. Shaun of the Dead is my favorite zombie movie, Hot Fuzz is my favorite buddy cop movie, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is my favorite pseudo video game movie – although it might be the only one, I’m not sure. Edgar Wright actually adds to a genre when spoofing it , unlike other nostalgia or homage directors like Quentin Tarantino who just cherrypick the best elements of a genre without coming up with anything new. Edgar Wright has come a long way as a filmmaker and I think with that The World’s End he’s topped his previous work in a number of ways.
I think Edgar Wright is the most talented person working in film today and he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s a master at lighting, framing, pacing, camera tricks, transitions, working with actors, dialogue, playing with sound, and everything else that you can do behind the camera. Once Woody Allen retires he’ll be the best director in the comedy genre and when people say “nobody has a perfect record” I point them to a guy who can’t help but make great movies.
So, I walked into The World’s End with a child-like excitement. As a critic you’re supposed to be as objective as possible, not to mention that it’s unfair to walk into a movie which has no chance of living up to your expectations. But even still I sat down and once the opening credits rolled a smile as wide as the Joker’s spread across my face. I couldn’t wait for Wright’s frantic energetic direction, swift attention deficit transitions, goofy sensibilities, and incredibly clever references. And I got none of that. I waited for about 20 minutes until I realized that this is a new beast. This isn’t a referential pop spoof – it’s just a sci-fi comedy. And wow, to see somebody step out of a style they’ve been using for their whole career was refreshing, and in the end I was grateful.
Let’s be honest – all the tricks and references in Edgar Wright’s past movies don’t necessarily add to the story. They definitely don’t take away from it, but they’re purely there for re-watchability and for film buffs. Even his direction and aesthetic is basically him just showcasing his talent for direction, and it’s certainly entertaining, but we get the point by now. So you can say this is a more streamlined Wright and really his most mature film to date. The foreshadowing here actually helps tell the story on the first viewing, and adds an extra layer of fun while watching. The movie has themes about nostalgia and growing up – which is extremely topical given this whole Ben Affleck / Batman backlash – but I feel like this is an allegory for Wright himself leaning away from his fanboy sensibilities to make a more serious and grown up movie.
So aside from growing as a filmmaker and stepping into a slightly new direction there’s also new ground for the comedic duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Now these guys definitely have a chemistry, but I’ve always felt like Nick Frost was the weaker one. Simon Pegg is a very good actor and while he hasn’t had much success without working with a high profile director, he’s De Niro to Wright’s Scorsese, and he pulls it off. Nick Frost’s character in the previous installments of the Cornetto trilogy has always been a kind of idiot. Matter of fact he’s such an idiot in Shaun of the Dead it dampens my enjoyment of the movie. Hot Fuzz had a much better balance and he was given an opportunity to emote, but not really enough to leave an impression. Here he’s given more to do and he shines dramatically. There’s always a final confrontation between their two characters in these movies , but here it felt more genuine. The World’s End is more of a team movie than a buddy film like previous installments, but when it does shift into buddy territory this is the best bromance of any of their other movies.
My favorite thing about The World’s End is that it feels like the end of a trilogy. The whole theme of nostalgia and worship and the epilogue really make this feel complete. Edgar Wright has gotten better with every movie, and while I can’t say this is my favorite of his – a title still held by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (until Ant-Man comes out at least) – but this edges out Hot Fuzz due to the totally warranted shift in tone and structure. This is the best film I’ve seen any of the Wright Pack in. It doesn’t hurt that this is the most pub centric movie in a trilogy that’s all about pubs, as well as some bad ass action scenes that are a variant of the Lucas Lee fight in Scott Pilgrim. Predictably this is the movie of the summer and even more so I wanted to see this again immediately after walking out. The ball is in your court Edgar Wright and we are all eager to see what you do with it next.
Anthony Stokes is a blogger and independent filmmaker.