Movie Review: The World’s End

The Blood and Cornetto trilogy comes to a rather spectacular end.

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Starring:
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike
Director:
Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz)
Rating: MA15+
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Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are surely, by now, a team of near-legendary status. Their cooperation begat the amazing 2004 British comedy classic Shaun of the Dead and its spiritual successor, 2007’s fantastic Hot Fuzz. Fans of the two off-beat, violent and absolutely hilarious films have been waiting an awfully long time for the third and final film in what is now known as the “Blood and Cornetto” trilogy (though in the interim Wright did give the world the wonderfully stylish graphic novel adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs The World). Finally, here it is, armed with explosions and laughs and plenty of beer. This is The World’s End.

Compared to the first two films in the pseudo-trilogy, which toyed with deeper themes of universal humanity between outlandish set-pieces but never really dived into anything substantial in a head-on fashion, The World’s End is pretty emotionally intense. It can honestly be a bit of a downer sometimes and that’s kind of the point. It tells the tale of a man named Gary King (Pegg, in a departure from his straight man routine from the first two B&C films), whose life peaked in high school when he attempted but never finished the infamous Golden Mile challenge, a 12-pub run that finishes at the titular World’s End tavern. In an effort to relive his glory days and fill a symbolic hole in his life, King rounds up the four now successful friends he once held dominion over and returns to the site of the Golden Mile to complete the challenge once and for all.

I hadn’t seen so much as a trailer before going in to this movie, so I was expecting the whole film to follow the pattern of the first half hour: A pub-to-pub romp through King’s regrets as his friends (including, of course, Nick Frost, as well as Martin Freeman of Sherlock and Hobbit fame) feel sorry for him while simultaneously reminiscing about their more carefree days, with jokes aplenty but an undeniably wistful tone underneath. And I would have been fine with that, because the early scenes do a rather admirable job of balancing funny with depressing and they have some interesting things to say about the nature of human relations and the feelings associated with inadequacy.

However, if you have seen a trailer (and I’d imagine most people have), you’ll know that there is much more to this film. Suffice to say things start to get weird after a while, as an inhuman threat comes to the fore and begins to take the movie in an entirely different direction. I was legitimately surprised while watching the exact scene where the film turns on its head, an emotionally intense sequence that looks like it will take Pegg‘s character to another level of pathetic but then escalates to crazy levels in another way entirely, and completely out of the blue. However, for people who have seen the trailer and are expecting something like that scene to come a lot earlier in the film, it’d be easy to see how it might turn the opening act into a bit of a drag. On reflection, the bizarre and chaotic action that ultimately takes up most of the film casts a noticeable shadow on the very tonally different opening exchanges and, considering what kind of movie The World’s End actually ends up being, I’m not sure it’s all that necessary for it to go on as long as it does.

By the time the film does start to resemble the pitch of its trailers, there’s plenty of outrageous action to take in. Some of Wright‘s Scott Pilgrim style has evidently seeped into the B&C trilogy, as slow-mo takedowns and scarcely believable feats of fighting prowess by decidedly average guys are in full view here. There are some cool cameos from well known British stars Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley and Bill Nighy and the zingers and sight gags keep on flying, even amidst a constant sense of underlying dread. Rosamund Pike‘s bug-eyed turn as an old flame of King’s is hilarious and the story goes to places you might not expect from a comedy. The World’s End is unmistakably a darker film than both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and in my opinion it isn’t as good as either of them, but Wright and his two leading cohorts certainly haven’t lost the ability to surprise or entertain.

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THE VERDICT

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Good:
Delivers both laughs and pathos, audacious action scenes
Bad:
Takes a long time to get going
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3.5 VsG !

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