t h e w o r l d ' s e n d
July 19th 2013
Pegg and Frost
11th July 2013
The good, the bad and the downright baffling in the final instalment of the Cornetto trilogy 'The World's End'.
National treasure Simon Pegg plays Gary 'The King' King, the self styled ruler of school and leader of (almost) men. He and his four best friends are living the 90's to the full and Gary is top of the tree. Life couldn't be better. Cut to 20 odd years later to find Gary still in the 90's and trying desperately to re-live the one perfect day in his life when he and said four best friends (the dream team of Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine) attempted the golden mile of 12 pints in 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Problem is the gang have grown up and all have respectable jobs, families and not great memories of Gary King. With a little emotional blackmail one by one they fall and reunite to take on Newton Haven in a more literal sense than they first imagined....
So let's begin by saying it is funny. I laughed a lot, yes the jokes are a bit silly and some of them don't work but on the whole it is certainly more funny than not. Edgar Wright has done a great job directing and his usual fast cuts and visual gags are well played. Pegg and Frost are both outstanding. Watching them on screen is the cinematic equivalent of getting picked up when you are a child by your dad and swung too high in the air as your mum watches on in horror. It's fun, and exciting. Pegg in particular seems to be relishing playing a dick like Gary and I thought it was the best I'd seen him seen since Shaun of The Dead. The dark side suits him. Frost also has a role that has more gravitas than the usual fare as the history between the two friends is dark. This also suits Frost and I thought he gave an outstanding performance which I loved watching every minute of. So. It's funny, well directed and Frost and Pegg are amazing. What's not to like? Well that's the problem, it's not just Frost and Pegg's movie, it's an ensemble movie and, unfortunately for the ensemble, they seem to have fallen by the wayside. It's all the more infuriating because of the level of talent that is involved. Eddie Marsan fares the best as his storyline has something of an arc and Martin Freeman fares OK (although I did forget he was in it when I started writing the review which isn't a good sign is it?). Paddy Considine however is woefully underused and his character is by far the most confusing and pointless and you really shouldn't render Paddy Considine useless – that my friends, to quote The Big Lebowksi, is a fucking travesty. Also completely pointless for the most part is Rosamund Pike's character of Sam, save for a half assed love triangle scenario that doesn't really play out. Just wanted to add a note about Thomas Law who plays young Gary, definitely one to watch....
The first half of the film is familiar ground, playful banter, small towns, broken dreams etc and it's a fun 45 minutes and then the film turns into something else entirely as we blast off into science fiction territory and an invasion of the body snatchers style romp. It's in keeping with Wright's favourite theme of an Englishman's home being his castle and small town mentalities. There are some inspired and very funny cameos throughout the film which I won't ruin here, oh, and keep an eye out for the Cornetto moment, it's a good one. The action scenes are slick and convincing, it's clear to see that both cast and Wright put a hell of a lot of work in them. The pace keeps up pretty much to the end and the laughs, although less, do still keep coming and the scene of man vs aliens near the end is one which elicited whooping and cheering at my screening, me included, totally encapsulated the early joy of these films. I'm sure there are endless references/nods to science fiction b movies that I have no idea about and oh-so-clever film homages but they would have been lost on me. It's a nice comment that the boys are making here though about society and the conformity of youth. Wright pulls a nice visual gag out the bag as they go from pub to pub, all with the same soulless charm of the spirit crushing chain where every ounce of originality is squeezed out. It's reminiscent of Shaun's trip to the sweet shop in Shaun of The Dead where his self absorption means he fails to notice a Zombie apocalypse happening right in front of him. Oh and the soundtrack is fantastic. If you were born at any part mid seventies/early eighties the soundtrack is the soundtrack to your life. Wright always chooses great music and World's End is no exception, it rocks.
The ending of the movie was totally baffling and if I'm honest, I have no idea what the hell was going on and am still none the wiser today. The tone is much darker than the previous two films in the trilogy and that's no bad thing, they've all grown up and it's more interesting for it. I doubt there is a British human of my generation that didn't love Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz. Or both. There is tremendous goodwill towards Wright, Pegg and Frost and likewise towards The World's End. In the screening I attended it was, in an Olympian triumph of British spirit, willed into being funny. And it is funny. I laughed a lot there is no denying it, it was just afterwards when I sat and thought about it, I'm not sure what happened. It was like I'd been brainwashed. How appropriate.
Check out the trailer here