Review – The World’s End

The Cornetto trilogy comes to a minty conclusion in this typically homage-heavy sci-fi comedy about bars, buddies, brawls and beer – lots of beer.

“Where Wright, Pegg and Frost go together from here who knows, but as the Cornetto trilogy’s final flavour The World’s End is sweet indeed”

Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost followed-up their cult TV series Spaced with the 2004 rom-zom-com Shaun Of The Dead, a slice of genius that embraced George A Romero’s Dead films while at the same time doing something truly original with the formula.

They teamed up again three years later for the even more successful Hot Fuzz, an action comedy that winked in the direction of cop buddy movies like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, but was still very much its own quirky beast.

Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steve (Paddy Considine), Gary (Simon Pegg), Andrew (Nick Frost) and Pete (Eddie Marsan) prepare to get annhiliated in The World's End

Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steve (Paddy Considine), Gary (Simon Pegg), Andrew (Nick Frost) and Pete (Eddie Marsan) prepare to get annihilated in The World’s End

As the years have ticked by, Wright, Frost and Pegg especially have eclipsed their humble TV beginnings to become Hollywood figures, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting the band back together one more time for this long-awaited final chapter in the Cornetto trilogy (so named for the appearance of the famous ice cream brand in each film).

The film starts with a lengthy exposition-heavy voiceover from Pegg’s Gary King, the rebellious cool kid who led his four mates Andrew, Steve, Oliver and Pete on an epic post-school quest to traverse the ‘Golden Mile’, a perilous pub crawl encompassing 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Despite a brave attempt, the gang failed to make it to The World’s End, the Golden Mile’s final watering hole.

A young Gary (Thomas Law) and Andy (Zachary Bailess) consider what's to come of their lives in The World's End

A young Gary (Thomas Law) and Andy (Zachary Bailess) consider what’s to come of their lives in The World’s End

Now approaching 40, Gary tracks down his estranged buddies and convinces a reluctant Andrew (Frost), Steve (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Pete (Eddie Marsan) to finally conquer the Golden Mile. An uncomfortable start to the crawl, made more awkward by the arrival of Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), suddenly takes a loony turn for the dangerously extraterrestrial.

Gary (Simon Pegg) unveils the map of 'the golden mile' showing all 12 watering holes in The World's End

Gary (Simon Pegg) unveils the map of the ‘Golden Mile’ showing all 12 watering holes, culminating at The World’s End

It would have been so easy for co-writer/director Wright, Pegg (also a co-writer) and Frost to have reheated the magic that made Shaun… and Hot Fuzz so adored, but to their credit they instead go off in another direction entirely, while still delivering the sort of joke rate that most ‘comedies’ don’t get anywhere near.

Gary is a pathetic character, an adult straightjacketed by stubborn arrested development who’s never been able to get past 1990. Still wearing the same goth clothing and still driving the same clapped out car he had as a teenager, Gary’s obnoxious, hard edges are softened out by Pegg’s sympathetic portrayal.

Gary (Simon Pegg), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steve (Paddy Considine) realise something is rotten in Newton Haven in The World's End

Gary (Simon Pegg), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steve (Paddy Considine) realise something is rotten in Newton Haven in The World’s End

The top-notch cast work splendidly off each other, each bringing their own unresolved baggage to what gradually turns into a painful, but necessary reunion for them all. Normally cast as resentful and/or angry, Marsan lets his hair down in a role that actually allows him to have a giggle, while Frost shows that when he’s given the right material (usually co-written by Pegg and Wright) he’s an actor with range.

Sam (Rosamund Pike) kicks butt in The World's End

Sam (Rosamund Pike) kicks butt in The World’s End

The film cleverly manages to have it both ways; in the one hand it drums home the message that there’s little point dwelling on the past, while at the same time wallowing in the nostalgia of its early 90s soundtrack, in particular Primal Scream’s seminal track Loaded.

Wright has cited the legendary sci-fi writer John Wyndham as a big influence and there are definite nods to his paranoid tome The Midwich Cuckoos (turned into the classic movie Village Of The Damned), while other 1950s sci-fi classics Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and The Thing From Another World are also interwoven into the film’s DNA.

Despite being very amusing, The World’s End isn’t as instantly likeable as either Shaun… or Hot Fuzz. Maybe it was the special effects getting in the way, or the increasingly bonkers plot, but something felt missing. That being said, the first two chapters in the trilogy improved with age, so there’s no reason to think The World’s End won’t become a richer experience on repeated viewings.

Where Wright, Pegg and Frost go together from here who knows, but as the Cornetto trilogy’s final flavour The World’s End is sweet indeed.

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12 comments

  1. cindybruchman · July 22, 2013

    I have been looking forward to this one for a long time. I ♥ Simon Pegg. Even though ‘something’s missing’ I will venture out and give it a go! Nice post.

    • Three Rows Back · July 22, 2013

      Cheers! It’s still a great film; it’s just not quite in the same class as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is all. Pegg is always great fun.

  2. Tim The Film Guy · July 22, 2013

    I was pretty disappointed. Loved the other two films but this wasn’t nearly as good 😦

    • Three Rows Back · July 22, 2013

      As I said on my review this one didn’t win me over the same as the other two, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

  3. ckckred · July 23, 2013

    Nice review. This doesn’t come here in the US until a few weeks I think, but I’m looking forward to seeing this.

    • Three Rows Back · July 23, 2013

      Cheers my friend. It’s a lot of fun, let me know what you think when you see it.

  4. Lights Camera Reaction · July 23, 2013

    Nice review! I’ll hopefully be seeing this during the weekend.

  5. ianbrettcooper · September 10, 2013

    Saw it Saturday. My opinion: better than Hot Fuzz, not as good as Shaun of the Dead.

    • Three Rows Back · September 10, 2013

      Cheers for the feedback. I fall into the camp that it’s the weakest of the three, but it’s still head and shoulders above most other comedies.

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