FILM REVIEW: The World’s End
The World’s End
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman
It’s a shame Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ should ever have to come to an end. The first two films in the series, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have become very well-loved (due in part to their CONSTANT repeat screenings on ITV2), and have led to much bigger things for the central trio – actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and director Wright. Pegg and Frost have co-starred in other popular films like Paul and The Adventures of Tintin, while Pegg has entered into several major Hollywood franchises like Mission Impossible, Ice Age, and the rebooted Star Trek. Wright, meanwhile, has directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and is currently working on Marvel’s Ant-Man. So it’s perhaps fitting that this finale is their biggest collaboration yet.
The World’s End is a more mature film than Shaun or Hot Fuzz, as represented by the maturity of most of its central characters. There’s less of the puerile humour and more of a focus on the characters’ families and careers. As a result, the characters feel very real and identifiable, and are perhaps the most developed of any in the trilogy. The film also seems to strive more to carve its own hole in the genres it employs, rather than lampooning them directly. Where Shaun of the Dead poked fun at zombie and romantic comedy films, and where Hot Fuzz poked fun at murder mystery and buddy cop films, The World’s End does its own thing, somehow combining a pub crawl with a sort of 1950s paranoid sci-fi. And it’s a testament to the abilities of Wright, Pegg and Frost that they manage to pull it off so effortlessly.
Pegg and Frost take the forefront again in The World’s End, with the friendship between their two characters forming one of the major plot points. This time, however, their friendship is a lot different than in either of the previous films. The two characters are former childhood friends who have since fallen out, and the film deals with them being at odds with each other and the reforming of their friendship. The brotherly bond that very much drives Shaun and Hot Fuzz is still present, but this time around, it’s more the struggle to rediscover this bond that drives the film, giving the characters’ relationship and interactions a much different dynamic. At the heart of this are two very convincing performances from Pegg and Frost – maybe their most memorable yet – backed up by a solid supporting cast (Paddy Considine, Eddie Darsan, Martin Freeman, and Rosamund Pike). Frost in particular sticks out as the down-to-earth Andy who eventually explodes out of his shell, in a marked contrast from the light-hearted fools he played before.
The other main difference between The World’s End and the first two films is the scale. Once again we have Pegg & Frost’s daily lives being interrupted by the extraordinary, but this time it’s bigger than a cult in Britain’s Village of the Year, and bigger than a zombie uprising in London. The antagonist this time is an alien invasion, reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. To complement this, the central character, Gary King (Pegg), is similarly ‘bigger’ than Shaun and Sgt. Angel. Gary’s quest throughout the film – and through his past – is to try and make his name legendary by completing ‘The Golden Mile’ pub crawl, and his sheer determination to become legend is what incurs the wrath of the alien invaders. The action scenes that ensue are very impressive – well choreographed to include the full cast and show their differing characters, while also being very tongue-in-cheek. One fight scene in a men’s room feels like it’s been lifted right out of a pro-wrestling match, while another features an alien fighting with legs in place of her arms.
Altogether it’s a masterfully assembled film. Every element of the production works in tandem with the others to create an exceptionally energetic threequel. The dialogue is as punchy, rhythmic and witty as ever, and combined with the well-paced editing, it achieves a great level of fluency. It’s still packed with Wright’s trademarks, including plenty of sight gags, and those quick-fire close-up montages, along with a honed sense for sound effects. At times, Wright uses sound effects in conjunction with his timing of shots in a way that recalls old Disney and Tom & Jerry cartoons. The plot is perhaps a little thin, but nothing really feels drawn out longer than it needs to be, and there’s never a lull in the momentum.
The World’s End fulfils most purposes you could imagine for it. It’s an imaginative genre-bending sci-fi, a consistently funny and smart comedy, a heart-warming and affecting study of character and friendship, an on-form finale to the Cornetto trilogy, and a great showcase of Edgar Wright’s ability to work on greater scale, which bodes well for his work in Hollywood mainstream, starting with Ant-Man in 2015. This is absolutely recommended for fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and just about anyone else.
Watch the trailer for The World’s End below