The World’s End Review 
Posted by Terry Lewis on 08.24.2013
It's the end of the road for Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's 'Blood & Cornetto' trilogy and what better place to finish it off at The World’s End? But is it a beverage of an excellent vintage or a dodgy pint you'll regret the morning after? 411's Terry Lewis finds out!
Simon Pegg - Gary King Nick Frost - Andrew Knightley Paddy Considine - Steven Prince Martin Freeman - Oliver Chamberlain Eddie Marsan - Peter Page Rosamund Pike - Sam Chamberlain Bill Nighy - The Network
Fear is a powerful emotion. It’s a reflection of what troubles us in many ways. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. Fear of disappointment. That’s what I’ve been trying to deal with ever since the trailers of the last of the ‘Blood and Cornetto’ film trilogy were released. The holy trinity of British big screen comedy with director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg & Nick Frost have a near impossible target to reach in bettering their earlier works in their third outing together, yet whilst The World’s End doesn’t meet or surpass previous outings, it’s still an excellent end with their swansong.
After finishing high school in 1990’s Britain, the popular alternative kid Gary King and his four friends indulged in an epic bar crawl but through various reasons they never got round to finishing off the twelve pubs, ending appropriately at The World’s End. The five grow up and leave the quaint small village of Newton Haven but Gary… Gary never grows up and carries on his frequent drink and drug use in a hedonistic lifestyle. Years later, Gary (Pegg, Star Trek Into Darkness) manages to persuade the other four through a massive guilt trip to have another crack at the ‘Golden Mile’.
The only problem is – everything seems strange. Noone recognises the boys anymore and the town seems rather alien. A confrontation in a bar’s toilet reveals the invasion of a blue-blooded bodysnatcher style alien menace. Struggling to deal with this revelation, the boys follow Gary’s lead & decide to carry on the pub crawl. Maybe, just maybe, this time the five will make it to The World’s End.
First of all, I love the character of Gary King. Such a rounded, bonkers character who you understand the motivations of from scene one. This is the kind of guy who reached the start of adulthood, growing up to music like The Soup Dragons and Primal Scream and follows their lyrics to the letter, thinking he was going to live forever in his own little world whilst the rest of the world moved on around him. His friends from school think he’s a bit of an embarrassment and he’s struggling to cope as we find out later in the movie. It’s a role written by Pegg and Wright for Pegg and it’s as good as a comedy role with a dash of seriousness you’ll see all summer.
As a nice counter balance, Gary’s best friend growing up Andrew (Frost, Snow White & The Huntsman) has grown up to be a partner at a law firm and is going through a separation from his family. Usually the roles are switched in the ‘Blood and Cornetto’ films with Pegg being more serious and Frost the sillier one. Here, Frost does a decent job of playing the straight man who does not and will not tolerate Gary’s childishness any longer, yet still immensely cares for him. In what maybe a bit of a disappointment to many Frost fans, he manages to smash out of his bumbling funny man stereotype he’s been typecast with for awhile. Still least he has a few excellent pub fight scenes which could give Wolverine a run for his money.
To be honest, there isn’t a great deal to say from the rest of the merry travelling band of pub crawlers apart from the fact that they’re all exceptional. Bilbo himself Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) does a brilliant double turn as Oliver. Paddy Considine (Now Is Good) as Steven Prince offered a weirdly mature sexy man to proceedings as well as a foil to Gary in a friendly rivalry. The hidden highlight though is Eddie Marsan (Jack The Giant Slayer) as Peter, a man freed from his humdrum existence after meeting up with the rest of his old mates again in a highly entertaining role.
The only one negative I’d say from the cast is how wasted the excellent Rosamund Pike was as Sam. Not really given a chance to build her character up as she was left as the girl in a love triangle between her, Gary and Steve and used for a bit of deus ex machina in the end. Wasted.
Despite exploring sci-fi themes later on in the film, The World’s End instead chooses to focus on the end of adolescence, which bookends something that’s been carrying on in the ‘Blood and Cornetto’ movies. Here, we’re given the story of how Gary, a childish man, has to complete this pub crawl in the ‘Golden Mile’ as it’s a symbol for him finishing adolescence and it’s “all he has left” in life. There’s an engaging go between at how Gary is free to do whatever he wants, any old time compared to the rest of the boys who have promising careers and/or family responsibilities. Some aspect of certain members are jealous of Gary’s carefree lifestyle, whilst similarly deep down Gary is jealous of the stability they have. An absorbing subject which kept me switched on until the end credits.
Also, there’s some interesting commentary on the status of the British pub and bar scene. It’s summed up best when they enter the first two pubs and they’re exactly the same. It’s a reflection of how formerly individual and charming pubs can’t cope anymore in times of downturn and recession and sell out to chains like Wetherspoons in a form of Starbucking. Instead of popping in for a pint, you get offered the whole hog of a dance floor disco and cheap restaurant. Sad to see but suits the film down to a tee since we’ve never really had this sort of commentary on a subject before from Wright and it’s so true.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the trio behind The World’s End wearing a bit thin but I thought the movie wasn’t loaded with that many jokes. It was still hilarious and I loved every single moment but it was from more of the character perspective. The opening half is filled with the other characters reacting to how Gary hasn’t changed since that faithful night in the 90’s (“Hey I put this song onto a tape for you didn’t I?” “Yeah this is it… this is that tape”) which is fun enough but you’re left wanting a bit more and obvious at times since this is meant to be a comedy film first and foremost.
Some of the traditional ’Blood And Cornetto’ gags aren’t given the proper love and attention they deserve. The fence joke just happens with no build, so it just comes and goes (although what other jokes can you do with a man jumping over a fence?) and I noticed the repetition of scenes from our holy trinity’s previous TV work in Spaced. Then again, the Cornetto gag this time is a really sharp sting and is beautifully handled.
The film suffers too from not really have the absurdist humour of the realms of the horror and romantic comedy genres colliding from Shaun Of The Dead nor the fast paced, one liner led trope of the action flicks parodied in Hot Fuzz. That said, they did have a fun play around with the sci-fi setting. The climax of the film is an inebriated view on the role of the human race and how they would function in the greater galaxy. There’s a magnificent drunken discussion on what to call the replicant/copycat robot things. It feels more like a sci-fi film tacked onto a movie about a pub crawl, which I’m sure is the intention but it’s not quite pulled off for me.
Wright doesn’t deviate from his and Pegg’s writing in the direction, keeping up with the usual fun and more-clever-than-you-think style from his earlier projects. There’s notable cute gags like ‘Welcome – Join Us’ signs when our boys crash into a pub later after being found out by the alien bodysnatchers. I loved how all the pub names relate back to the plot, like Gary has been barred from a pub called The Famous Cock as a teenager and is reminded of so as a man pushing 40. I really could have done without the whole plot being told in the opening flashback montage though, which is something Wright and Pegg are used to doing. Whilst the celeb cameos rampant in Hot Fuzz have been toned down, there’s more of a personal touch with old friends from Spaced making an appearance and new ones you may not know from the Wright produced Sightseers, which plays in with drawing a line under this point of his filmmaking career. It’s more of the same but Wright does it so well in his form of fan pleasing direction.
The final third is rather dark when you don’t expect it to be, which is a bit jarring. It’s heartbreaking when you find out what happens to the original humans after the copies take over and it clashes with the knockabout character interactions we’ve had earlier. Still I’m a fan of the dark turn we get, it’s something we don’t see enough of nowadays, especially played against a comedy film setting. However I get the impression the sci-fi genre and darker tone will put off a lot of casual fans picked up from the more accessible action tribute Hot Fuzz. Speaking of which, The World’s End is nowhere near as entertaining as HF but that’s an unfair comparison to the perfect storm that film is.
That’s not to say The World’s End isn’t a smashing film in it’s own right. Easily the best British comedy movie in awhile (barring last year’s Sightseers, which Wright produced). If anything, as corny as this sounds, this movie makes me proud. Proud of the fact that three hard working boys from England have made a fantastic trilogy based on a British sense of humour that’s loved the world over. Wright knows his audience and plays up to their wants of humour he has introduced in the previous ‘Blood & Cornetto’ outings and quashes any fear of disappointment you may have had going in.
The 411: The worst of the ’Blood And Cornetto’ trilogy but their previous works from a British comedy perspective are an unfair comparison. The World’s End is still a triumph of comedy on the big screen and is highly recommended as a loving tribute to the Sci-Fi genre and copious amount of drinking and time spent down the local pub, even if the two don’t quite mesh together. More of the same crowd pleasing comedy which isn’t a bad thing, Wright, Pegg and Frost leave with a stiff one for the road. Cheers boys!