Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back for their latest genre send-up in The World's End. Is the film as magical as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz or a disappointment? 411's Jeffrey Harris checks in with his full review!
Directed By: Edgar Wright Written By: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg Runtime: 109 minutes MPAA Rating: Rated R
Gary King - Simon Pegg Andy Knightley - Nick Frost Steven Prince - Paddy Considine Oliver Chamberlain - Martin Freeman Peter Page - Eddie Marsan Sam Chamberlain - Rosamund Pike Basil - David Bradley Guy Shepard - Pierce Brosnan
Just in time to end what has generally been a disappointing and underwhelming summer season, comes a fitting release in The World’s End, how appropriate with the end of the summer movie season essentially here. This marks the third collaboration between the famous trio of writer/director Edgar Wright, co-writer and star Simon Pegg, and co-star Nick Frost. The team gained a cult following with their TV series Spaced and then moved on to the big screen with the genre send-up classics Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End marks the conclusion of what they have called their “Cornetto Trilogy.”
This movie sets Pegg as Gary King, a 40 year old man that’s still stuck in his teens. He’s been unable to cope with the disappointment of adulthood and is determined to relive what he sees as the best night of his life, when he and his close group of friends took on the challenge of the “Golden Mile,” a pub crawl in their home town of Newton Haven. Gary and his friends didn’t manage to finish it, so Gary wanting to relive his glory years tries to get his gang back together this time to do the pub crawl yet again and this time finish it and get to the final joint on the pub crawl, the World’s End.
Gary’s friends once he reconnects with them many years later have all essentially grown up and moved on in their lives, unlike Gary. Some of them also do not fondly remember their youth or time with Gary as Gary does. Still, amused by being able to just see everyone again and just kick back and cut loose for a night, the group of car salesman Peter (Marsan), divorcee Steven (Considine), real estate agent Oliver (Freeman), and lawyer Andy (Frost) all come back to go on the pub crawl. But this is not one of those movies. After the group arrives, they begin to notice some little things are eerily off about their town. And then they stumble onto the fact that the denizens of the town are not even human at all. Newton Haven appears to be part of an interplanetary infestation not unlike that of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Their old school chums have been replaced by robots or as they drunkenly term, “Blanks.” So what to do? Just keep calm and chive on with the pub crawl. If it sounds dumber than the Winchester plan in Shaun of the Dead, what do you expect, the guys are drunk?
As with many the previous Cornetto Trilogy films, these movies are perfectly cast. All the main leads have great chemistry with each other, many of the cast members have worked with each other numerous times and have also appeared in either Shaun or Hot Fuzz. In a nice switch, Pegg and Frost play against their usual types. While Gary is the protagonist, his character is not unlike that of Ed in Shaun. Frost this time around gets to play the straight man of the group, and it’s a tremendous departure for him as the buttoned down, dry, and rather stoic Andy. It’s not that Frost is not funny at all as Andy because Andy has a couple moments in the film that are two of the most hilarious, but simply a different kind of funny from what we are usually used to seeing from Frost. Pegg’s has great manic energy as Gary, acting like this grand ringmaster but deep down beneath all that there is an emotional pain and sadness permeating from his life that his friends, Andy especially, recognize.
I think where Edgar Wright shines as a director is pulling out action scenes that are epic in scope in their own way but shot in small, tight areas or locations. I recall during the Hot Fuzztival, Wright described Hot Fuzz as a movie where “small things happened in a small place.” Well to that, The World’s End would probably be something truly big and earth-shattering (pun intended) happening in a small place. And the irony of what takes place during the climax and what it results in is extremely humorous when you think about it. But again, Wright’s talent is doing movies on a budget that come off as big and epic in scale in rather small, locales. The fight scenes in this movie are awesome, especially considering they are done based off the fact that the males in the fight scenes are mostly businessmen, not fighters, and are varying levels of drunk. The film plays with that very well. Considering the movie’s budget ($20 million), the action and visual effects are all top notch. I eagerly anticipate seeing Wright direct a big superhero movie in Ant-Man and how a film he does with all those resources will look.
Wright and Pegg’s dialogue and writing is also marvelous. I always enjoy how clever and witty their dialogue here. In a way, it sort reminds of reading Douglas Adams and the way his writing had this sort of rhythm to it. A rhythmic prose if you will. This movie is no exception. What builds very well is the fact that all the main leads are on a pub crawl so as they progress they are getting drunk and in less control of their faculties. The film plays with this idea brilliantly and has a lot of fun with it. Obviously, it’s tough to properly figure out how to deal with a worldwide invasion and potential end of humanity whilst not being sober.
The climax for the movie and subsequent ending is really out of left field. Without giving anything away, the ending is very surprising and unexpected. It’s in anyways bad, but it is definitely one that took me a while to digest. I found that I liked the ending, though I felt parts of it did not live up to how well done the rest of the film was. That being said, I’m not sure what ending could’ve worked even better for this film. So in that sense, it works very well, though it’s not quite as picture perfect as the ending to say Shaun of the Dead.
The 411: The World's End gives a strong end to a overall dull and disappointing summer movie season. Nick Frost getting to play a total inversion of his usual bumbling sidekick type is awesome. As usual, Wright and Pegg do well in showcasing humorous with well-written emotional and painful elements at the center. The dialogue and performances are exceptional, and the ending is a big surprise. Personally, I would still rank Hot Fuzz as my favorite of this little trilogy, but The World's End still earns its worthy place among those features.