Published on August 23rd, 2013 | by Joseph Saulnier0
The World’s End
This summer’s movie lineup has been crammed full of sophisticated robots, vampires and even a recently passed billionaire genius. And then you have The World’s End (“TWE”), which might simply be the best and most creative of the bunch. Having a much smaller budget than these bigger movies, and being set in England, Edgar Wright shows that it’s not all about money and tropics in this hilarious romp.
I cannot honestly think of a better way to wrap up the Cornetto Trilogy then the story told in TWE. For those that don’t know there’s a joke behind the Cornetto name, in that a report brought up that a Cornetto ice cream wrapper was featured in each of the first two movies. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz make up the first two movies, and TWE rounds out what eventually became the Cornetto Trilogy. Ice cream Easter egg aside, all the films in the trilogy share the same cast and crew. They star Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, written by Pegg and Wright, and directed by Wright. The films are chock full of inside jokes that go back as far as this incredible groups humble beginnings with the TV show Spaced. Beyond these connections, though, each films stands on its own as a unique story.
While Shaun of the Dead was the group’s take on zombie films, and Hot Fuzz visited the buddy cop genre, TWE is a comedic riff on films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you have somehow made it this far without having the full plot spoiled for you, do try and keep it that way. The key things you need to know is that there are robots, creepy “YOLO” kids, and the story centers on Gary King, a man who never quite grew up.
Gary (Pegg) is a disaster of an adult male. He’s wild, rambunctious, trying to constantly relive his youth, and irresponsible to boot. This demeanor has not done any good for him as an adult on the far side of 40, but he’s delusional and is not aware that he has not succeeded in life. This actually adds to his charm.
Gary gets a bug up his you know what, and wants to relive one of his last greatest days of his youth. A day when he and his four best friends decided to celebrate finishing school by tackling the town-famous golden mile. Newton Haven has 12 pubs spread along a mile path that Gary manages to convince his friends Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and former best friend Andrew (Frost) to attempt again just like they did all those years ago. The pub crawl concludes at the film’s namesake: The World’s End.
As the evening goes on, and the beers start going down, the five begin to discover that something is off. Between rounds and pubs, the group starts to discuss whether or not the town has changed, or they have. This leads to a fight with the creepy “YOLO” kids that is reminiscent of Chinese Kung Fu movies the likes of Jackie Chan would be found in. As the mates progress from pub to pub, more and more of the mystery of Newton Haven begins to unravel.
The film starts in a deceiving way and hides its true nature underneath a veil of middle-aged men trying to reconcile their present with their past. Gary very much represents the past as he still dresses the way he did when he was 18, still drives the same car, complete with the same cassette tape of music given to him more than 20 years ago by Steven. Gary is a loser, but thinks he is the hero of every story, which causes a love/hate relationship with the group of friends. Then it all changes! Wright and company manage to do a complete 180 and combine a very believable mid-life crisis film with a robot invasion. And it works!
Pegg absolutely nails the role of Gary, from his movements to his banter with the others in the film. There is an air of desperation hidden under his free spirit persona. But surprisingly, it is Frost that steals the movie this time around. Andrew is the most well-rounded character he has portrayed, even through his transformation from a stiff professional into the atomic elbow dropping fighter he needs to become.
As I mentioned earlier, the fight scenes are very reminiscent Chinese Kung Fu movies. The choreography is amazing and the actors have no problem keeping up with the action and bringing the air of humor that the Kung Fu films bring as well. It is impressive watching Frost, a small man by no means, nimbly dispatch several foes. Meanwhile, Pegg is constantly thwarted by enemies as he unsuccessfully attempt to enjoy a pint. For a film billed as comedy, the few fight scenes are among the best of the summer.
As good and Pegg and Frost are though, it all comes back to the man behind the camera… Wright. He has a style that is distinctive and unique. He has shown his range over the years with shows like Spaced and films like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. And his attention to detail is bar-none. Nothing is included in a shot if it doesn’t have some sort of meaning. Wright is a master film maker in his own right.
TWE is steeped in originality and creativity, which is sorely lacking in many films that are released these days. Wright is a master of deconstructing a genre film to honor it and make fun of it at the same time. Pegg and Frost have an uncanny knack for translating Wright’s visions to the silver screen. The World’s End is another example of their shining chemistry, and also one of the best films of the summer.
4.5 stars out of 5.