Also posted on LiveForFilms
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
The World's End Review
Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Synopsis: Gary King (Pegg) assembles his childhood friends to reattempt an epic pub crawl in their hometown. However, upon getting there they discover the town has been taken over by aliens and the only way to go unnoticed is to carry on their crawl until they reach The World’s End.
Topping Spaced must have had Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost full of trepidation to begin with. With their innate comic sensibilities, however, that worry didn’t last long once The Good Companions came up with Shaun of the Dead. The success of Shaun – from commercial, critical and global appreciation – then made the prospect of a second film quite daunting. Hot Fuzz, as it came to be, was not as wonderful as Shaun of the Dead or Spaced but it made for an entertaining two hours, with a final 30 minutes that was plain ace. So, for the end of their much loved “Blood and Ice Cream”/“Cornetto” trilogy the last instalment means a lot. It’s then a shame that even with some Old Familiar jokes and our best British buddy icons – Pegg and Frost – together again with Wright that The World’s End is not a satisfying end to such a beloved set of films.
One of the main issues with Hot Fuzz lacking Shaun’s certifiable appeal was seeing Pegg go from daft yet doting figure in the First Post of the trilogy film to a stern and slightly cold figure in the next. The World’s End sees him play a weird combination of the two; Gary King is, for the most part, asinine and irksome. Aspects of his back story explain some of these characteristic and help to humanism him past the annoying qualities, but he’ll never be the character you admire the most. He labels himself “The King” but in his friend’s and audience’s eyes he’s just the Famous Cock of the bunch, strutting his stuff, ignorant towards others. Frost’s Andrew is similarly tough to love at the start but soon (after he’s had a few pints) steals the show, just like the Trusty Servant he always is as the comic support. Rosamund Pike as the love interest is token and dull, whilst the Mermaid-esque “Marmalade Sandwich” are far more fun and interesting. The remaining players, mainly Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan serve to aid exposition and occasional narrative momentum but fail to give the ensemble the same soul that the Spaced crew mustered.
The constant comparison to the trio’s previous work is hard to let slide, especially with a barrage of cameos and occasional in-jokes we’ve come to know over the years. They are always lovely reminders as to how far the cast and crew have all come, and to highlight the fan base they’ve built up. The World’s End is a Beehive of the Cornetto trilogy actors and contemporary comic stars, popping up to please you past the narrative and dialogue. Some actors are missed (Peter Serafinowicz and Jessica Hynes went unspotted), leaving you with the feeling that it’s not all said and done. This may be deemed the final chapter in the Cornetto trilogy but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. Expecting some sort of bow from the lot of them once the credits start rolling, this is not a heartfelt goodbye/trilogy sign-off from Pegg, Wright and Frost and the curiosity as to why leaves a damper on it all. Overall it’s hard to tell what tonality Pegg and Wright (as the writers) are after; it’s like the film’s Two Headed Dog image, one’s attention on one thing and one’s on something else.
Without the trio’s names on the billing/in someone else’s hands, this film would be a write-off. It’s a mark of the team’s brilliance that they have made such an abnormal film without a studio or test-audience’s involvement – a testament to what they mean to British entertainment, working only with each other. The plot never really lulls once it gets going but it takes a slow 30 minutes for drinks and fun to be had. The pub crawl plot is a brilliantly inventive narrative – linear with countless opportunities for side-stepping and disequilibrium. The town invasion story is where the chaos really ensues but the basic premise is used in conjunction with aliens terrifically.
After Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and the upcoming Antman, Wright has mastered his fight choreography with The World’s End sporting some excellent fight sequences. One moment sees Gary attempting to fend off a hoard of the townspeople whilst trying not to spill his pint. It’s a fantastic piece of physical humour – you can tell all of what’s going through King’s Head to keep that pint full as Pegg has become a masterful comic actor; Buster Keaton would have been proud. With many a Hole in the Wall/window, fires, and blood/ink splatters when fights really erupt, it’s a fun and exciting ride when it wants to be. Sadly, it builds and builds to a crescendo that neither satisfies nor leaves any great moments in its wake. What we do benefit from is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of the aforementioned Cornetto at the end – the best gag saved till last.
With the town invasion aside that harks back to Shaun’s thematic as well as Hot Fuzz’s eerie rural village focus, it certainly feels like part of the trilogy. However, the humour and characters are disappointingly average in relation to what’s come before. With the jokes about the Starbucks effect on pubs, Frost once he’s had a few, and a handful of guests that put a smile on your face, The World’s End keeps you entertained and chuckling, but never thrilled and in stitches. Much like a night of drinking, it seems to get better as more alcohol becomes consumed but may induce a sickly feeling for the bound-to-be-disappointed fans who were awaiting a triumphant finish to the Blood and Ice Cream films.