Review: The World’s End

The-World's-End

The last in the Cornetto Trilogy is a sci-fi, which completes a trio of zombie-romantic-comedy (Shaun of the Dead) and buddy-cop-action film (Hot Fuzz). So it needed to live up to a fairly high bench mark. So, does it?

The film starts in the late 80s/early 90s in Newton Haven and five friends are out on a pub crawl in their home town, trying to get through 12 pubs in one night. While on the night out things go a little wrong and they never make it to The World’s End, the pub at the end of the route. Flash forward about 20 years and Gary King (Simon Pegg), the self-styled leader of the group hasn’t moved on; he still wears the same goth-style clothing, drives the same car he bought for £300 when he was young – which has the same mix tape in the player, lives in a small bed-sit and appears not to even have a job. He’s pretty much at rock bottom, while telling his story to an Alcoholics Anonymous group he is struck by the thought that completing the pub crawl will sort out his problems.

Somehow, Gary persuades his friends, who are all quite successful in their careers, have families and mortgages, etc, they are also quite reluctant to go back to their home town and indulge in a teenage fantasy. The group consists of Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Masan), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Andrew (Nick Frost), the latter of who doesn’t drink anymore due to something that happened in the past. Gary is appalled at this and is constantly ribbing Andrew for it. Gary and Steven also find out that Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike) is passing through and will be making a fleeting visit. This sparks some rivalry between the two of them as they both had a crush on her in their teens.

This is the biggest problem with the central character of Gary. Simon Pegg is playing against type, in fact, all of the central men are. Pegg is playing a nasty, unsympathetic waster, Nick Frost plays the straight man, which is quite refreshing, Paddy Considine is playing a reserved, shy character, Eddie Marsan plays a socially awkward man who works for his Dada at a car dealership and Martin Freeman… alright, so he plays a slightly repressed, uptight guy. But Pegg’s character is so single-minded and slimy that you wonder why these upstanding men would feel bad enough for him to go on a night out with him, even with the guilt trips he plays.

Almost as soon as they get to Newton Haven things get strange, all the pubs are the same and everyone is staring at them but no one they recognise, from bar tenders to ex-school bullies, remembers who they are. After a bit of a fall out Gary goes off into the toilet and has a strange confrontation  with teen. From here on in the world turns upsides down  and this dysfunctional, drunk group suddenly realise they’re gonna have to work together to get out of Newton Abbot alive.

Quite why they decide to carry on with the pub crawl is a bit far-fetched, but it’s explained away by the fact that people in the town know what their plans were and so they should continue as if nothing is happening – plus Andrew, the tea total – under the weight of what is unfolding around him has started drinking for the first time in over a decade. This means they have to make it to The World’s End at last. Along the way there are crazy fight scenes, people with blue light coming out of their eyes and mouths, a raunchy school disco night and an appearance from another ex-James Bond!

The final stand-off between the remaining humans and the ‘aliens’ happens in (or under) The World’s End where, eventually, Gary’s relentless argumentative streak pays off and he pisses of the would be conqueror so much it gives in, but not before wrecking havoc on the entire planet. Any more about the plot and it would be even more spoiled, so no more.

This really is the biggest of the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ in both budget and scope and there is something to be said that the more money is thrown at these films the less they resemble what came before. This film is nothing like Spaced and is a long way removed from Shaun of the Dead, however, it isn’t a massive visual step up from Hot Fuzz. The comedy is still there, though the seems to be more reliance on slapstick (which is great, especially the fight scenes) and swearing than sharp dialogue (it is still there, but you have to listen).

To try to answer the question set at the beginning of this piece, some will be disappointed with the final instalment of the trilogy, but it is still incredibly enjoyable and has that Edgar Wright touch where everywhere you look are visual gags or references to other movies and TV shows and even some self referential touches like the pub sign for The King’s Head pub which is a strange amalgamation of Pegg and Wright. Once you get your head around the fact the actors are playing against type it becomes kind of refreshing, even if Gary King is slightly too obnoxious, the acting is damn fine. Another game that is fun to play is to spot the actors that have appeared in all the other Wright/Pegg/Frost productions like Mar Heap and Julia Deakins.

This is a fitting ending to the trilogy, but hopefully it won’t be the last time these three produce a TV series or films.

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