The World’s End (12A)
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and Rosamund Pike
Running Time: 109 mins
When a bunch of old school friends who haven’t met in over ten years reunite to finish ‘the golden mile’ – a stretch of pubs in their old town that years before was the scene of a failed night of drinking – they soon notice that things in their old home town have changed… in an epic and alien way.
The third in the Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End is the closing chapter after the superb Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz and it has a lot riding on it. And, thankfully it pulls it off nicely. For the most part.
The story itself is, despite its complexities, pretty straightforward; Gary King (Pegg) is a thirty-something who’s life is falling apart around him and who holds on to days gone by and the memory of that one fateful night where, as his school days drew to a close, he and his friends went on the golden mile – 12 pubs, one mile and an extreme night of drinking – but none made it to the last pub, The World’s End. So he decides to reunite the old gang – Andrew (Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsden), Steven (Paddy Considine) and, inadvertently, Oliver’s sister Sam (Pike) – by any means necessary to get them on the mile and to finish what was started years before, and to possibly give meaning to his life that has spiralled wildly out of his control ever since that night.
However, when the friends reluctantly meet up in their old home town they realise that there is little between them anymore and King, once the ring leader, is now simply an annoyance to them all – especially Andy who harbours an as yet unrevealed grudge. However, just as things get to their lowest point and the friends decide to call quits on the night before things can get any worse, things actually do get worse as it turns out that yes, aliens are taking over the town and the friends may just be humanity’s last chance… and there’s only one way to save earth and that’s to make it to The World’s End.
Comparing The World’s End to Shaun Of The End and Hot Fuzz is a pointless endeavour because, just as Fuzz was a different animal to Shaun, World’s End is a different creature again – yes there are some links with gags running through all three and the pop references are fast and furious but, like the Mint Choc Chip Cornetto it represents, this movie is an acquired taste and even more than the first two parts in the trilogy this will divide audiences if not hardcore fans – it already has here at FTN towers somewhat.
Personally, I loved every second of it. It felt like a natural progression in the series with Shaun dealing with relationships and how these affect friendships, Hot Fuzz deals with new friendships in a new world and The World’s End deals with friendships lost and what they really mean; it’s a coming of age movie for our generation – thirty somethings on the verge of mid-life who have drifted away from what was important years before and how sometimes things are better left in nostalgia.
Where the first two movies were laced with action and laughs but never at the expense of character, The World’s End does lose some of this personal feel, however it’s a movie that has six main characters but at the core is, once more, the love between King and Andy – Pegg and Frost – and while it never lets up, every character is well represented and rounded… and each is given a realistic and identifiable heart by the actors. They are real people in an unreal situation and each has a journey to finish, just not necessarily the one they think they are there for.
In the six years since Hot Fuzz director Wright has made the hyper Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, and it’s obvious that what he learned there he wanted to apply to this story. His direction is confident and superb. When the robots (‘They’re not robots!’) are finally revealed, the resulting skirmish is not only brilliant, fast, frantic and totally grin inducing, but arguably the scene of 2013 so far. I can’t wait to see what he brings to Marvel’s Ant-man.
The script races along nicely with the laughs coming a little less rapidly than before – this movie has a more sober (ahem) underbelly which leaves a little less space for the giggles; that said, it’s still funnier than anything else this summer – yes This Is The End, I’m looking at you – and it also has heart and soul.
However, there are a few issues. The story is a bit repetitive with the journey from pub and fight to pub and fight wearing a little thin – although it never fails to entertain. Another issue comes in the final act. The grand reveal feels a little, well, tired. The reason for the invasion and what exactly is happening in the town/world is explained but it was already clearly signposted throughout the movie and brings nothing we didn’t already know. Also it feels not so much like they didn’t know how to end the movie, but rather there was an idea of what the end would be and, even though it doesn’t really gel with what went before, it’s what we got.
Overall this should more than please fans of the first two movies – some have said it’s not as good as the first two (personally I think it pips Shaun, but I need to watch it another few times to be sure) but that’s like saying Jedi isn’t as good as Hope and Empire, fair enough but it’s not exactly a criticism.
Because the final act lacks some of the promise that went before, it’s not perfect but on the way to the final twenty minutes you’ll be totally entertained… smart, funny, exciting and with characters you’ll care about, what more could you want?
How’s that for (another) slice of fried gold?