If this is how the world ends then we can all go down singing … with slurred words and a lack of balance. The World’s End is finally here and it’s the highly entertaining conclusion to the nine year ‘Three Flavoured Cornetto’ partnership between Director Edgar Wright and writer/actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The famous ice-cream ‘Cornetto’ originated as a hangover cure for Wright in college (source: IGN), made it’s way into Shaun of the Dead and eventually turned into a motif throughout the trilogy. It’s accompanied by several other recurring motifs such as the fence-jumping-scenes, frequent use of certain dialogue and using the same cast in each film. And this movie continues the trend.
Edgar went on to say his three previous Cornetto films had signature concepts which either envision a British take on Hollywood films or modernise historic events. Shaun of the Dead is the ‘nonchalant take on the Zombie apocalypse,’ Hot Fuzz being the ‘passive British policeman’s take on a Michael Bay film,’ and The World’s End is ‘like a quest movie with an extremely irresponsible King Arthur at the helm.’ (Watch the rest of the Cornetto feature interview here)
The World’s End sees Simon Pegg’s character Gary King as that King Arthur. He’s the manipulative and greedy alcoholic man-child who’s maturity, among other things, still hasn’t left his seventeen year old psyche. His lack of closure and accomplishment in present life fuels his desire to finally achieve his teenage dream of conquering the Golden Mile – a pint at all twelve pubs in his hometown Newton Haven.
King wants to relive the best night of his life and succeed where he once failed by crossing the Golden Mile and reaching the final pub – The World’s End. He wants to give his second chance a reality by barging into the lives of his four high school friends and pulling them along again for the drunken ride. His former companions Oliver (Martin Freeman), Andrew (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) have settled down with families and earn a respectable living with high-end careers so they’re not very welcoming of King’s juvenile antics. However they reluctantly agree anyway.
The boys revisit the town, King relishes in nostalgia and the quest to reach the World’s End begins. However things take an unexpected sci-fi turn when King fights a “robot” in the bathroom and begins to speculate the whole town’s been taken over by higher beings. Despite the potential fatal danger, King still makes it his goal to reach The World’s End even if it kills him.
The acting in this film is superb; everyone seemed to know their character thoroughly and their portrayals were greatly appreciated. Simon Pegg is impeccably interesting as Gary King. He’s ludicrous, loud, over the top and damn well entertaining in contrast to his four mild-mannered colleagues. Martin Freeman is perfect as the stiff, tight-arsed realtor, Eddie Marsan charmingly pulls off the bubbly, innocent member of the gang and Paddy’s sarcastic but lovelorn character is believable and humourous. However the most impressive actor was Nick Frost as his character is finally that of responsibility and intelligence rather than the child-like dullard in the previous Cornetto films.
Frost’s character Andrew refuses to touch a drop of alcohol due to an ‘accident’ he had with King decades ago which adds tension and mystery to the boys damaged pasts and also serves as the catalyst of their broken friendship. It’s also good to see him in the role of an action hero, flawlessly brushing off hordes of invaders (which the boys call “blanks”) and decapitating their heads with bar stools. However this also comes as a slight downfall as it detracts from the reality of these characters who’ve somehow changed from average-joe white collar workers into superstar action heroes.
Edgar who eases his way back behind the lens after Scott Pilgrim vs the World pulls off some stylishly gritty cinematography and emotional storytelling once again. The overall film’s pacing is quick thanks to some hard cuts and fast camera movements.There’s long lasting following shots which slide between each fighting pair and it’s drawn back just far enough for the audience to see every single arm swing. Wright’s use of close-ups for establishing shots such as looking through the bottom of an empty schooner glass or filling up another pint emphasises the grittiness of small town pubs and develops a country attachment for the audience. His pub fight scenes are emulative of Guy Richie films and portrays the country bumpkin side of the United Kingdom rather than the pompous, glamourous version of Britain.
The story’s plot is not so complex so people who ‘didn’t get’ Inception can rest easy. However, the film buffs and English teachers who analyse the metaphors and symbolism of films can be mentally stimulated. Another great aspect of the story is that it’s not cliche. Due to this it parodies the fact that it’s not a typical cliche-ridden feature. Without giving too much of the story away I’ll just say there’s a clever joke at the end which pokes fun at love interests in most films. While the jokes are clever, they’re not laugh-out-loud funny. A few times I would crack a smile or whisper a faint chuckle but never hard enough to choke on my popcorn. The film’s conclusion is loud and explosive much like it’s predecessors and it eventually turns into a social comment on the effects of universal networking and globalisation. However it’s King and Andy’s speech about the flaws and stubbornness of humanity which boosts satirical elevation.
The World’s End ranks as the highest of the trilogy in my opinion, however it’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as it’s predecessors. It’s a clever film which demonstrates these three filmmakers are too smart for Hollywood. It destroys the illusion that Britain is this prestigious, high class society seen in a lot of films and brings it’s glamourisation down to earth in this very entertaining out-of-world film.