I went in to the cinema knowing two things about The World’s End: there was an epic pub crawl involved and things that glow would get in the way of said crawl. So opening up with a trip down memory lane for the film’s main characters meant that things started off far slower than the trailers would have you believe. Simon Pegg’s character – Gary – does, however, do a good job of disarming veterans of his, Nick Frost’s (Andrew) and Edgar Wright’s (directing) earlier work together. They knew people would be coming in with expectations due to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and these are shattered just long enough, so that you will be surprised and fascinated by what was happening on screen.
There are first times for everything. Watching The World’s End – the finale to the stellar Cornetto Trilogy – was the first time I had the chance to watch a SF-comedy-kitchen-sink-drama-action film. Or was it? It’s been sometime since I watched the earlier films in the series, but now dwelling on it, I think I’ve realised that they’ve all had this bizarre, and kinda British way of blending genres together. And it’s this blurring of comedic timing, kitchen sink drama, science fiction, and high action that marks this film out from similar contemporaries that have been generated across the pond and seen their release this summer. (I’m thinking This Is The End and pretty much every blockbuster we’ve had this summer – Pegg, Frost and Wright’s latest outing is a great remedy to all the building levelling action of Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 and even Pegg’s latest Hollywood outing – Star Trek Into Darkness.)
Don’t expect a film with Pegg as the good guy this time. One of the most surprising aspects of this film is the relationship between Gary (Pegg) and Andrew (Frost) shows that their roles have been reversed. Whereas Frost has previously played an annoying, but nice guy and Pegg has been a practical, but forgiving guy, in the previous films of the trilogy, their roles are reversed this time round. The character of Gary is even more frustrating than Ed or Danny – he made me want to shout at the screen (I restrained myself, in case you’re wondering), but you forgive him because he’s such a tragic character, far more tragic than any of the pair’s main characters in then earlier films.
Paul Blewitt’s thoughts
Anybody who has been watching Pegg since Spaced would recognise most of the starring actors. But just because they’ve done good work in the past, doesn’t mean this one is good. Well, it is. The team behind it are once again on form, merging their special brand of comedic performance with, at it’s heart, a serious but farcical story. Because that’s part of the magic of Pegg, Frost and Wright – they don’t sacrifice actual story for cheap laughs.
And they don’t skimp on the special effects either. The caliber of filmmaking has always been high and this carries on that tradition.
Personally, I hope they continue and create a second cornetto trilogy, as there are plenty more themes and stories to tell. But even if they don’t, Pegg, Frost and Wright will continue to be at the heart of the British film scene.
Overall, if the world was going to end, I’d want this to be my very last film I watch.
Watching the film, I kept wanting to draw comparisons to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Hangover series. There’s definitely a thematic link between the kinds of antagonistic forces of the first two versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which SF fans will hopefully appreciate among the multitude of references the film fits in. And The Hangover? The scenario of Gary, Andrew, Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine) having lives that they wanted to get away from was made far more believable here than the any of the lives lived by the characters in The Hangover films. This believable-ness of the characters and their highly flawed lives made it easier to feel concerned for them and not wanting most of them dead when the shit started hitting the fan.
The determination of Gary to see through his quest to have a drink in each of the pubs of Newtown Haven is about the only thing standing between the characters and a pace of action that would have led to one continuous fight scene that wouldn’t have broken-up between pubs. Keeping things bottled-up long enough so that when battles between the characters and the town’s residents happen, they feel like a thunderstorm after ten days of continuous, humid sunshine – the fights are much needed rather than excessive. It’s just a shame that the breaks in the film’s progress and action are broken-up by a lot venomous conversations between the main characters, where a lot of exposition is exchanged, but we’re rarely shown why things are the way they are between them.
Some might find the mixture of genre and introspection unsettling, but The World’s End is a much needed distraction from most of the fare currently lurking in Britain’s cinemas. And if you’ve watched the previous two films in the Cornetto Trilogy then you should definitely watch this finale.
The World’s End is out now in cinemas in the UK. We paid for our own tickets.