The World’s End (★★★)

5

worlds_end_ver4After successfully taking the piss out of zombie movies with Shaun of the Dead and action movies with Hot Fuzz (while clearly showing off the love of both genres as well), Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are back to finish their so called “Blood and Ice Cream trilogy” by turning their attention to the apocalypse/body snatching flicks with The World’s End. Co-writer/director Wright and co-writer/star Pegg have crafted something far more mature than their previous collaborations, though some of that added weight comes at the expense of the comedy and satire normally on display. Still, this is a very funny film and again makes great use of Pegg and his co-star Nick Frost. With a tremendous supporting cast on display and more on his mind than just playing around end of the world type cliches, Wright has made something both right in his wheelhouse and a step in a new direction. Though perhaps not the absolute classic that some had hoped for, The World’s End is still massively entertaining and about as satisfying as a sci-fi comedy can get. I don’t think this crew will be gaining any new fans here (Wright is still mostly a cult filmmaker) or significantly improving on their previous box office takes, but those who appreciate their work already will be thrilled for the most part with this one, mark my words…

For Gary King (Pegg), the best day of his life was two decades ago when he and his close friends attempted a rather epic pub crawl. They’d planned on hitting a dozen bars in one night, but didn’t quite make it the whole way. Still, they had a blast and had their whole lives ahead of them. Fast forward to the present, and while Andy Knightley (Frost), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) have grown up and have reasonably happy/normal lives, Gary has remained in a state of arrested development. On what seems like a whim, Gary decides to get the long since separated crew back together and head to their home town of Newton Haven and try the crawl again, which is known as the Golden Mile. At first, they’re just concerned with Gary’s behavior, but soon it becomes clear that the residents of the town have something wrong with them as well. Before long, making their way to the final pub (of course called The World’s End) becomes more than just a goal for Gary…it becomes a quest for survival. It seems that the townspeople have been replaced by…something. Along the way they run into Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike) who once hooked up with Gary, try and deal with their evolving relationships, and confront middle age, but the second half of the film takes a definite science fiction bent. The final act is a little inconsistent, though a few of the scenes are absolutely genius and include some of the best moments in the entire film.

The-Worlds-End-2050284I was pleased to see Simon Pegg get to do something a little bit different here. This is a slightly darker character than he usually plays, though don’t get me wrong, Pegg is here for comedy. He’s certainly capable in the more melancholy moments that Gary has to go through, but it never descends into melodrama. Aside from Pegg’s Gary, the supporting player given the most attention is Nick Frost, whose chemistry with Pegg is again put to good use. Frost also gets a bit of a different sort of role here and he doesn’t waste it. Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan seem to be relishing getting to play lighter characters than usual (though the latter gets a little more to play with script wise than the former does), while Martin Freeman and especially Rosamund Pike are mostly under used, though neither is bad. Also in the cast is Bill Nighy (or at least his voice), David Bradley, Rafe Spall, and a cameo from one of the former James Bonds. The ensemble all play off of each other well, though Pegg is the best of the bunch once again. Even those who don’t have as much to do like Freeman and Pike get moments to shine.

Edgar Wright again shows that he’s about as joyful a filmmaker as there is in the business, though he does demonstrate an ability to get a little more serious than usual. His visual style is as kinetic and amusing as ever (if a little hurt by some only decent CGI here and there), while his writing hasn’t lost a step either. The script that Wright co-wrote with Pegg isn’t quite as hilarious as Shaun of the Dead, for example, but I’d say it’s funnier than Hot Fuzz (to me, at least). Overall, I think that Wright demonstrated his talents best with his adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs the World, but The World’s End is in some ways his most interesting. I wish he’d have cut down on the chase sequences in the second and third act, as they hurt the pacing a bit, but the climax and epilogue to the story are damn brilliant. There’s more than a bit of Monty Python there, and I can always appreciate that. Some might not love how off the rails things get in the final 15 minutes or so, but I dug it.

The World’s End isn’t strictly an apocalypse satire, but it does have some rather amusing things to say about end of the world and body snatcher type films while telling it’s more grounded story about middle age. Edgar Wright continues to be a talented filmmaker telling his own brand of stories, and if he’s done working with Simon Pegg for now, they’re going out on a strong note. Unless you really don’t dig on British humor, it’s hard for me to imagine this not really pleasing the vast majority of you all. I didn’t fall in love with The World’s End, but I did like it a lot and would recommend it without hesitation. The summer may be nearly over, but the season saved a very nice film for almost last…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!