“Sharp, fun and chest-burstingly funny!”
The World’s End is a nostalgic buddy comedy inter-spliced with surreal science fiction and firm nods towards extraterrestrial invasion films like The Invasion of The Body Snatchers. In true ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ style it is set in a seemingly harmless and quintessential English town with a – you guessed it – dark secret.
Directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, The World’s End tells the strange story of five middle aged men and their somewhat strained friendships as they attempt to complete the Golden Mile pub crawl in their hometown of Newton Haven. Twenty years previous they attempted and failed the aforementioned Golden Mile before going their separate ways and settling into career jobs… for the most part. The reunion is orchestrated by gothic hedonist Gary King (Pegg) – desperate to rekindle his teenage heyday – who brings together his reluctant old gang, Peter (Marsan), Oliver (Freeman), Stephen (Considine) and Andrew (Frost), for a last ditch attempt at the crawl where The World’s End pub is the final post. As the pints are downed, old grievances are uprooted and many of Gary’s previous (and current) misdeeds are revealed, the true changed nature of Newton Haven begins to surface. An apparent invasion, reminiscent of The Body Snatchers, appears to have taken hold of the town, with the inhabitants replaced by robots known as ‘Blanks’. They continue the crawl in a bid to avoid suspicion, which doesn’t last beyond the length of a pint. With Gary determined to finish the crawl, whatever the consequences, the group are forced to battle with the abnormally strong, agile and eerily alien Blanks as they attempt to reach The World’s End.
As with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this is a highly stylised, sharp and obsessively groomed film created by a love of cinema and satire. The storyline is clever, the banter is witty and the Cornetto-universe references are beautifully interwoven. The side step from the traditional lead of the ‘loveable’ loser in the previous films to the less-than-loveable and extremely untrustworthy Gary somehow makes the lead character more memorable, if not a little overbearing when compared to the other characters who are not without their charms. The fights scenes are laughably violent in true SF style and beautifully filmed and choreographed. Beneath the madness, there are several social messages bubbling beneath the surface covering all the bases: friendship, loyalty, tolerance, love, forgiveness, aging, what it is to be a human and all of the usual sentiments unearthed in anything remotely nostalgic. But there is also a strong commentary on uniformity and corporate takeovers (or ‘Starbucking’ as it is delightfully referred to).
As for the downsides, there is a distinct lack of genre satire in comparison to the earlier films in the trilogy, which many would regard as one of the most appealing factors of the Cornettos. While Shaun was a strong satire of the ever popular zombie film and Fuzz was a fanatical depiction of the buddy cop action film, The World’s End doesn’t fully feel like a parody of the alien invasion subgenre, and is somewhat standalone in its satirical stance, making it feel as though it is a satire of itself.
The World’s End is a sharp, fun and, at times, chest-burstingly funny film. It may not be the strongest of the Cornetto series, but it is a noteworthy finale with an enjoyable booze-laced journey.
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Eddy Marsan, Bill Nighy
Running Time: 109 minutes
Cinema Release Date: 19 July 2013
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