Film Review: The World’s End

0 The World's EndNever mind the expectations of the wider critical and commercial playing fields. The World’s End has the misfortune to be burdened with a huge personal expectation. Namely, it follows in the mighty footsteps of my favourite comedy film of all time: Shaun Of The Dead. As the apparent closer to the alleged “trilogy” of Cornetto films, a lot was riding on Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (as well as the larger cast and crew, of course) to deliver a resplendent final bite of the ice-cream.

But praise Angel: they’ve managed it. Somehow, The World’s End manages to stand simultaneously as the team’s most mature and most unhinged caper. Beneath the breathless, madcap surface bubbles a striking darkness, exposed in a handful of storytelling twists and revelations. The result is a pleasantly surprising viewing experience; one which isn’t entirely seamless, but crackles with a gleeful energy and a juicy gag-rate nonetheless.

Local “legend” and lunatic Gary King (Simon Pegg) attempts to recapture “the best night of [his] life” 20 years after its passing. Corralling the five adrift members of his school gang, he returns them all to the sleepy suburbia of Newton Haven to try and conquer the legendary Golden Mile pub crawl. Having failed to successfully reach all 12 of the locales two decades ago, Gary is determined to make amends this time by making it all the way to the final, titular establishment – or die trying. Unfortunately, the route is complicated when the group realise that the town is in the grip of a strange and sinister force: one which could well bring doom to the human race – not to mention the conquest of the Golden Mile.

Fittingly for its premise, being back with the creative triumvirate is like being reunited with old friends. Wright-Pegg-Frost films inhabit a beautifully distinguishable sphere, wherein that peculiar strain of British quaintness is both celebrated and lampooned at once. From the tics and quirks of its semblance of characters (tea-making, pub-worshipping, “I ran it under a cold tap”) to chuckling at ‘Village Of The Year’ awards, much of the comedy of this series of films has stemmed from deft, wholesome ribbing, as opposed to cheap gags. And indeed, the quintessential Englishness of its composition is a large factor in making The World’s End so damn enjoyable.

0 The Return of the Backstreet BoysAfter all, regardless of its sci-fi bent, it’s clear that this is a film made with the impetus to entertain above anything else. And on that front, it takes home the cuddly monkey. The World’s End is an absolute hoot, packing delights in the form of snappy cameos, sumptuous dialogue (“you’re drinking fucking rain!”) and some classic slapstick grace notes. It’s a relief, too, that past favourites don’t become a point of indulgence, with the script kept lean and fresh for the most part, save for a couple of cracking (and well-earned) throwback gags.

A real blessing comes in the form of the ensemble cast, all of whom are absolutely dazzling, easing into their collaborative roles with a chemistry that can’t be faked. Pegg himself has a ball of a time as the perpetual loser Gary, while Frost undergoes a joyous transformation from unflappable buzz-kill to a drunken cocktail of fury. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan are equally delightful company to be around, with the latter two players stealing more than a few scenes as the deadpan Oliver and soft-spoken Peter respectively.

In terms of its stylistics, it’s easy to see where the hyper-kinetics of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World have rubbed off on Wright’s (already-fizzing) flair. Such skills are most visible in a couple of tremendously lucid fight sequences, which supply the same deliriously giddy thrills as the latter half of Hot Fuzz. Wright’s talent has blossomed steadily ever since the Spaced years, and it’s remarkable to witness his approach becoming truly distinguishable and versatile. Tellingly, the only moments where The World’s End doesn’t visually glow are in its CGI-heavy passages, some of which aren’t quite smooth enough to cover the herky-jerkiness of the weaker effects.

0 Bad tilingThis is one of several shortfalls which do hamper the film, and it must also be admitted that The World’s End doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors. It misses the start-to-finish perfection of Shaun Of The Dead, and it lacks the seamless genre-play of Hot Fuzz; perhaps as a consequence of trying to fit too many ideas into 109 minutes of screen-time. Some aspects feel a little undercooked, including a subplot involving a love triangle between Gary, Steven (Considine) and Rosamund Pike’s Sam. In strands such as this one, the emotional tug of The World’s End feels constricted by its busyness elsewhere.

In addition, when the big twists do arrive, several of them are more than a little jarring, to the point that, when some of the extremes are revealed, the whole thing seems utterly ridiculous. Thankfully, the entertainment factor keeps everything in check for the most part, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up (and even stomach) the film’s escalation towards its colossal conclusion. The final half-hour or so is so outrageous and outlandish in tone that some viewers will find themselves completely dislocated from what originally begins as a very straightforward comedy flick.

But ultimately, interior logic has never been crucial to the successes of each Cornetto offering. There’s no point in questioning a zombie apocalypse or a murky Neighbourhood Watch Alliance when the comedy is as ripe as this, and even though The World’s End does push the envelope much, MUCH further than anything previous, its shortcomings gradually fade away in the afterglow of what is essentially a wild, raucous thrill-ride, filled-to-foaming with quotable goodness. There are flaws for plenty to pick over once the credits have rolled and the whole trilogy is fully digested, but the bottom line is this: you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more entertaining slice of cinema this summer.

Drink up, let’s Boo Boo.

8/10

The World’s End is a frickin’ hilarious slice of madness, providing a satisfactory conclusion to the much-loved “Cornetto Trilogy”. And even if it’s not quite fried gold, we’ll always have the disableds.

25/07/13

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Posted on July 25, 2013, in The Film World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Saw these three guys the other night at an outdoor double feature of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (The World’s End was indoor – I couldn’t get tickets) here in Texas. Now I have to get in to see The World’s End.

    Thanks for sharing.

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