If you asked me to make a list of my favourite working directors today, Edgar Wright would definitely be on that list. I’ve absolutely loved everything that he directed that he has made so far and I’m always look forward to whichever film he brings out next. So I was definitely excited to check out his latest film, which happens to be the third and final film in his un-official “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy”: THE WORLD’S END. Having loved the two previous films in the trilogy (SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ), I had pretty high expectations for this one. So now you’re probably wondering, did the film manage to live to the other two films? I’m happy to report that it absolutely did!
The film tells the story of a group of five childhood friends – Gary (Simon Pegg), Andrew (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) – who decide reunite together and head out to their old hometown so that they can finish an epic pub crawl that they never finished when they were teenagers twenty years earlier. Their plan is to visit and have a beer in all 12 pubs that are in their hometown: starting with the very first pub “The First Post” to the last one that they never manage to get to called “The World’s End”. Over the course of the night, the friends start to notice something very strange about the towns folk, they soon discover that their hometown has been taken over by alien robots.
There is a lot more to the plot than that but I won’t reveal anymore because that would go into spoiler territory but what I can say is that while I do admit that THE WORLD’S END it is not quite on the same level as SHAUN or FUZZ (only just by a little tiny bit) but co-writer/director Edgar Wright (along with co-writer/star Simon Pegg) has still crafted an absolutely awesome sci-fi/comedy that I found to be both extremely hilarious and entertaining. This is definitely Wright and Pegg’s love letter to sci-fi films, particularly the alien invasion films (while watching it, you can definitely tell that INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS was a big influence on it). However one of the things that surprised me most about the film is that while it does share the blueprint as SHAUN and FUZZ, it happens to also be a bit of a departure from those other films as well.
In fact I would say that this is definitely the most mature and emotional of Wright’s films so far, especially when it came to the characters and their relationships with each other. It added a lot of emotionally charged scenes that I surprisingly didn’t expect to find in a film like this (some of which reminded me of a particular heartbreaking scene from SHAUN, which I won’t spoil). Some people might be put off by the tonal shifts between the comedy and the drama but for me personally I thought it added to the film and made even more engaging. Plus were certain aspects of the plot that I actually didn’t see coming. That’s not to say the film is entirely a drama, this is still a comedy after all. There are some really great scenes and dialogue that were absolutely hilarious. Wright does another fantastic job with direction, his trademark visual style works wonders once again and handles every single aspect of the film perfectly. His staging of the film’s action/fight scenes are brilliant. Even though the fight scenes themselves are shot in hand-held style, they are done in a way that you can still see what is going and they have kinetic feel to them. Plus I like how makes them look like they were done in one-take.
The entire cast all do a wonderful with their performances but the one who really impressed me the most was Simon Pegg. His turn as “Gary” was fantastic and it was really interesting to see him play a character who was a completely unlikable and self-centred alcoholic. It would have been a very difficult role to play but Pegg does a great job for making us as an audience feel some empathy towards him as the film goes on, plus . Nick Frost does a great job playing the straight man this time around as “Andrew”. He also brings some interesting layers to his character as well and his scenes Pegg are definitely a highlight. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike, who plays “Sam”, are great as well and each actor has a memorable to play with (Considine is the stand out of the supporting cast). Plus there are a couple of familiar faces who pop-up in bit-parts during the film (there is one major cameo which I didn’t expect at all from a very well know actor in this film, I won’t say who it is but I think everyone is going to get a kick out it when he/she turns up). Also the script by Wright and Pegg is terrific, the cinematography by Bill Pope (THE MATRIX trilogy, SPIDER-MAN 2, SCOTT PILGRIM) is great, the soundtrack is fantastic and the aliens themselves are quite creative.
On the negative front, I don’t really have much but the film does have a couple of flaws. My main one being that while I thought that ending was fine overall, I think it could have been a lot stronger. There are some really interesting elements about both the aliens and their motivations for invading Earth but I don’t think they were really explored enough for my liking. Another thing that did disappointed me a bit about the film was the lack of references, in-jokes and homages. Both SHAUN and FUZZ were full of those (particularly to the genres that those two film pay homage to) but Wright doesn’t do that this time around when it comes to this film (although a couple of running gags that featured in the other films do make appearances here). I suppose since this one was going to have a more mature tone to it he decided to downplay them, which is fine and the film still works regardless of them but I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss them. Also while I did think that Rosamund Pike was solid as “Sam”, I did think that she was a bit underused and in a way her character wasn’t really needed.
Overall I do have a couple of little issues with THE WORLD’S END, in the end it’s still an awesome and hilarious final chapter in the “Three Flavour Cornetto” trilogy. If you are a big fan of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, you’re definitely going to love this one as well. It’s one of my favourite comedies of the year so far.
Review by Bede Jermyn