The World’s End

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike
Length: 109 minutes
Country: UK

The World’s End brings to a close Edgar Wright’s world conquering Cornetto trilogy. It’s been six years since Hot Fuzz proved the sustainable presence of Wright’s pastiche comedy style and in that time 2010’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World proved a financial failure but a cult success. So expectations for the most part remain high for this climax of this series, in which five friends reunite to complete a failed pub crawl from twenty years earlier as they become unknowingly involved in the fight against the apocalypse.

The World’s End takes a much darker direction in theme and tone to the previous showings of the trilogy and the poignant interactions between Pegg and Frost near the films end resonate just that touch more than in previous films. It should be noted that this darker tone is somewhat different in nature to the previous films in the series. While all three films stand at a fifteen rating, the previous two held this due mostly to their violent content. Here the rating is more likely in connection to the language and drug usage referred to in the characters story lines. The vast majority of blood shown on screen in in fact blue which probably tones down the gritty nature of the violence and while this would not normally be a problem, the action sequences are left with a strange cartoon like feel that was not the case in the previous two films, making them stick out even more from the darkened content that has been added to this chapter of the trilogy.

One of the film’s interesting choices is the role reversal of Pegg and Frost’s characters in a fun subversion of expectations. Previously Frost played the trouble making, simple-minded slob of the pair, here he takes on the straight man role against Pegg’s Gary King, a divisive but inevitably crucial character in the film’s exploration of the search to re-capture youth. Many who have seen this film have found Pegg’s character too insufferable to enjoy his performance, but on another level it seems like this is supposed to be the point. While Pegg does a good job of balancing the darker moments of the character against the broader comedy context, it seems as if Frost is left as a bit of a damp squib where his character’s straight man set up leaves him lacking any exceptional moments of brilliance.

One of the film’s interesting choices is the role reversal of Pegg and Frost’s characters in a fun subversion of expectations

The film’s soundtrack echoes the characters teenage years in the late 80’s and early 90’s and is frankly an absolute joyride for any fan of The Stone Roses, Primal Scream or The Happy Mondays. The music is perhaps where the film best captures the theme of youthful revolt trying to be revisited in later life.

While the film certainly succeeds in sticking to the adventurous comedy aesthetic of its predecessors, its insertion of repeated gags more often than not feels forced and leaves an empty feeling where a deep belly laugh should be. While trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible, the definitive moment that shows why this film falls short of expectations comes when an early exposition delivered by a character comes to echo further through the story in a manner near identical to a scene in Shaun of the Dead. In Shaun, this moment initially flashes by without any notice and it takes multiple viewings and hours of scrolling through Internet fan dissections before the true genius of the dialogue becomes realised. When the same beat is repeated in The World’s End you immediately see how the gag will be played out across the course of the film and the fact that it’s now so easy to spot is a disappointment.

Another issue with the film is one that appears to be a general decline across the three films of the trilogy, the pastiche style becoming a less immediate aspect of the story and the removal of this leaves the narrative feeling less coherent and at times feeling painfully convoluted. With Shaun clearly a send up of zombie horror and Hot Fuzz for the most part playing with the American action cop thriller genre, The World’s End takes on a social sci-fi apocalyptic theme that is not nearly as precise in its idea of what it is trying to show and hence falls flat in terms of amusing references to other films that are a staple of the rest of the trilogy. Aside from the returning fence gag, if you have seen the previous instalments, the visual gags in this film don’t bring the same level of child-like glee as before because they don’t throw back to nostalgic memories of genre classics.

The World’s End is still a good time for fans of the rest of the trilogy, though I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone say that it is the best of the three. Good fun if a little disappointing.

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