0341 | The World’s End

The-Worlds-End-Nick-FrostThe third and final part of Edgar Wright’s ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ is a science fiction action comedy romp based around a pub crawl, which occasionally brings to mind classic British sci-fi TV like The Quatermass Experiment and The Day Of The Triffids as well as more widely-known American big screen fayre (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, most obviously). As with the earlier installments Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the former once again co-authoring the script with long-term writing partner Wright. They repeat the trick of staging a typically-American genre picture in the unlikely environs of a mundane southern English town and, as per the two earlier films, drinking establishments feature heavily. Here, dotted around the town centre of fictional London satellite Newton Haven, they serve as backdrops for increasingly-crazy fight sequences and are filled with an assortment of oddballs. (If you ever want to visit the featured boozers then you’ll need to look up Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City, and some may even be able to guarantee fights and oddballs.)

The hostelries of Newton Haven make up ‘The Golden Mile’, a legendary crawl that Gary King (Pegg) and his four friends (Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan) tried and failed to complete in their teenage years. It seems at first that King hasn’t grown up in the interim and now sees those days as the best of his life; the others have moved on, but are persuaded to return home and to give the 12-pint ordeal another go to appease their old classmate. However things have changed: the nondescript market town the friends left twenty years earlier was the kind of place where nothing out of the ordinary happened, but they return to a very different Newton Haven (and not just in terms of the sudden influx of interchangeable chain pubs, either).

Pegg, Frost and Wright have worked extremely well together since Spaced, one of the finest comedy TV shows ever made, though a repertory cast has gradually formed around them; Spaced fans will enjoy the appearances of Julia Deakin, Mark Heap and Michael Smiley in The World’s End, while actors such as Freeman, Considine, Bill Nighy, Steve Oram, Rafe Spall and Reece Sheersmith can now be considered Wright regulars, cementing the notion of a loose trilogy as much as the genre spoofing, the Cornetto references or the fence-jumping scenes. They are joined here by Rosamund Pike and her former Die Another Day co-star Pierce Brosnan, both of whom adapt to the mix of comedy and action with ease.

Wright’s directing style hasn’t changed all that much since his TV days, but that has at least resulted in a consistent look across the three films, and I dare say the experience he has built up will tell in future years. His calling card remains those sudden whizz-bang mini-montages (here it’s the The-Worlds-End-Nick-Frost-Simon-Pegg-Paddy-Considinerepeated pulling of pints as the action moves from one pub to the next) and it’s pleasing that so many of the jokes come from the editing and camerawork he has clearly directed, rather than the usual comedy model of relying on a star to deliver the laughs. The humorous cast performances are certainly of a piece with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz too: a crowd-pleasing mix of slapstick, gags, gurning and straight-faced genre nods that have presumably been inserted for movie geeks (in the climactic speech here Pegg’s King recites famous lines from Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels – though they may be more familiar as the sample kicking off Primal Scream’s hit Loaded – while keen-eyed horror fans will spot references to the likes of George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci).

Once more Wright and co take their action sequences semi-seriously, and although The World’s End plays as a straightforward comedy for quite a while (even largely refusing to go down the tried-and-tested route of suggesting that all is not well in Newton Haven), the arrival of a series of energetic pub fights feels as inevitable as the patching-up of the bromance between Pegg and Frost’s characters. The cast and crew presumably had fun filming the action, but unfortunately the second half of the film is too repetitive as a result, and it’s dispiriting when you realise that the already-paralytic characters still have three or four pubs to visit. Still, some unexpected touches have been inserted to hold the viewer’s interest: the weird post-apocalyptic epilogue was a surprise, and the same could be said for the sudden serious detour showing King’s bandaged wrists, but it’s the lighter, throwaway moments – when Rosamund Pike’s Sam arrives to speed the group away from an impending explosion, for example, she apologises for the mess in her car – that see the film over the finish line. On balance it’s the weakest part of Pegg and Wright’s trilogy, but it’s still entertaining.

Directed by: Edgar Wright.
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg.
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan.
Cinematography: Bill Pope.
Editing: Paul Machliss.
Music: Steven Price, Various.
Certificate: 15.
Running Time: 108 minutes.
Year: 2013.

Comments 19

    • Stu August 11, 2015

      Thanks Wendell – it’s possibly the director’s style / cast becoming so familiar after three movies, so I’m keen to see what Wright in particular comes up with next. Shame about Ant-Man really, though that turned out OK nonetheless.

  1. Todd Benefiel August 11, 2015

    I had fun with this one…not as much fun as ‘Shaun of the Dead’, but more fun than I had with ‘Hot Fuzz’. I liked the sci-fi / gore aspect, too, which I did NOT expect when I sat down to watch it last year.

    And now, it’s time to get back on track and return to being a devoted follower, and read your reviews every day like I should be doing. Beginning today, it begins.

    • Stu August 11, 2015

      I liked Hot Fuzz a little more than this but we’re talking miniscule amounts that are not easily visible by the human eye. The sci-fi / gore stuff was pretty cool; they obviously know their stuff!
      Welcome back into the fold, Todd!

  2. Tom August 11, 2015

    I loved this film so much. I think all three of these films do things better than the others. This one stylizes alcoholism so much. I can get on board with that, seeing as I can never put down the bottle myself.

    • Stu August 11, 2015

      I think it really captures pub culture well (in fact all three films do, particularly in the way they send up the mundanities of going to the pub with friends or the occasionally creepy stares you get from locals). Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Writer Loves Movies August 11, 2015

    I’ve noticed this one’s appeared on Netflix recently so I’ve added it to the queue, but I’m not in too much of a rush to see it. Have to say the trailer didn’t grab me as much as Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. Your review seems to confirm that. Sorry I’ve been away from your site for so long Stu – been struggling to find time for blogging over the last few weeks – but I’m looking forward to catching up!

    • Stu August 12, 2015

      Hi Natalie – no problem at all, and hope all is well! I noticed your own site had gone a little quiet of late after Docfest. I’d been meaning to watch this for a couple of years but it was the appearance on Netflix that persuaded me too. I enjoyed it but definitely preferred the other two.

    • Stu August 12, 2015

      Having already typed the comment I’ve just seen your site wasn’t actually that quiet. Sorry! I missed your review of Song Of The Sea (I’m still meaning to watch that but there’s so much out there at the moment it’s difficult/impossible to get to everything).

  4. ruth August 11, 2015

    Yeah I think this one is indeed the weakest of ‘Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy’ I just didn’t laugh as much as I had hoped. I actually just rewatched parts of Hot Fuzz last night and boy that was hilarious, it’s my fave of the three by far.

    • Stu August 12, 2015

      I should probably watch that one again sometime as my wife has never seen it and she enjoyed both Shaun and The World’s End. I love the fact the Neighbourhood Watch Association in Hot Fuzz are called “NWA”. That still makes me laugh now.

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