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Film Review: The World’s End

Three Flavours Cornetto: Greenthe_worlds_end_movie-wide

In Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg’s tough London cop Nicholas Angel moves to a small English town and is overwhelmed with boredom as he realises how little crime there is for him to fight. He decides to intimidate some local teenagers, minding their own business as they sit in the local pub, by telling them he will arrest them unless they leave. In The World’s End, it is the quiet teenagers in the pub that are intimidating Pegg, as they are in fact aliens filled with blue liquid who enjoy pushing people heads against walls. If you have never seen either of the previous Three Flavours Cornetto films, Shaun of the Dead and the aforementioned Fuzz, you will find it very hard to enjoy the, in all honesty, insane structure, monologues and eccentric supporting characters that Wright likes to litter his work with. (His upcoming Marvel film, Ant-Man, will be an interesting watch). Both Wright and his regular writing and acting collaborators Pegg and Nick Frost set up their filmmaking style so well in Shaun that, for better or worse, fans of the trio have gotten very used to seeing it all play out on screen. In Hot Fuzz, my favourite film of the three, it was for better, as the audience laughed at call-backs to Cornettos and garden fences, but in World’s End, it ends up as more of a “not that again” scenario.

The World’s End focuses on Pegg’s Gary King, a 40-year old man-child who dresses exactly as he did in his teens (as we see in a flashback opening) and is desperate to recreate the joy of an attempted 12-pub crawl him and his four friends went on 2-odd years earlier. He reunites those friends (Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan) and, reluctantly, they join him on the quest to complete the crawl. Hence, the first half of the film involves lots of drinking, lots of 80s references and, thankfully, some very clever sight-gags. Wright, Pegg and Frost’s screenplays, even when not insanely hilarious, are a joy to behold, and as you watch the film you can’t help but imagine the trio working away ingeniously on one of the most tightly and impressively constructed comic scripts of the past 5 years. The plot structure is one of the film’s strongest features, as the alien antics begin exactly halfway through- earlier enough for the ‘twist’ to be spoilt in the media, but late enough for there to still be a large portion of the film absent of fighting and CGI. Pegg makes the hilariously unlikeable King a watchable presence, while Frost is terribly underused prior to the final act. Considine and Freeman are filler characters, but it is the always-wonderful Marsan who is the film’s shining comedy star. He conveys a uniquely brilliant mixture of suburban Dad and sleazy youth in his character, and will hopefully receive many similar roles over the coming years.  Rosamund Pike is one of the most tokenish female characters in recent cinema, purely there because they needed a woman, but thankfully not exploited for sexual humour very much.

The alien storyline is nothing too special- the most unoriginal of the trilogy’s action-plots by a mile- but the final confrontation with the race is quite funny and a pleasing ending to an hour of shouting and chair-whacking. The ending of this film is almost as unexpected as the ending of this Summer’s not-too-dissimilar This is the End, and justifies the drawn-out penultimate act. To the relief of many viewers, there is one scene which deals with alcoholism as a serious issue, and proves that Wright is not making a love-letter to beer and ale. In the (world’s) end, The World’s End is not the wonderful surprise or the fantastic follow-up that it’s predecessors were, but retains the same charisma and screenplay-writing genius the creators have always had. It deserves to be seen.

Grade: ✩✩✩✩

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Lucien writes on film, television and politics at LuwdMedia.com and co-hosts the podcasts Above All Else and The 99%.

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