It’s the summer of apocalyptic comedies! At least if the world is coming to an end, we’ll go out laughing about it. Ever since I first heard about The World’s End, I’ve been pretty excited to see it. It’s the third film bringing together Edgar Wright (director/writer), Simon Pegg (writer/co-star), and Nick Frost (co-star). The first two films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, both received rave reviews and are still among many viewers’ favorite comedies. Sadly, I can’t speak for Hot Fuzz (haven’t seen the whole thing), but I adore Shaun of the Dead—a film that’s great because a) it introduces us to the hilarious writing and clever filming style of the Wright-Pegg team, and b) it very well could be the best horror/comedy of all time.
Going into The World’s End, my expectations were already pretty high because I knew the kind of awesomeness Wright and co. can deliver, but I was also hoping for a film to rival This Is the End, another apocalyptic comedy and one of my favorite films of this summer. Is The World’s End everything I’d hoped? Overall, I would have to say yes. For me, it doesn’t quite beat out This Is the End, and it doesn’t seem as perfectly put together as Shaun of the Dead, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s extremely funny and undeniably cool.
Synopsis: “Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: If you aren’t familiar with Wright’s filming style, let me try to explain it to you: in The World’s End, he even makes pouring a glass of water funny. He has this wonderful talent of making mundane actions seem vastly important and exciting, only to remind you a second later that no, it really is just a guy pouring liquid into a cup. Scenes like these almost always draw laughs. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt the film that five fantastic comedic actors play the main characters. Pegg plays the outrageous, selfish, and vastly immature leader of the gang, Gary King, while Frost plays his much more grown-up, level-headed former best friend, Andy Knightley. The gang is rounded out by construction worker Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), car salesman Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), and real estate agent Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman). Did you notice the characters’ last names? Clever, no? These actors have a wonderful rapport, and to watch them chug down pint after pint in sync, gradually getting a little tipsier with each one—well, it’s just wonderful. The action is pretty great, too. Fights are cleverly choreographed and often very humorous. My particular favorite is a rampage started by Frost’s character. Amidst all the action and hilarity, there’s even a dramatic moment so surprising and sad that it hits you right in the gut. Basically, the film is very well-executed. Favorite scene: A few pubs in, the gang grabs a table and tries to figure out what to call the robots that aren’t exactly robots. The conversation gets sillier and sillier until it eventually becomes a brief lesson about pronouns. Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I died.
The Bad: I was 100% with this film almost the whole way through. Then, the last 15 minutes happened. The end isn’t terrible—just unexpected, taking on an entirely different tone from the rest of the film. It’s disappointing because that “humor in the ordinary” aspect that makes the beginning so great is completely abandoned for a big, sci-fi ending. It feels kind of like the film is selling out. Plus, I don’t know if I love what ends up happening to two main characters—one seems kind of lost and sad, the other doesn’t seem to have changed as much as I’d expected. None of these things are deal breakers, but I had hoped that The World’s End would be as brilliant from start to finish as Shaun of the Dead. Least favorite scene: At one point in the movie, some of the characters have a conversation with the robot/alien leader. It’s probably a short scene, but to me it dragged on too long. It’s a chat that kind of goes in a circle, and how it ends seems…too easy. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you’ve seen the film you probably understand what I mean.
To Sum It Up: Though this film isn’t the best of the Wright-Pegg trilogy, it’s still very good. Great characters, fun story, plenty of action, and so many hilarious moments. It might not end as brilliantly as I’d hoped, but everything else is awesome enough to make up for it.
My Grade: A-