And with one final “Hurrah!” Edgar Wright’s Blood and Ice Cream (or Three Flavours Cornetto) Trilogy finally and sadly comes to a close. Be assured however; fans of both 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead” and 2007’s “Hot Fuzz” can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that “The World’s End” not only lives up to expectations, but succeeds in setting a new standard for any potential follow-up for the combination of Wright and lead-duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Early trailers for “The World’s End” likely left most viewers a bit skeptical upon seeing Pegg’s character, Gary King, for the first time. Please for a brief moment and only a brief moment, let us revisit our high school years. King was the high school burnout/dropout. He was the guy who would pat the back of a substitute teacher, only to leave behind a sign, reading, “PLEASE KICK ME.” He is despicable and quite revolting. Fast forward fifteen to twenty years or so. King is still the exact same man, if I could even call him a man, because he is in fact still a juvenile boy at heart and mind. He is the kind of guy who probably still hangs out in the high school parking lot and sees nothing wrong with that.
Enter our plot. “The World’s End” opens with King narrating the ultimate 12 pub, pub crawl, nicknamed “The Golden Mile.” This was a dangerous voyage that King and four other friends had attempted when they were but wee high school students. They had nearly completed the trek, when suddenly something went wrong, and the details are left a little fuzzy; after 11 pints, I could only imagine it so.
Fast forward many years later and King is getting the old band back together. It seems that everyone has moved on with their lives, pursuing careers, marriage, whatever it may be, King doesn’t have it. It is here where we meet the ol’ gang, including Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Peter (Eddie Marsan). After a bit of convincing and their return to Newton Haven to attempt the pub crawl, we are introduced briefly to Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike).
Everything leading up to the eventual discovery that there is indeed something awry in old Newtown Haven is very fun. The cast takes the script to its limit and continues to push it. This is a fantastic group of actors together, and at many times we feel as if they all had actually truly grown up with one another. From the drive in King’s ancient car, to conversations in The First Post (Bar #1 on the Golden Mile) “The World’s End” is quite a bit of fun.
I wish I could expound more on the events in the second half of the film, but it’s so much more fun to experience it yourself. I’ve kept this review solely to the first half, and to the overall message of the movie.
Director Edgar Wright uses snap zooms and close-ups like a veteran. Fast cuts have been a staple of the Cornetto Trilogy, and if you are at all familiar with the other two before mentioned films, then jumping over garden fences should be yet another throwback you will enjoy. Have no fear though. While Wright is not afraid to revisit his past work, “The World’s End” is filled with new and original comedic ideas. Almost everything seems to work well here.
Wright has developed a wonderful science fiction story for us here, reminiscent of a classic sci-fi like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” albeit, much more of a spoof than anything else. He takes time to poke fun at many of today’s science fiction movies that perhaps take themselves a pint too seriously (if I may use such an expression). *SPOILER* Wright also takes the chance to have a little fun with the post-apocalyptic genre as well, which has become quite popular with science fiction these days. *SPOILER*
There are many visual treats throughout “The World’s End” including: wall or street signs behind our characters that are written to cleverly juxtapose whatever the character is saying, plenty of explosions, and positively fantastic fight choreography that would make Jackie Chan proud.
The overall message here is friendship, and while you’re trying to rekindle and hold fast to it, try to have yourself a little fun too. This is a movie where there is plenty of room for the ridiculous and absurd, but only because it works so well. The more impossible the situation, the better and more unrealistic and unlikely the solution will be to fix it. This is the close to the Cornetto, and this is “The World’s End.”