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.
I’ll take a logical leap and assume that you’re familiar with the other films in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Three Flavours of Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). I understand that they achieved some minor measure of popularity. By this point, we go in expecting wit, intelligence and heartfelt humor along with the mint chocolate chip alien goodness.
Synopsis: We all know a guy like Gary King. He was adored in high school because he partied like nobody’s business. Now that we’re older, we can’t stand him because he’s exactly the same. But he’s desperate and gathers the old boys together to finish the pub crawl that ended their childhood and he still lies good enough to get everyone on board. Cue 12 pubs, a minimum of 12 pints lined up and awaaaay we go. All the way to The World’s End, the last pub on the golden mile.
Of course, with Pegg and Wright at the helm, nothing is going to go as planned. Drunkenness is expected and delivered. Alien robots weren’t on the menu, but they’re there. Taken over the whole town. And they want converts. Again, as we have come to expect from Pegg and Wright, that really isn’t what the story is about.
Instead, it’s a story about letting go of your youth. About the struggle to hold onto those days that were so grand for some of us. For an unfortunate few, more so than anything that followed. The World’s end is more about the alienation felt while growing older without really growing up. Watching everyone change around you and honestly feeling that they’ve gotten it all wrong and that you’ve somehow got to get back to those good old days.
These bastards aren’t particularly cheery with their comedies, are they?
But never fear, the jokes come and hit well. The sway back and forth between pathos and giggly fits tends to hit pretty far extremes, but I adored the ride. Similarly, the action is spot on. I’m sure you’ve heard that this here monster is chock full of kung-fu fisticuffs and that it is. There’s a scene everyone references regarding a spectacular bar fight and a determination to finish drinking the same beer that is just as awesome as everyone says it is. The same goes for watching Frost drop a back breaker and flying elbow drop on some poor blue blooded fool. Smiles were abundant, my friends.
With these films, the focus tends to fall on the dynamic duo of Pegg and Frost. As expected, their natural chemistry still shines through even when playing with a vastly different dynamic from the previous films. I appreciated that, this time, Nick played the mousy, angry one while Pegg took on the hard drinking, self absorbed and oblivious asshole role. It’s worth knowing that Pegg’s character, King, is an unapologetic dick, which threw me for a loop. However, he did a damn fine job making me both pity despise and pity him. Nice work, bucko.
However, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike also deserve due credit. They all carried that weird balancing act of portraying estranged friends whose main tie is the butthole that still binds them. I especially love the change in Freeman’s performance once a key portion comes in to play. Just restrained enough to show a minor difference without screaming it. I loved that.
Also, I appreciated the seamless, but relatively unobtrusive special effects. No one will come out wowed by how amazing the robots looked, but that was the point. This is a film about story, not FX, and the focus shows. At the same time, they are solid enough to keep you grounded in the fiction.
Many people will complain about the ending, which does seem a tad abrupt and silly for no good reason, and some apparent inconsistencies and bits that don’t seem to fit quite right. I’ve mentioned my theory regarding those here, but you shouldn’t read it until you’ve seen the movie. And you should see this movie. You’ll have a gas, I promise you that much.
Just beware of those bastards trying to take you from the island, Peter Pan.
The World’s End (2013) is now available on bluray per Universal Studios
The World’s End (2013)