The World’s End has been released in the UK a full month before North America, so here’s a review from our UK office to get you suitably excited!
You know that time in your life when you just left school? Do you remember when alcohol was something to be celebrated and experimented with, as were sex, drugs and music? It felt like you could do anything, right? Well Gary King can remember that time all too well, and while the rest of his friends may have moved on to have jobs, wives and families, he finds himself striving for those halcyon days. And so he decides to get his gang back together to undertake a legendary pub crawl in their childhood town. 12 pubs. 12 pints. What could possibly go wrong?
Each of the films in Edgar Wright’s Blood And Ice Cream trilogy has been a success in part due to the fact that they manage to be a love letter to a particular genre, framed in a unique way. Shaun Of The Dead was more romantic than most romcoms, but set against a background of zombie apocalypse. Hot Fuzz managed to squeeze a ludicrous amount of buddy cop action into a tiny sleepy Somerset village. With The World’s End, Wright and co have tried their hand at science fiction. You know, on a pub crawl. Details are best left scarce, but this is safe to say the most action the Spaced cast have ever had to endure. Edgar Wright’s direction fizzes and crackles as much as it ever has, and the fight scenes (of which there are plenty) are imaginative, well shot and wouldn’t look out of place in a Hong Kong martial arts flick. Those who are worried about Ant Man needn’t be. Edgar Wright can make Nick Frost look like a ninja. Think about that for a second. Now stop worrying.
The supporting cast are brilliant, albeit underemployed, particularly Nick Frost (playing the straight(edge) man for once) and Paddy Considine, who could turn in a decent performance reading a phone book. All are given just enough to do to make sure they aren’t completely swamped by Simon Pegg’s tour de force as Gary King. Dressed in goth garb, cigarette constantly hanging from his lips and truly terrible dye job in tow, Pegg really does the heavy lifting for the first third of the film, and while he manages this with aplomb, the character of Gary King is written a little too well. He’s a manipulative, reckless, rude douchebag. The sort of guy who ruins everything he touches, but is never wrong. Where Shaun was the everyman, Gary is every prick you’ve ever had to deal with. Fortunately we don’t have to endure too much before the plot kicks in, and from thereon in the film hurtles at a real lick, lurching drunkenly from one scene to the next, much like a drunken pub crawl feels. The soundtrack is FANTASTIC, although that rather depends on how you get on with early 90’s indie music… If you’re a fan, you’ll love it. If not…then not so much.
All that being said, this is not the denouement that anyone would have expected from the talent involved. While funny (and it is really funny) it manages to be a fairly complicated affair, and because Simon Pegg’s character is so loathsome, it doesn’t warm until deep into the third reel. By that time there isn’t much time or opportunity to make amends, due to a spectacular finale which shows you don’t need a bucketload of dollars to film the apocalypse, just a bucketload of talent.