How many horror-sci-fi movies has it been that has the set up “childhood friends has incomplete business, and now that they are older they intend to finish it”? Too many. Last one I saw off the top of my head was “It” and “Dreamcatcher”, but really there are just too many to keep track of. Well, director Edgar Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg has come out with a new twist to this age-old premise with their latest British film “The World’s End”. Along with Simon Pegg, Wright may be more famous for “Shaun of the Dead” to horror-comedy fans, but recently he directed “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” which proved to be one of the better genre-busting comic book adaptations ever produced in 2010. “The World’s End” is just as good as I hoped for, maybe even better.
20 years ago, a group of friends had attempted to do a pub-hopping crawl that they came up just a little short. Gary King (Simon Pegg) is now twenty years older, and yet he is none the wiser. He now has no friends and save for that memorable night, his life appears to have no meaning. Now in an effort to recapture the past, he convinces his old friends Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) to return to their hometown and make one last run to complete this pub crawl up to the World’s End (the name of the last pub). Reluctantly, they join Gary to reach a sense of closure, but little do they know that they are about to embark on a drunken journey that takes them close to the possible end of humanity’s existence.
For some reason, this film did remind me of the recent apocalyptic comedy “This is the End”, but as soon as I get into the film’s first act, it became clear that this was a superior film. The direction and the writing clearly knew what they wanted to do, and they carried out everything consequently. The screenplay took its time to give us a glimpse of just who are characters are, and what they were before. We learn what made them go on their separate ways and just how close they were in their younger days. Wright and Pegg’s writing were able to create a certain dynamic and this is where the film manages to find its footing. The characters weren’t that strong or original, but they did feel authentic and really, one would be able to easily relate to them. The laughs they generated flowed with an ease that was necessary to drive the film’s momentum. The direction was also able to create a blend of slapstick, dry humor and drunk jokes, but unlike most comedies that seem to rely on raunchy humor to push it forward, the transitions between the jokes felt natural. One thing that the film did well was its ability to sustain the laughs and the laughs did not become repetitive.
As with most comedies, the film is not all about creating laughter. The film does have a dramatic aspect to it all. Wright was able to create a balance between the drama and the laughs, and he put the Gary King character in the center of it all. I suppose the film’s main theme would be about friendship, the catching up to the past and the ‘one that got away’, but what the writing did so well was the ability to expand on its premise about forgotten lost youth and its horror-sci-fi premise. Oh yeah, this film was all about ‘drinking and having a good time’, but it never forgot that this was also a film about an apocalypse. Kudos to the screen writers that they were able to drive the characters to develop its central theme, and this was a sci-fi horror comedy at its core. Wright never forgot to make the viewer feel the emotions within each character while they generate the laughs. “The World’s End” is a British comedy that excites and delivers the goods.
The sci-fi horror aspects really doesn’t take central stage, but its devices were all over the film. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” would easily come to mind as well as something that resembled an attempt on ‘order’ in the universe. The film is pretty violent and the fights carried a lot of tension. I am not sure, but minor CGI was used to complement the use of practical effects. The alien robots that the group have come to call ‘blue bloods’ were rendered with a kind of B-movie charm that worked. With lager in hand, the film becomes a chase film, as Gary and his friends come face to face with the consequences to the human race. The film is incredibly entertaining, it never loses a beat, and it delivers everything possible with its plot. Careful not to overdo, and yet it never misses a spot.
Now, for a sci-fi apocalyptic film, the film had to sport some pretty good visuals, and Wright as mentioned earlier exuded a B-movie charm that is touched with a more modern feel. The shots and the editing had the right atmosphere (dark and a little gloomy) to create that ‘feeling of the apocalypse’ in its more exciting parts and yet once the pub scenes come into play, the film becomes more colorful and lively. This decision made the film carry a lot more visual punch and added to the delivery of its emotions and laughs. I was also pretty impressed with the film’s soundtrack. Tracks by British groups such as Primal Scream, James, Charlatans, Kylie (and Lord knows what else) gave me a feeling of nostalgia and gave it more flavor. The audio and sound design were also pretty clever as with the impact of the robot fights and communications sound. It did have one error in its production design and I laughed how it could’ve been missed in the finale. (maybe it was intentional?)
Simon Pegg was clearly the most vibrant character in the film, and he is actually the one who generated a lot of laughter. Nick Frost comes in as a close second even though he was the more even-tempered of the bunch. It was a nice touch to have Frost play his character as a ‘sleeper’, always subtle with the laughs until it reaches the final act. The rest of the cast was just as effective, with Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike lending significant supporting roles. The cast and direction really worked well to create a comedic experience that is genuinely funny.
“The World’s End” is the third entry in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” along with “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. I do have to admit that my expectations were a little elevated, and fortunately, the film did not disappoint. It feels very natural and genuine, it created a balance of comedy and hilarity along with its dramatic aspects. What it did so well was the fact that it developed everything in its apocalyptic aspects and expanded the story by driving its character dynamic. The film is fun and hilarious that British comedy fans will toast to it. Cheers!! Recommended. [4 Out of 5 Stars]
By Joan Alperin Schwartz We're all familiar with the quote, 'You can never go home again' . Well, that's not exactly true...You can go home again, but it may not be the way you remembered it. That is certainly the case in 'The World's … more