Monday, 22 July 2013

The World's End

In 1990, Gary and his group of friends Peter, Steven, Oliver and Andrew attempted the Golden Mile, a 12-pub crawl around their home town of Newton Haven, but failed to reach the last three pubs. In 2013, Gary attempts to reunite the group for another attempt at the Golden Mile. However, Gary's friends have all grown up and moved on, getting real jobs and making families. They've all grown up, with the exception of Gary, who's still as untrustworthy and impulsive as ever, drives the same car from 1990, and now comes with a myriad of addiction problems as well. The friends reluctantly undertake the crawl as they take pity on Gary, but as the night goes on, they realise something isn't quite right in Newton Haven any more...

Everyone has their favourite trilogy. Most would say Star Wars (the original trilogy), some might say Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, maybe even Iron Man if they haven't watched many other films. Personally, my favourite trilogy, or at least the first two-thirds of it, was the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, or the Cornetto trilogy, depending on what you call it. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's writing, Edgar Wright's direction and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's performances had so far made for two exceptional British films: Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). Films that everyone has a copy of, films that everyone can quote endlessly and films that everyone will watch whenever they're on TV. Finally, after a 6 year wait, double the wait between films 1 and 2, film number 3 comes out: The World's End. Will it be a case of Toy Story 3, or more a case of The Godfather Part III? Thankfully, this is more cowboys than Corleones.

Shaun of the Dead billed itself as the world's first "rom-zom-com", while Hot Fuzz was a good old fashioned buddy-cop film with a rural British setting. The World's End is a strange one to define, as there are plenty of social aspects it explores, whilst also mixing in a ton of sci-fi. Social sci-fi, perhaps then? Either way, it's a great character study as the other two films were, and mixes in a lot of laughs in an extraordinary situation the characters find themselves in. It's strange to see Nick Frost in such a straight-laced role, one that would usually be reserved for Pegg, while he pays the slacker role normally reserve for Frost. I think the reversal of roles plays well in the film's favour though, and changes the formula slightly but not dramatically and separates the film from being 'just another trilogy film'. It stands up, even if there aren't as many obvious laughs here as there were in Shaun or Fuzz.

A lot of this seems like a nostalgia trip for Wright and Pegg, from the characters to the soundtrack; never in the trilogy has it felt more like there were writing an extended, final episode of Spaced than it does here. They call upon all the things they grew up with and loved music wise and socially, much as they called upon their love of buddy-cop films with Hot Fuzz. There's also the running jokes within the trilogy that are carried on, partly for nostalgia, partly out of a sense of obligation to continue them. There's the use of a former James Bond actor, this time in Pierce Brosnan, the Bill Nighy cameo, the jumping over a fence joke, the Cornetto reference, they're all in there, though a couple miss the mark more often than not, as if they had no actual place in the screenplay for them and threw them in at random. That withstanding, the writing was generally top notch, aside from the ending, which I found to be lacklustre and unbefitting to the end of a film like this one, or even a trilogy like this one. The film looks great, all visual effects were top notch and the action sequences were great, especially impressive considering how many of them there are and how long they tend to go on for each time.

The performances were OK for the most part. Simon Pegg seemed to revel in playing a different role for once, and does really well as Gary. Nick Frost does well as the sober Andrew, but does better later on the film when he is allowed to revert to his standard character performance. Paddy Considine isn't as great as he was in Hot Fuzz, but it's a different role, perhaps one that doesn't quite suit him. Martin Freeman is great, because it's a Martin Freeman-type role, only smarmier and more uptight, meaning he's allowed to bring his A-game. Eddie Marsan is a revelation, however, playing a quieter role than usual but is able to shine through more than most of the other characters because of the writing for him. Rosamund Pike plays Rosamund Pike, so there you go.

Overall, it's unfortunate that this film will be always graded against Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, because on its own, it's a nice and funny film, but compared to the other two, it's just not as good. Maybe they should have gotten this film over and done with years ago when they were still riding high from the previous two's successes. It is funny, but only sometime in a laugh out loud belly laugh kind of way, mostly it's small chuckles or polite giggles. They go very heavy on character this time with a darker story line than what they'd previously dealt with, but it's refreshing to see them deal with it as well as they do and good for them for doing something different but still in the same vein. It's a very nice, if unspectacular, end to the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. Let's leave it at this though, shall we, boys?

Rating: ***1/2