Sunday, November 10, 2013

The World's End

movie review

The World's End ***1/2

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Director: Edgar Wright 
Tagline: Prepare to get annihilated

Whenever director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join forces, thoroughly entertaining madness is sure to ensue. This British team has now returned to wind up their so called Cornetto trilogy, a set of standalone comedic genre spoof movies, with the science fiction comedy The World's End, and the result is as amusing as you would expect.

In the same vein as the first two films in the trilogy - the zombie movie send-up Shaun of the Dead (2004) and the buddy-cop action spoof Hot Fuzz (2007) - the third flick also delivers drama, emotions, action, and their standard brand of cheeky humour along the way.

The movie begins as Gary King (Simon Pegg), a middle-aged layabout, resolves to track down his estranged friends - Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Peter (Eddie Marsan), and Oliver (Martin Freeman) - and complete the Golden Mile, an epic pub crawl through their hometown of Newton Haven that the group attempted (but did not complete) as teenagers over 20 years ago. Gary clearly hasn't been very successful at growing up, and the fact that his friends have moved on with their lives and settled down doesn't dampen his spirits. Before you know it, the reluctant crew has been coerced, one at a time, to join him for a quest to have a pint at each of the dozen bars on the course that concludes at The World's End, the last pub on the route.

As the five friends return to their hometown and set out to conquer the Golden Mile once again, old issues start to spill out, and resentments resurface; a few pubs later, the group are about to call it quits, when they realize that something peculiar is going on in the town. The film gains momentum as it takes a turn into science fiction when the quintet uncovers why Newton Haven has been transformed into an oddly sinister, Stepford-ish place.

Scripted by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, The World's End is a talky comedy with plenty of well-choreographed action that delivers both excitement and laughs, and a good soundtrack to boot. It goes without saying that the film is well cast and that the comedic talent of the main actors is a big asset for the movie. Pegg and Frost embrace the reversal of roles from their previous efforts; Frost now plays the responsible straight man, while Pegg play the obnoxious yet strangely charming Gary, who despite his self-centred and childish antics exudes enough charisma to take his weary friends as well as the audience along for the ride.

The film is well constructed and generally very sharp in its social satire. Offering a take on friendship, arrested development, addiction, disappointment, living in the past, and modern life, The World's End comes with a layer of sadness just underneath its often zany surface if you take a moment to think about it; but Wright doesn't often give you that chance, hurling the viewer into the chaotic mayhem as the comedy riots on. However, the proceedings could have been more even. Perhaps 12 pubs might have been a few too many for the cinematic crawl, and the film does not have a sustained level of energy throughout. And enjoying some of its choices and its sometimes subtle humour might just come down to personal preferences; for instance, while I wasn't thoroughly satisfied with the ending, I'm sure many viewers will be.

On the whole, The World's End is an amusing conclusion to an impressive trilogy that embraces its very English humour and revels in its Britishness. It's variously smart and silly, and propelled by a very talented cast. If you've seen Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, then you already know what to expect. And if you enjoyed those two films, then there's a very high chance you will enjoy this one too.

- Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 10th November, 2013 *

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