Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The World's End Review

Both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are near-perfect films. They're films made for and by film fans. The reference are brilliant, they're hilarious, they're typically British, they're technically impressive and they have great British casts. How's that for pressure for The World's End then?

So, does The World's End hold up compared to the two? To put it bluntly, no it doesn't. Is it a good film? Yes - just about. 

The story has a promising concept. I quite liked the idea of a pub crawl with old friends. Especially when the friends are Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman. However, the pub crawl idea simply doesn't work when meshed with the sci-fi invasion.  After the 'robots' are revealed there becomes no reason for them to continue drinking. You can throw up a flimsy explanation that they continue so as not to arouse suspicion, but it doesn't wash. Put simply: once there are robots around, you do not care if they get to The World's End. It's just a bit wooly and weak. It's a shame. 

The first half of the film injects the most one liners and comedy output with the old gang rejoining and their return to the town, while the second is more action orientated when they go head to head with the invaders. The beings glowing eyes are reminiscent of Demons while the set up feels like Invasion of the Body Snatcher only with a twist and the closing confrontation plays out like an episode of Star Trek/Doctor Who followed by an outlandish flash-forward. It's all a bit uneven and messy. Also,  my problem is that the homages are way too niche. Everyone knows Romero. Everyone knows Point Break, Bad Boys and 80's action films - but in The World's End it seems a little too out there. 

However, Edgar Wright once again shows that he's at the top of his game, the action scenes are wonderfully executed and the effects are superb. The soundtrack oozes nostalgia and accompanying music score is fitting. The indie 90's playlist is awesome and it gives us an insight into Pegg, Frost and Wright's interests. 

I think the cast are excellent. Pegg as washed up excitable alcoholic/drug intoxicated Gary King plays against the usual nice guy, here he's a man you love to hate, you really want him to succeed. It's refreshing to see both of them do something different. The supporting cast are excellent including Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman. Piers Brosnan, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan. It makes me proud to be British that we have this much talent on offer in one film. 

The World's End is the strongest film, thematically, in the Cornetto Trilogy. It's about adulthood vs adolescence, regret, friendship and above all the state of modern society. It does not nod nearly as much towards or satirise genre like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. No, instead the nods and satire are mostly out and the themes are in.

This is half-welcome, half-disappointing for the final film of the trilogy. On one hand, since the other two satirise film genres it is odd the this doesn't and honestly, a bit disappointing. This is much more of it's own beast but, for a Pegg, Wright and Frost film, it does feel far too much of an unexplored area. On the other hand, the concerns of the central plot and the thematic content give the film the strength to round off the trilogy in a fitting and appropriate way.

Furthermore, The World's End contains many of the little recurring elements from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz which show such loving attention to detail and continuity: the Cornettos, the Wright short-shot montages, the fantastic soundtrack, the amazing use of the word 'C**t', the noise of the pub fruit machine, and many other little details that have made appearances in the previous two films are here.

Not only are these recurring details present but so too are some of Wright, Pegg and Frost's collaborators with their own fantastic cameos. I won't give any away specifically but there are actors from previous films in the trilogy and beyond (stretching back to Spaced, here) making appearances and it's actually rather heart-warming. Evidently, roots have not been forgotten.

If this didn't follow Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is would have been better, but ultimately, the pressure and the expectation have let this down.