Release Date: August 23, 2013
Director: Edgar Wright
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Having successfully satirized the zombie and action genres in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg now set their sights on the science fiction genre. Each film served as homage to their respective genres while poking fun at what fans love about them. The two films still hold up and are considered to be some of the funniest films to be released in the last decade. Now comes The World’s End. Billed as the concluding chapter in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” in reference to an ice cream brand that appears in each film, the new film takes on numerous sci-fi archetypes and falls surprisingly short of the mark.
Twenty years ago, five friends attempted to complete “The Golden Mile,” a twelve station pub crawl, in their hometown of Newton Haven. They did not complete the crawl missing The World’s End by three. In the present, everyone has moved away and have successful lives; all of them except Gary King, the leader of the pack. Despite being in his forties, Gary has never really grown up. On a whim he decides to get the band back together so they can finally finish what they started, conquer “The Golden Mile.” Albeit with some reservations, likely curiosity got the better of them, Andy, Oliver, Steven and Peter agree to come along for the ride.
The World’s End is a mixed bag. Not just in terms of content but in terms of quality as well. Unlike the films that came before it the new film is only sporadically funny at best. Hot Fuzz had me in stitches from beginning to end and it is still my favorite Edgar Wright film. As previously mentioned Pegg and Wright have set their sights on the science fiction genre. While some of the sci-fi elements are viewable in the trailer, extra-terrestrials have invaded Newton Haven, there is more to it then is revealed there so those details will be left to the viewer to discover.
Wright has brought together a great acting ensemble. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan are the grown up versions of the failed pub crawlers. Rosamund Pike also appears. There are other actors who make cameo appearances throughout. Pegg and Frost are, as expected, great together. They’re basically the Martin & Lewis of British comedy. The chemistry between the five is a highlight of the film. The banter and bickering that goes on is often funny, even during most of the science-fiction portion of the film, not guffaw inducing but still amusing. Unfortunately, after a time the characters, with the exception of Gary and Andy, their appeal began to wane as I started to lose interest.
The best parts of the film is when it focuses on the themes of growing up, going home, the strange alienating feeling of a place once familiar and accepting responsibility for one’s actions. Oddly enough I found the “real” parts of the story more engaging then the science-fiction aspect of it. If only they found a way to blend the two without being so generic. Without divulging plot details the sci-fi parts reminded me of other films that were simply much funnier. What worked so well in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead is surprisingly absent here. It is likely because while some recent films were essentially straight they still managed to satirize what has come before. Unfortunately discussing those films would reveal too much about this one.
Wright’s latest was a failed attempt to continue what has worked so well before. The concept just didn’t feel fresh and the ending in particular just felt drawn out and tacked on. You still get the usual Wright visual style and crazy-hyper fight scenes but even that appears to be showing its age. Like many great trilogies before it, there is usually one chapter that isn’t as good as the rest. In this case, The World’s End is that film.