09th Jul2013

‘The World’s End’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike | Written by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg | Directed by Edgar Wright

The-Worlds-End-Cast

When was the last time you went to the cinema and properly and frequently belly-laughed your way through a film? Having sat through the relatively mirthless Hangover Part III, This is the End and Despicable Me 2 recently, I was thoroughly relieved to have the pleasure of watching Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s latest effort, the completely hilarious The World’s End.

It’s the story of Gary King (Pegg), a middle-aged goth who’s never grown up. After being provoked at an AA meeting (sound tracked brilliantly to Primal Scream’s Loaded), King decides to gather his old school friends together to finish off a pub crawl they began in 1990. The rest of the group, played by Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman, have got proper jobs, wives, kids and mortgages and take a certain amount of cajoling to join King on his quest, none more so than Frost’s Andrew Knightley whose relationship with him has deteriorated due to major unresolved issues. As the crawl progresses, old rivalries and past glories are brought up and the group begin to re-evaluate their relationships.

Oh, and then they encounter an otherworldly threat that could spell the end for humanity as we know it.

It’s a mark of how much I was enjoying the film and was involved in its plot and characters that I had completely forgotten to expect a twist in the tale pretty much until it happened. Amongst the gales of laughter for the audience and enforced bonhomie of the characters, there’s no small amount pathos on display. As someone who grew up in a small town, I recognised the sense of ennui felt by King’s friends as they return to the scene of their teenage exploits. The film explores the disconnection between a place that never seems to change and the people who have – or in King’s case, have not. It should be noted that Pegg, not playing the straight man role for a change, is really, really great in the film, eating up the scenery and wholly embodying a would-be larger than life character that compensates for his quiet and cloying sense of desperation with boorish behaviour.

It also boasts no small amount of kick-arse action sequences and the most beautifully choreographed and shot fight scene since The Raid. The gang’s first encounter with the sci-fi threat happens in a gents’ toilet and is definitely one of the best brawl scenes I’ve ever seen, designed to look like one long shot and displaying some brutal pugilistic action.

Recently, I reviewed This is End, which I derided for being a matey, indulgent non-comedy with a paucity of roles for women. You could draw comparisons between the two films. Whilst they’re obviously thematically similar, The World’s End has also clearly been made by a bunch of friends doing exactly what they feel like doing and although Rosamund Pike gets a bit to do, she is awkwardly shuffled offstage towards the end of the second act. The difference between the two is that The World’s End has heart, intelligence, creativity in its production (the familiar Wright tics are present and correct, down to an exaggerated ‘swish’ sound effect as a barman tosses a towel over his shoulder) and, most importantly of all, really big laughs.

As a conclusion to the so-called ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy, The World’s End proves to be at least the equal of both the excellent Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It may even be better than both of them, making brilliant use of its great cast, pairing great writing with great delivery and striking visual flair with an unbeatable 1987-1992 pop soundtrack. It’s easily the best film I’ve seen this year so far and is probably going to be a favourite for years to come.

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