Plot: A group of old school friends, lead by hasn’t-changed-one-bit-in-20-years Gary King, embark on a 12-pint pub crawl in a town that isn’t right.
Cast/Crew: Directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg & Nick Frost, as two best friends who fell out, and the rest of the group – Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike.
• This film makes up the third entry in the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, following on from Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which were excellent and very, very good, respectively (a lot of you guys liked Hot Fuzz better!).
• The World’s End (not to be confused with Pirates of the Caribbean ‘At World’s End’ or Seth Rogan’s “This is the End” – which was changed from the original ‘The End of the World’ as Pegg told Rogan of the film he was making!) follows the perpetually energetic and positive Gary King, dragging his boring old mates on a pub crawl that only he’s interested in. This feels like an awkward old friend reunion, as each has grown up and had quite different lives since, with varying degrees of personal and financial success. This contrasts starkly with the leader of the former group of friends, Gary King (Pegg) who is still a fuck-up/layabout, still living in the past, lightning quick to recall events from 20 years ago, and still drives the same car with the same tapes given to him.
• It’s a fun premise (especially a pub crawl as a premise of a comedy) but the gaping problem with enjoying this film is that Pegg’s character isn’t likable. We see him through his mates’ eyes, cringing at him for never having moved on. Although his friends warm to him by the end, I didn’t do the same 180. Another 360 brother!
• When King’s initially forced to confront his failure to grow, it’s side-tracked by a “pod people” storyline where inhabitants and being replaced by “blanks” aka robots; his problems are now secondary to a sci-fi storyline.
• Lots of humorous, well-choreographed violence with blue bloodshed (blueshed?), so the violence is trivial e.g. the first instance is a mannequin-like head pops off a blue blood spurts out.
• There’s a bit of social commentary about gentrification, or “starbucked” as the friends return to their home town to see many of the pubs are gutted and transformed into a bland chain of pubs. Similarly the locals are now “blanks” who are content to be quiet and boring. This is the perfect antithesis to Pegg’s character, and for delaying his character growth.
• Character arc-wise, the thrust of the film is very fitting for Wright’s three films – Shaun was about getting a job and taking responsibility. Fuzz was about easing up on your hard-working job and enjoying yourself. End deals with growing old & growing up. Thematically it makes perfect sense but practically, it makes for a more sobering, less engaging third entry.
• We get the action set-pieces with the great trademark pub-fight choreography, as well as the imaginative quick visual splicing that Wright/Pegg’s films are known for. Since the overall tone (‘look at Pegg who still thinks he’s 15’) is more mature/less funny, these bits don’t hit as well as they should, feeling like more references to prior films, like the mint cornetto wrapper that flies past (as opposed to the lads having a scene eating cornettos in the last 2).
• Special mention for the soundtrack being suitably ’90s (fitting in with the guys’ youth) which is absolutely brilliant. Included the Charlatans at the bottom!
• Before it reaches the figurative and literal world’s end (pub) I’m sad to say the movie loses steam as a run-of-the-mill sci-fi yarn. It’s not high-concept sci-fi, more a 50s black & white film homage, complete with giant robot straight out of The Day The Earth Stood Still. There’s far too much time spent on this frame storyline instead of endearing the characters or cracking jokes. That said, Wright described the film as ‘social science fiction’ – the film isn’t trying to be as funny as the other two. Much like the theme of the story, it’s gotten older, and less funny, and is more into the sci-fi. There’s a lot of CG work, and a lot of screen time devoted to looking at the visual effects (the film cost $20 million as opposed to $12m for Hot Fuzz and $8m for Shaun). I thought it looked very well, but in general I just care about Pegg & Frost and not the dressing. The “there’s something not right with the townsfolk” feels a bit old hat, having seen it in the prior 2 films.
• Pegg & Frost’s relationship is the heart of the story, and this one has the best written arc of the trilogy, with Frost being angry and distant to Pegg because of a big incident that’s not revealed until much later. That said “we’re no longer friends” and deal with these issues isn’t half as much fun as seeing the two farting about being mates.
• Cast-wise, it’s always heart-warming to see tons of cross-over actors from the first two films, even the extras (e.g. the woman sitting next to Pegg in the opening group therapy session is ‘Mary’ from Shaun of the Dead. Martin Freeman is perfect as the bluetooth wearing real estate agent friend. Pegg trying to get with his sister immediately is quite funny, as is his final big speech as a hard-nosed belligerent human telling aliens to fuck off. That scene looks like it was the overall pitch to get the film greenlit. I definitely think this’ll be warmer received the older you yourself get, and better identify with the characters.
• Gary uses A FUCKING ROCK BOTTOM to incapacitate the first blank in the bathroom! Serious mark out moment. Small part but rock bottom (realising he’s a loser) is where Gary is in the film.
• The parking lots are all full of Vauxhall Amperas, to show how the village is now uniformly conforming. Also it’s an electric car which jives well with robots/blanks.
• The gang all have royal names (King, Page, Knight(ley), Chamberlain, Prince) and when Sam greets them, they all stand, except for King, who remains seated.
• King trying it on in the toilet with Sam, saying “you gave me the sign!” then soon afterwards, she literally gives him a sign, which reads “Out of order”.
• “What the fuck does “WTF” stand for?! (in the background) “What the fuck?!”
Overall: A more thoughtful, serious entry to cap off the trilogy. Sadly I found it decidedly average, not many jokes but just cringing at a 40+ year old guy who desperately wants to relive his youth. It’s like Back to the Future 3. Perhaps I’m just not on board with the message and thrust of the film. Just watch the excellent Shawn of the Dead or also great Hot Fuzz instead. Skippable.