The World’s End Review
by Daniel Rester
The World’s End may just be the comedy event of the year. Seriously, this film is a blast from start to finish. It comes from the team behind Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), following those films and becoming the capper in the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy (each of the three films features a flavor of Cornetto ice-cream). Joining co-writer/director Edgar Wright, producer Nira Park, co-writer/star Simon Pegg, and co-star Nick Frost this time around are actors such as Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, and even Pierce Brosnan.
End has the team matching Dead and Fuzz with its play on the theme of friends coming up against an apocalyptic-like scenario. And there isn’t a dearth of the expected fence jumpings (and other great in-jokes), slight social commentary, and highly original comedic touches. It serves up plenty of this entertainment, and more, for both fans and newcomers.
This entry begins with Gary King (Pegg), an alcoholic sybarite, tracking down his estranged friends in an attempt to persuade them to complete the Golden Mile. The Mile is a twelve-bar pub crawl (they have to have a pint at each pub) that takes place in their hometown of Newton Haven, culminating in a final drink at the pub called The World’s End.
After convincing the reluctant Peter (Marsan), Oliver (Freeman), Steven (Considine), and Andrew (Frost) to go with him, Gary sets out to complete this pub crawl that he failed to finish years before. Soon after arriving in Newton Haven, however, the boys begin to realize that something mysterious has happened to their hometown: it has been taken over by strange, robot-like beings.
End succeeds on many levels with its writing, and not just in a comedic sense. It actually applies quite a lot of focus to its science fiction, action, and dramatic elements, though it doesn’t skimp on the laughs. The filmmakers find just the right blend of all of the genres here and even dare to make the film a bit more mature than their previous efforts. Rather than taking the easy way out and just presenting Gary as a funny mess-up, End actually applies a lot of believable dramatic friction between the characters because of Gary’s choices. And Gary isn’t the only one given proper concentration, as every character has well-developed traits and shining moments. Along with the supremely sharp dialogue, it’s these elements that really make Wright and Pegg’s script so wonderful.
Wright has really started to prove himself as a terrific director over the years. Without forgetting about story or character, he applies some excellent filmmaking techniques in order to make things even livelier. From the seamless visual effects to the swift camera movements to the Danny Boyle-like editing methods to the fun soundtrack, Wright and his team never let the wild energy level go down. In order to compensate for the rapid (but fitting) pacing, Wright allows the story to play out for a while before jacking up the action scenes. He also allows small moments of foreshadowing to creep into the frame from time to time, which are almost like bonuses in showing his attention to detail (check out those billboard posters early on).
The whole cast matches Wright’s kinetic style as well. Pegg is a standout and is comedic dynamite as Gary. The actor really lets loose some laugh-out-loud-worthy moments, but he also applies some shades to the character and a presents a satisfying amount of pathos. Frost also does very well as Andrew, who is more of a reserved character at first (and a non-drinker) but eventually comes out of his shell. Freeman, Marsan, and Considine’s performances also help to balance things out; the actors are clearly having fun, and they equally stand next to Pegg and Frost in their commitment to the roles. Brosnan is pretty entertaining in a bit part, too, and Pike is lovely (though she shows the same facial expressions too often) as Sam, who is Oliver’s sister, Steven’s love interest, and Gary’s sexual interest.
Only in its final ten minutes does End somewhat stumble; the whole denouement just goes from smart to overblown and awkward. But the ending, and all of the alcohol in the world, isn’t enough to knock End down. The film is just hilarious and full of surprises, and definitely one of the more entertaining films to come out in 2013 so far.
Rating: 3 ½ out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: A-)