Actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost re-team with director Edgar Wright to conclude their now cult-status Cornetto “trilogy” with The World’s End. This concluding piece of the blood and ice cream three-pack of films leans more on the science fiction side, with Wright’s trademark humor, quick-cuts and eye for directing with such superior confidence. The World’s End is easily the weakest of the three, but still a mighty achievement for the growing director that manages to go a little deeper with his characters and their flaws than Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) was the coolest lad in town back in the schoolyard days. He was the leader of the pack, which also consisted of Andrew (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Oliver (Martin Freeman). Now, they’ve all grown up and moved on and out of town, with Gary being the only exception to the growing up part. He’s stuck in a rut, constantly looking back on the good times and never really worrying too much about the present or what the future holds.
He’s incredibly depressed and lonely and the only thing that he wants to do is relive the glory days with his old pals. So, he pays visits to each of them and practically begs them to return to their small little hometown for a night that they’ll never forget. The goal is to hit up a list of epic pubs that they once tried to visit in one outing on a night back in their earlier years. They never quite made it to the last pub, but this time Gary plans on making it all the way in hopes of somehow closing an open chapter in his life and maybe finding a bit of direction for where to go next.
Edgar Wright‘s The World’s End is a fitting, yet off-putting conclusion to a loose trilogy of films dubbed the Cornetto trilogy or in some parts of the world the blood and ice cream saga. Wright has cleverly connected three films not just with using the same actors or poking fun at similar gags. No, he’s instead focused on similar underlying themes in all three films, only expanding on them in a much different fashion in each film.
Shaun of the Dead was mostly about growing up, where Hot Fuzz focused slightly more on moving on and moving forward. The World’s End leans more towards Shaun in terms of focusing more on one specific character having difficulties finding his purpose in life, but all three films are powerful examples of friendship.
Wright’s wisely chosen not to follow the exact same formula for The World’s End. The World’s End is drastically different than Shaun and Fuzz, while also remaining the same in tone. The World’s End is easily his darkest film yet, thanks to Simon Pegg delivering his most complicated performance yet. One that most shouldn’t like and only end up enjoying because of Pegg’s talents as both a dramatic and comedic performer. His humor comes from dark places, but is almost always met with at least one person smiling, despite his character’s endless moments of failure throughout his life.
Pegg transforms Gary King from the laughing stock of the gang to a person that needs his friends now more than ever. Watching Pegg dig deep down to bring up material to the surface that hints at darkness is great and seeing Wright manipulate that into the film in a way that is both sad and hilarious is one of the many reasons why people get this excited for each and every film that he makes.
Nick Frost and the rest of the gang deserve their credit too, because the general easy-flowing camaraderie between the entire crew makes the movie stick and feel genuine. Watching these men drink, get drunk and react to the entire wild night feels as real as can be and like something that would actually happen if these men spent a night out on the town together. Wright, Pegg, Frost and every single one of the main cast helps make the entire film feel very personal and authentic.
The World’s End is a bittersweet experience that will bring back nostalgic memories, while also providing enough closure for Wright, Pegg and Frost to close this particular chapter in their film careers and move onto bigger and hopefully better things.
Wright’s direction has clearly progressed over the course of the trilogy, mostly in the action department. The World’s End is loaded with energetic camerawork that Wright hasn’t really used on anything other than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It fits that movie more, but it makes The World’s End cross over into complete fantasy mode at one point. The more drinking and shenanigans the gang gets into the more the camera work and general movement of the film shifts and shapes around their drunkenness and it makes the film even more fun to watch.
Wright’s quick-cuts and always-on-the-go direction sadly fizzles out towards the end of the film, leaving a good five/ten minute stretch of content that ruins the film’s otherwise excellent pacing. It’s like Wright was almost trying to pay homage or squeeze in too many sci-fi references to film’s that didn’t have all too much to do with The World’s End. There’s definitely connections, but things get loose and sloppy when they should be ramping up and closing strong, like most of Wright’s other films.
This leaves a lasting impact on The World’s End and makes it the weakest film of an otherwise spectacular series. The World’s End is still a roaring good time and one of the year’s funniest films, but it’s not Wright’s tightest or most comprehensive film at all. It’s still a fitting conclusion to a trilogy that I’ve personally grown to love.
The World’s End is darker and much bleaker than Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead, but it’s also just as funny in some parts and will certainly grow on you with multiple viewings. It’s not the perfect finale, but still a rock solid closer to a fine trio of films.
The World’s End – 9/10