The World’s End (2013)
Film review #565
Director: Edgar Wright
SYNOPSIS: Gary King is haunted by a twenty year old memory of failing to complete the Golden Mile with his friends: twelve pubs, twelve pints that stretch across his hometown of Newton Haven. He decides to reunite the five friends and convinces them to travel back to their hometown to complete the task they began twenty years ago. However, as they undertake their legendary pub crawl, they begin to notice that there is something strangely different about their home town…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The World’s End is a 2013 filmed directed by Edgar Wright, and the third film directed by him and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fizz being the previous two. in the opening, we see Gary King, a good-for-nothing tearaway, who decides to conclude some unfinished business from twenty years prior: a legendary pub crawl across his home town, with twelve pints across twelve pubs, concluding at the World’s End pub. Gary convinces his four friends, who now all have grown up with families and careers (apart from Gary, who is basically the same as he was in high school), and they return to their home town to try and finally complete their unfinished business. however, they find their home town has changed a little…in more ways than one, as they eventually discover that the town’s population has been taken over by robot clones by an alien intelligence who wishes to “improve” humanity’s behaviour to prepare it for acceptance in the wider galactic community. The film handles the split between the more down-to-earth premise of the beginning of the film, and the sudden turn to sci-fi strongly and smartly. But this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz also did the same thing with similar success. The World’s End feels like a continuation of what those film’s achieved in terms of storytelling and humour, delivering fast-paced dialogue, fight scenes and banter from it’s likable leads. poking fun at the trope of alien possession such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it provides a good setting for the characters to approach it in the guise of a pub crawl.
Simon Pegg plays the lead character of Gary King, an immature, good-for-nothing tearaway who hasn’t changed since his schooldays, and who presents us with a character we’re not sure whether to like or dislike: he exists as both someone who is problematic and an embodiment of some of the worst qualities of humanity, but also a reminder of who we once were as teenagers that quietly gets lost as the “real world” dawns upon us, highlighted by Gary’s four friends all having careers and/or families. They all provide a counterpoint to Gary’s antics, but Gary never feels outnumbered, as he’s always such a huge presence and takes control of conversations to turn them into high energy performances. Ultimately, Gary’s character arc doesn’t really get resolved in any final way, but that’s kind of the point: that people like him don’t fit into the grand plan, and that’s okay. The ending of the film isn’t able to match the rest of it, with the dialogue between Gary and the alien entity not having the same energy and witty wordplay as the rest, and the epilogue being the onset of the apocalypse may not be to everyone’s taste, but does little to sour the movie as a whole.
The film often feels like a refinement of the practices undertaken in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, with Pegg and Frost doing their own stunts, high-octane action sequences, and quick, snappy wordplay which never misses a beat. The weak spots in the film are it falling short of following through on it’s theme of maturity, growth etc. in the end, and while it’s obviously going to be compared to the two aforementioned films, The World’s End doesn’t have those memorable moments that will distinguish itself and make you think of it on it’s own merit. The film definitely has plenty of polish and refinement, and the comedy, acting and general sense of fun are all top notch though, and make the film worth a watch regardless of any negatives that don’t sour the whole experience.