While The World’s End is an incredibly distinct movie that stands out on its own, it’s hard, if not impossible not to compare it to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, especially after the three films had been dubbed, “The Cornetto Trilogy”. That said, certain aspects of this review will examine the film on its own merits, while others will compare and contrast it to its predecessors.
While I really want to address the plot, or the direction it took, I certainly don’t want to spoil it. So let me just say this: This plot really has some over the top twists and turns. Be prepared for ANYTHING. If this film had been written by anyone else, I highly doubt they could have pulled a story like this off without effectively jumping the shark and completely breaking the suspension of disbelief. However, this is Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg we’re talking about.
In case you don’t know, the premise of the film starts out benign enough. Gary King (Pegg), a middle aged man who never grew up, wants to reunite with his estranged high school friends, to tackle a challenge that he never got to complete in high school: Visit twelve pubs, and have a pint of beer at each one. While the friends don’t remember Gary in the best light, he is manipulative enough to convince all of them to come along on this mid-life crisis of a journey, and thus, the five friends set out to visit their home town for the first time in many years. The whole first act unravels rather slowly, taking its time to build the characters and their interrelations. If you don’t have patience in this music video driven generation of film-making, you might find the beginning dragging a bit, but if you appreciate good film-making and storytelling, then you should have no problem with it. Once the plot starts rolling, however, it picks up and escalates at an exponential rate, turning this grounded comedy drama, into a comedy drama sci-fi action thriller. There is no other way I could possibly describe it.
If you’re familiar with Edgar Wright’s work, or were at least a fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, then you should take comfort in enjoying the quick-witted, subtle yet fast paced humor that this film delivers. The characters are relatable, though perhaps not quite as memorable as the ones in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. Nevertheless, if you’ve watched those two films, as well as Edgar Wright’s 1999 TV series, Spaced, then you should see plenty of familiar faces that by now, feel like old friends and family.
The most unexpected aspect of this film had to be the climax and denouement. It’s really impossible to see it coming, so as I said before: Be prepared for anything.
If I had to mention a negative aspect of this film, it definitely has to be the action sequences. I think it’s about time the use of shaky camera during action sequences had been banned from cinema all together. But since this isn’t primarily an action movie, it did very little to take away from my enjoyment of it.
When compared to the grand scheme of the Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End is lacking the subtle, nerdy pop-culture references of Shaun of the Dead, and the thrilling action and in your face jokes of Hot Fuzz. However, what it does bring to the trilogy is the most well put together plot, with by far the most epic ending out of the three. On its own merits, The World’s End should be watched by people who know what they’re getting themselves into, because what seems like a fairly down to earth film at the beginning grows into something so over the top, that even the most obnoxious of, "I knew he was the bad guy all along" type of people, probably won't be able to predict how it ends. And yet, when I think about it, it really does make sense.
The World’s End is a highly entertaining adventure that throws away the rules and combines child-like creativity, with sophisticated writing and story structure. It has plenty of comedy to retain the casual viewer, but it’s the film buffs and fans of Edgar Wright's work that should really be pleased and entertained by this film in all its insanity.