The World’s End (2013)
Dir: Edgar Wright
It’s the final Cornetto!
First there was ‘Shaun of the Dead’, where a small group of friends faced a zombie uprising. Then in ‘Hot Fuzz’ two small-town police officers took on a sinister village conspiracy. Here, a group of middle-aged men who were friends at school, are reunited to have another attempt at completing the pub crawl around their hometown that defeated them when they were teenagers. The problem is that everyone in the town has been replaced by alien robot clones…
What a group of friends they are, lead by Gary King played by Simon Pegg (Star Trek Into Darkness), Nick Frost as Andy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) as Oliver, Paddy Considine (Submarine) as Steven, and Eddie Marsan (Jack the Giant Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman, War Horse) as Peter. The film also stars Rosamund Pike (Made in Dagenham) as Oliver’s sister who two of the other men had a crush on at school, and still do. Sadly she’s severely underused, especially considering how brilliant she usually is, which is a shame.
Zombies though fantasy, were not technologically difficult science fiction, they’re a relatively easy effect to achieve, especially considering the comic nature of ‘Shaun’. Then ‘Hot Fuzz’, there were a few effects in terms of some odd deaths, and an epic shootout, but again nothing that needed huge amounts of wizardry. This time, achieving alien robot takeovers requires a lot more special effects, and the budgets reflect this. Shaun = under £4 million. Hot Fuzz = £8 million. The Worlds End = £20 million, which sadly it seems to be struggling to make back quite yet, though a U.S. release is due next week which should sort that quickly enough.
Integrating such a sci-fi element into the teams style that has worked so well on the intimate small-scale before, is partly this films undoing. The other thing that makes it tricky is that Pegg and Frost are cast against their usual types. Gary King is obnoxious, and generally unlikable, while Andy is quite straight-laced and sensible. What has always been at the heart of their partnership in all their other films, the ones with Edgar Wright directing and also in ‘Paul’, is their close friendship and funny ways. They’re not entirely gone here, but certainly pushed aside for the majority of the film.
I have to give them all credit for trying something different and working to make this film in a way that doesn’t completely follow the formula set before, but it’s a slightly odd thing to do when it’s the 3rd in a linked trilogy (similar thematic setup and the trio of actors and director), and when the formula has worked so phenomenally well in the past. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are hugely loved, they are on TV here in the UK almost every week without fail. In fact, one of my friends watched Hot Fuzz on television with his new wife on his wedding night!… Anyhoo…
There are a number of little references to the other films, and there’s a really genius way of getting a cornetto in there. I think this may disappoint many who loved their other films so much, or it may prove popular with them as some reviews have been suggesting. There’s a good possibility that I personally am missing something having only watched it once, but I really expected to instantly love it as I did the others, but sadly not, I just enjoyed it enough to laugh, but not to leave the cinema thrilled.
Edgar Wright’s next project is working on Marvel Studio’s Phase 3 with ‘Ant Man’, and rumours are abounding this week that it might feature Simon Pegg in the lead role. That would be very interesting to see!