The fruitful collaboration between writer and actor Simon Pegg, actor Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright began in 1999 in the form of the British Channel 4 sitcom Spaced. Since then, the trio have battled zombies in the 2004 cult classic Shaun of the Dead and fought crime in the 2007 buddy-cop satire Hot Fuzz. Now, they’re staving off an alien invasion in this year’s The World’s End.
In The World’s End, the last of the “Cornetto Trilogy”, five childhood friends reunite 20 years after a failed pub crawl and attempt to finish it at the request of the former leader of the group, Gary King (Pegg). Driven by King, the group traverses the “Golden Mile”, hoping to finish at a pub named “The World’s End”, but what they intended to be a journey through the pubs of their hometown turns into a quest to save the world from an annihilating alien force.
The film boasts a talented main cast, moving the limelight away from Pegg and Frost, if only momentarily. At the core, there is the enduring and tumultuous friendship between Gary King and Andy Knightley (Frost), and joining the duo are Cornetto regulars Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine, as well as newcomers Eddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. Those familiar with the trilogy will be accustomed to the gags and references that are staples of the series, but even those new to the world of Pegg, Frost, and Wright will be instantly introduced to their world of ironic, deadpan comedy set in high-octane situations.
Among the laughs and gasps, we are also made to consider the topic of conformity. The theme, originally dealt with in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, is fully developed in this film as a small town’s citizens’ bodies are overtaken by alien forces, à la Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But as with Wright’s other films, the message is not heavy-handed and instead creates an atmosphere that allows for character growth, witty comedy, and fast-paced action.
Too often, sequels are stale as a result of a lack of ingenuity and an inconsistent standard of writing, but in this series—an unofficial trilogy with different characters but the same actors and similar themes—each film is fresh and rewarding. The World’s End is no exception.
However, because it’s continued in the same vein as the previous two films, there is also a sense of familiarity to The World’s End. Where Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz had the strength of unpredictability, The World’s End was at times left wanting, especially in its pacing at the start of the film. Even so, despite its flaws, it doesn’t fall flat.
A fitting conclusion to the trilogy, and viable as a standalone film, The World’s End ultimately succeeds as an exciting, thematically relevant film without becoming a victim of its satire status. MMMM