Finally, after six years of waiting since “Hot Fuzz”, the collected talents of writer/director Edgar Wright, writer/actor Simon Pegg and actor Nick Frost return to the big screen with the last offering of the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, “The World’s End”.
Without giving too much away (beyond what’s on the trailer), Pegg leads in the role of Gary King, the leader of a group of schoolfriends separated by time and circumstances. Whilst his friends have settled into a life of responsibility – namely jobs, marriage and raising families, Gary finds himself on the wrong side of 40 and seeking to recapture the glory days of his youth.
To achieve his aim, Gary convinces his friends to return to their home town of Newton Haven. Their quest – to complete “The Golden Mile”… 1 mile, 12 pubs, 60 pints.
However, on their return, the five estranged friends find that the people who live in their old stomping ground are not as they remember and a place of happy teenage memories is more sinister than meets the eye.
I’m a big fan of “Spaced”, “Paul” and the previous two films of the trilogy, so I was seriously anticipating the release of the film as part of my summer of films. Unfortunately, whether it was due to my fanboy love or my anticipation that this was going to be a worthy enough climax to the trilogy, I was left disappointed with the final product. That’s not to say that it’s a film without good ideas, just somewhat disjointed in the execution.
Wright’s direction, along with the script jointly penned by Wright and Pegg, has the unenviable task of having to straddle several genres. Where “Shaun Of The Dead” was clearly a zombie/romantic film set in suburbia and “Hot Fuzz” was an American cop inspired/bromance film set in a quaint English village, “The World’s End” is a busier film with more elements to it including home town boys returning home, friendships that have fractured over time, that stage in your life where you’re really expected to grow up and mature… Oh, and an alien invasion to contend with which leads to quite a few action piece set ups that are in the mould to the scenes in The Winchester in “Shaun Of The Dead”.
There are also sly digs into modern society including the way teenagers are represented in the media and society in general, the way the world is reliant on communications networks, why society expects people and establishments such as pubs and coffee houses (there is a regular dig at one well known chain) to conform.
I can’t really speak about Simon Pegg’s and Nick Frost’s performances in their own right, as they have been the constant in the lead cast in the trilogy. Whereas Pegg was cast at the more responsible lead of the duo in “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, the roles are reversed with Pegg assuming the role of the irresponsible Gary who wants to recapture the glories of youth by undertaking “The Golden Mile” alongside his old gang, whilst Frost portrays the more responsible Andy… Corporate solicitor, family man and tee total.
As in the previous films, the pair’s performances compliment each other with, on the face of it, Andy being exasperated with Gary’s behaviour and Gary being oblivious to his own faults. However, there are hints laid down about why their friendship eroded. The real problem with these hints is that the pay off only comes into fruition when your head is spinning with the chaos going on.
The remainder of the lead cast don’t get much by the way of meaningful screen time to push their respective storylines along including unrequited love and how bullying affects people in later life. This is a shame when you consider the calibre of actors in these roles with Martin Freeman (“Hot Fuzz” and “Sherlock”), Paddy Considine (“The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher”, “Hot Fuzz” and “Now Is Good”) and Eddie Marsan (the two “Sherlock Holmes” films directed by Guy Ritchie and “Little Dorrit”) in the roles of the remainder of Gary’s gang and Rosamund Pike (“Die Another Day”) in the role of the younger sister to Freeman’s character, as well as being one of Gary’s teenage conquests and the subject of unrequited love to one of the group of friends.
Whilst I accept that Pegg and Frost are the real leads, it would have been nicer for the rest of the lead cast to have had a greater input to the story.
If you’re a fan of the trilogy and “Spaced” you will recognise a lot of the casting dotted around the film including Bill Nighy, Mark Heap, Race Spall, Julia Deakin and, for the Whovians out there, David Bradley and Reece Shearsmith (who will be seen later this year in the BBC docudrama “An Adventure In Time And Space” in the roles of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton respectively).
In addition to the above there is one cameo performance in this film which has a tenuous link to “Hot Fuzz” that I don’t want to spoil. Suffice it to say, it’s a piece of casting that’s unexpected and cleverly done.
Whilst “The World’s End” has a lot of clever ideas and themes within it, there is a lot of jockeying for position as to what the dominant storyline is and it left me wondering whether this was a comedy, a stab at a dramedy or an alien invasion film, whereas the trailer led me to thinking that this film was more in the vein of the previous two offerings. In addition to this, whilst there is an attempt at lightness in the film’s ending, it comes over as a bit dour and miserable in comparison to the previous two films which led me feeling a little dissatisfied with the film as a whole.
Clever ideas within it, but not the strong ending that I was hoping for this trilogy… but it does have a killer soundtrack.