Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright, the people who brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, team up again for a sci-fi drinking comedy called The World’s End The story finds a group of friends reuniting and facing off an alien invasion while reliving the past and exploring their old bonds of friendship.
Pegg stars as Gary King, a pushing-40s alcoholic stuck reliving his high school glory days. He seeks to relive the greatest night of his life – when he and his high school friends attempted a golden mile of 12 pubs in one night, ending at The World’s End pub – even though his friends have since matured and grown apart. The maturity-stunted King bursts back into their lives and persuades them to team up for a trip down memory lane, only to find memory lane populated by Stepford-like replacements. King won’t let them, danger, or his far more reasonable friends stand in his way of making it all the way to The World’s End.
This film is the final film in the Wright/Pegg/Frost “Cornetto trilogy,” preceded by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. This is a thematic trilogy, repeating story elements and actors, but without the stories actually connecting. Just as the two films before, The World’s End plays on the repetition of events before and after everything hits the fan, the surrealism of the character’s normalcy continuing amidst absolute insanity. And of course, it stars Pegg and Frost and features a reference to the Cornetto ice cream treat.
This is a hilarious film that shouldn’t disappoint any fan of the previous films. Pegg’s boisterous and spastic personality moves the plot, but the rest of the cast effortlessly keeps up as Pegg’s King drags them across town and through scores of robotic baddies to get to each successive pub. Frost in particular plays a straight-laced and domesticated self that’s the mirror opposite of his Shaun of the Dead character (who likely would have got along quite well with Pegg’s King in this film).
As with Wright’s other films though, there is a deeper layer of emotional connection and friendship in this film. These characters, the best of friends from childhood, have all grown apart. It takes the most damaged and estranged of them to bring them back together, and an alien invasion to re-forge their bonds stronger than ever. While the other two films do good jobs portraying these relationships, The World’s End is even better with a more powerful display of friendship and character growth that easily connects with its audience.
The most pleasantly surprising part of the film though is the fight scenes. These actors, not typically action stars, throw down with the best of them with some stellar fight choreography and camera work. Especially Pegg, Frost, and Considine. I knew to expect good comedy and strong characters, but the fight scenes are trilling enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The film has a couple of slow, exposition-heavy scenes which drag the momentum. The opening narration of the character’s childhood exploits take a few minutes before we get to see present day with Pegg and cast, but it proves necessary for informing how later scenes repeat history as they tend to do in the Cornetto trilogy.
The World’s End is a perfect capstone to this trilogy of films, taking the strongest elements from all of them with a dash of science fiction, and creating a thrilling tale of growing up and friendship that anyone can relate to while laughing throughout the film.