Monday, 29 July 2013

The World's End (2013)

The World's End is a film I've wanted to see for a scarily long time. It started about five years ago when, after seeing Hot Fuzz for the first time, I looked at its Wikipedia page (as I was wont to do back then). This led me to discover the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, an otherwise unrelated series of comedy films with Edgar Wright as their director and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as their stars. At this point, The World's End was only a rumour, with only its Cornetto flavour confirmed (if you're unfamiliar, each of the three films are associated with a particular colour, also a flavour of Cornetto ice cream: Shaun of the Dead was strawberry, a gory zombie red, and Hot Fuzz was classic, a blue for the police force). The World's End would be mint choc chip, for the traditional Martian green. Where Shaun had its zombies and Hot Fuzz had its suspiciously friendly village folk, World's End would deal with some sort of alien invader.

Pegg and Frost released Paul in 2011, another sci-fi comedy which could almost have been a taster for this one. This, however, had nothing of the influence of Edgar Wright, of whom I am a stonking big fan. The first two in the trilogy were very unique, although they both retained the same style - a blend of brilliantly puerile and wonderfully intelligent humour, full of sharp and quotable lines and coy references to the sort of cult show or film enjoyed by the writing team of Pegg and Wright. Their television show Spaced was similar, and The World's End belongs to the very same vein.

It's true that it doesn't have the gore of the other two, which some fans might have been looking forward to. There's relatively little blood in The World's End, with organs and bloodstreams replaced with the blue gunge contained within the extraterrestrials' fragile white shell. The over-the-top arterial spurting in Hot Fuzz is hilarious, but it's not such an integral part of the humour in the movies. I think the violence is Wright and Pegg's method of getting some of their trademark surreality into a story about policemen; it's automatically there in Shaun and World's End thanks to the supernatural nature of their plots.

But that's enough of looking at the film as part of a trilogy. To all intents and purposes, it's not. It's an individual film with a story and characters that bear no relation to those in either Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. The World's End has a particular fondness for its characters that makes it unique. We first meet Gary King (played by Simon Pegg) and his four friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) as teenagers, when they first attempt the 'Golden Mile', a pub crawl in the quiet rural town of Newton Haven. It appears to have been a disaster for everyone other than Gary, who remembers it as the best night of his life. So, spurred by irritation at never completing the crawl and a painful inability to let go of his past, he sets about finding his old mates and organising another shot.

As the five move with varying enthusiasm between the pubs, their true selves, beaten down by years of having to perform as a sensible adult, are released, and each has a glorious drunk personality. In addition to this, it slowly becomes obvious that Newton Haven is not in the same state as when they left it. The townsfolk are acting suspiciously, with no one recognising the team who painted the town red not so long ago. They appear to be being controlled by a third party. When they get angry, King and co. have to get their hands dirty.

Simon Pegg clearly relishes being given a character with such depth, someone clinging on his youth with such moronic desperation that you can't help pitying him. He reels off Gary's many great speeches with delight. Nick Frost demonstrates he can play a (relatively) straight part as well as anything else, Paddy Considine makes you feel as if he could be your best mate and Eddie Marsan is as brilliantly charming as always. It's nice to see Martin Freeman returning to the sort of British comedy he made his name with now he has become a major Hollywood player. The World's End is a cameo-spotter's dream, with a great number of recognisable faces from UK film and TV making an appearance, including Michael Smiley, David Bradley and Reece Shearsmith, as well as a couple of more internationally-known names.

The music is exceptional, the astonishing fight scenes are very well choreographed and shot and the script is written with love. Edgar Wright has confirmed his place as one of the top British directors and writers out there. There is no good reason why you shouldn't go out to the cinema and see it.

Follow me on Twitter: @crunro

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