Pegg, Frost and Wright are back for the third and final film in the cornetto trilogy, The World’s End, which may not have as many memorable gags and laugh out loud moments as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz that came before it, but its bold approach to the sci-fi genre is a memorable one and serves as a fitting conclusion.
Whereas Nick Frost usually plays the eccentric, comedic/over-the-top character, the roles have been reversed this time around as it’s Pegg playing the outlandish, self-obsessed Gary King who gets the brunt of the laughs, with Frost taking somewhat of a backseat and playing the more mellow (well, mellow for the most part) Andy as the settled-down business man. And it’s a dynamic character change that pays off, as Pegg certainly seems to have embraced the boisterous nature of Gary King as he looks like he’s having a great time doing so on-screen. It might just be his best performance since his lead in Run, Fatboy, Run. And although the beloved duo Pegg and Frost aren’t alone in the fil – as they’re joined by childhood friends Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) – it’s really the tale of the group of friend’s frontman, Gary King.
Four out of the five friends have all grown up and changed considerably since leaving school 20 years ago, and they have now settled-down; married, kids, financially-secure jobs. But Gary, on the other hand, hasn’t grown up; quite the opposite, in fact, as he’s living the life of a rockstar; a lonely, unsuccessful, seemingly washed-up one that every can see – except for him that is. Think of a Jay-like character from Inbetweeners, but instead of the obsession with girls, the obsession is with himself. Gary clearly has some deep, psyche problems which get explored as the film goes on, which certainly ads a dark layer of context that we didn’t get in either SotD or Hot Fuzz. It’s at a counseling session that he has the epiphany of recreating one special (failed) night again with his childhood friends: the golden mile (a pub-crawl consisting of twelve pubs, ultimately ending at The World’s End.)
Twenty years on and Gary King and the gang (would make a great band name, add it to the list) have revisited their childhood hometown, Newton Haven, and are out to accomplish what they couldn’t do as teens: reach The World’s End. It’s only a matter of time before they realise something’s not quite right in in Newton Haven and its townsfolk, and from here the sci-fi element is brought into play and the film’s taken into high gear. And thanks to the sci-fi element, the film almost becomes like an adulterated version of Doctor Who, mainly thanks to the villains, which wouldn’t have felt out of place on the BBC on a Saturday night. There’s no doctor to save the day, but it’s up to the (now drunk) group of friends. And despite danger on the fray, Gary has vowed to make it to The World’s End, captivating in many very impressive bar-brawl action sequences, which director Edgar Wright deserves kudos for, for capturing them so well.
If you’re going into The World’s End just looking for a straight up comedy then you may leave disappointed though, as there aren’t many standout laugh-out-loud moments. What you will leave with, though, is a personal heartfelt story of friendship (with the added dose of sci-fi for good measure, of course.) Thanks to clever and witty writing, there’s plenty of little quips and one-liners to more than justify its position in the comedy genre. Gary’s failed attempt to jump over the fence (a callback to Hot Fuzz) feels like the biggest unnecessary and doesn’t payoff, but it’s hardly a major complaint. For the most part, I had a stupid Gary King-like grin on my face as the story, and the trilogy, played out. If you’re a hardcore fan of SotD and Hot Fuzz, then suffice to say you’re going to get the most out of The World’s End. But even if you’re not, newcomers should still have a blast. And it’s true what they say about time flying by when you’re having fun, as the film’s 110 minute’s whizzed by like no tomorrow.