I’ll make this one quick and to the point. The World’s End wins the summer, and it’s not close. This feels like a breath of fresh air after being bombarded with superhero/basic action films all summer. Here’s a movie with depth, a clever script, and inventive action sequences. Director Edgar Wright rounds out his Cornetto trilogy with his most impressive film of the whole bunch. Shaun of the Dead was a spoof/homage to the zombie genre and Hot Fuzz was a spoof/homage to action films. The World’s End is an homage to the 50’s Sci-Fi films (one in particular) and apocalyptic films. Simon Pegg is back as the lead along with Nick Frost and the other usual suspects.
Pegg stars as Gary King, a man who can’t let go of the past. He reminisces of the last night together with his friends where they attempted a pub crawl. Trying to make it through 12 pubs and reach the last pub known as “The World’s End” was the goal; they never made it, and time went on. The other characters have wearily accepted middle age, but Gary still fondly lives in that night. He longs for the past so much that he hasn’t moved forward. Gary sets out to get the crew together and relive that one night and finally reach The World’s End.
Edgar Wright has such a smart and energetic style as a director. He stylizes his films with quick edits that accent the comedy extremely well. His framing and use of colors makes every other summer movie look like drivel. The whole movie has such a refreshing style to it while telling an emotionally rooted story. The script has so much comedy that’s rooted in character and if you close enough, there’s a tinge of sadness to the jokes. Even as the movie treads into a bizarre SCi-Fi turn of events you stay with it because its first half is so well versed in camaraderie with the characters. Line after line leaves you bursting with laughter.
The humor has that clever british wit to it. There’s enough balance of different styles of jokes that they constantly feel fresh. As the boys talk about stories in the past, your own nostalgia rushes through your head. A spark of lost romance between Gary King and Sam Chamberlain (Rosamund Pike) adds another dimension of not being able to let go. At one point I realized I’d attached myself to the group as “one of the friends.”
But this town is not what it used to be. The people are not what they seem. The movie is a clear homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers but it explores different themes from that film. Why I consider this the best of the trilogy is because it never tips into spoof and is the most complex on a character and thematic level.
The characters here are now different as they come back to their hometown, as are the people they used to know (they’re robots!), but the first few bars they visit are new, but entirely identical. It’s a smart subtle observation about how consumerism has ravaged society, and also how nostalgia can paint reality differently.
Gary King and Nick Frost’ Andy had that “Stand By Me” kind of friendship. Of course they have their quarrels now, but the film’s heart beats because of them. The second half is full of action that is superior to anything I’ve seen this summer in terms of how its choreographed and shot. A bathroom fight scene made me want to stand up and clap. While I found the second half slightly too action oriented, the movie’s finale makes up for it as it delves into a deep and complex look at ideologies in the modern world. Is it good? Bad? The answer is profound and requires quite a bit of thinking.
The World’s End has a complicated message because it covers three very big issues… The rise of authority in all parts of our lives and the very real tragedies of addiction and mental illness. The film also explores adulthood and why it’s such a trap for most people. It’s about being true to yourself, caring for other people and standing up for what you believe. This might have costly effects but it’s necessary to be truly happy. I’ve never seen a film explore adulthood as entertainingly and as fresh as this.
Full of wit, charm, and a clever story, The World’s End is a triumphant summer movie. It’s the kind of film we deserve. It took until August but we finally got a great one. Don’t you remember hanging with your friends feeling like you were the king of the world? Wright’s reconciliation with time has layers of complexity hidden underneath a story of friendship and body snatchers. The film smartly raises questions about adulthood and how to move on when you don’t want too. How does one cope with a world that’s changing? This is what I call a “full package film” because it delivers humor, action, drama, emotion and layered thematic issues. Years from now, when I think of the summer of 2013, I will fondly remember The World’s End.