The World’s End- An okay sci-fi spoof with decent action, visual effects

tweThe World’s End rounds out a trilogy of collaborative genre spoofing films by director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their first effort, Shaun of the Dead, tackled the zombie movie with great success, giving us likeable characters and some very funny scenes to go along with the horror. Hot Fuzz took on cults and action flicks, again with great success. Now, in The World’s End,  the trio turns their sights on a more science-fiction oriented theme, that of aliens taking over by replacing humans with robotic doubles. So, is the third time the end to a perfect trifecta? Or has the team lost a little steam along the way?

Turns out, it’s a bit more of the latter. While certainly entertaining and slightly amusing in spots, The World’s End lacks the charm of the trio’s first two outings, sacrificing the humor for a bit more action and visual effects. It’s not necessarily a terrible thing, as fight scenes are well choreographed and the visuals work nicely, especially in a spectacularly staged climax. But the humor falls a bit flat, relying on Pegg’s character being more of an immature drunkard while his friends have all grown up and moved on with their lives. The contrast could have been a great set-up for some terrific comedic bits, but instead we get the overly familiar irresponsible and reckless man-child trying to get his friends to regain their youth by reliving an event from the high school days.

That event is The Golden Mile, a pub crawl through twelve taverns in the small town of Newton Haven. Gary King (Simon Pegtwe2g), the leader back in high school, wants to finish what he and his group of friends- Peter (Eddie Marson), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman), and Andy (Nick Frost)- started on their last day of school in 1990, but failed to finish. Years later, Gary is in rehab, regretting that he never made it to the twelfth pub, the titular The World’s End. Off he goes to recruit his old mates. Peter is now a car salesman. Steven is an architect working with a construction firm. Oliver is a successful realtor. And Andy, who Gary calls his best friend, is now a lawyer working with a prestigious law firm. The four are reluctant at first, but Gary convinces them, and off the group goes from London to return to Newton Haven.

Things start off a bit slow. Oliver gets a phone call from his sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), who Steven still has a crush on and with whom Gary had a fling when they were high schoolers. Sam agrees to join the group, but isn’t quite pleased with seeing Gary again. She goes her own way, and the group continues with their pub crawl, all the while talking about how their lives have changed and contrasting that with Gary who still hasn’t grown up. A bathroom encounter that leads to a fight reveals something startling- some of Newton Haven’s citizens have been replaced by robotic beings with blue blood. The group suspects things may be quite amiss in their former stomping grounds, with things getting more harrowing as the night goes on, leading to the eventual confrontation at what turns out may be the very appropriately named final pub on The Golden Mile.

To a point, the story of five ordinary guys facing off against extraordinary circumstances works. They don’t waste a whole lot of time in disbelief about the townspeople btwe3eing replaced, as they continue with their pub crawl so as not to tip their hand that they know what’s going on. The eventually meet up with their old teacher from high school, Mr. Shepherd (Pierce Brosnan) who explains what is going on and tries to appeal to them in just cooperating. Naturally, this is not the path our heroes take. Wright moves things along at a pretty brisk pace, making the movie a long chase scene with Gary still trying to hit each pub to complete his mission. While the fight scenes with the robotic replacements are very well staged, the humor suffers in the process, as does any character development. It’s in this that the film loses itself, making Pegg’s Gary a less endearing loser than Shaun and someone that’s a bit harder to root for the his Nick Angel. The script by Pegg and Wright may have simply bit off more than it could chew, even with its decent premise. It all ends quite spectacularly (in fact it looks like Wright was given a bigger budget to work with based on the success of Shaun of the dead and Hot Fuzz), and while the ending is decent, it still left me feeling that something was missing in this outing.

All in all, The World’s End isn’t a bad movie, but it could have been so much better. It makes for a weak ending to the trilogy of movies that Wright, Pegg, and Frost worked together on, and yet it’s still a bit better than some other genre films that have come out this year. If you enjoyed their other work, you may very well enjoy this movie. Or it may leave you disappointed as it doesn’t measure up to the other two flicks. If you lower your expectations, you may have a fun time with this. Otherwise, it’s a rental at best.

The World’s End is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

 

6.5/10

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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