Review: The World’s End

Spoilers

Trailer

“Three Colours Cornetto” comes to an end with an all-out apocalypse.

I do quite enjoy the combination of Edgar Wright, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. They have a certain knack for nailing a particular brand of comedy – “Britcom” is a term I have seen to describe, although it isn’t one I would use – and telling a good story in the meantime.

I might not have thought Shaun of the Dead was the utter masterpiece that others believed it to be, but I still enjoyed it immensely. In fact, I can say that I have rarely seen a movie that has so successfully mixed the genres of hilarious comedy and genuine drama with such aplomb.

Hot Fuzz might be my favourite comedy movie of this millennium though. There was nothing about that production that I didn’t like, from the style of humour, to the gross-out moments, to the sudden swerve to an action packed finale. That was a film that I considered a masterpiece of the genre.

And so we come to The World’s End, the next in what has been dubbed the “Three Colours Cornetto” movies (I would imagine they’ll have to change it to the “Cornetto Saga” for the inevitable follow-up of course). The World’s End has a lot in common with the other two, but goes in a different direction by the conclusion, and I’m afraid it wasn’t one that I really liked that much.

In the 1980’s, a group of five teenaged friends attempt, and fail, a famous 12 pint pub crawl that was supposed to finish at “The World’s End”. Fast forward to the present, and four of them have gone on to lead normal lives: unlike their former leader Gary King who, suffering from an acute case of arrested development and obsession with his past, gets his former comrades to meet up again to try and finish the pub crawl, despite numerous and acute objections. Those various problems, anxieties and unresolved issues between Gary (Simon Pegg), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Stephen (Paddy Considine) and Andrew (Nick Frost) are quick to boil over, and that’s all before the group finds themselves in the middle of an apparent robot takeover of the town and the planet.

It is a very randomised story, far more than the other two movies in this “trilogy”. Shaun of the Dead was about a man trying to save the women he loved from a zombie threat, with a fairly shallow subtext on the monotony of urban life and employment. Hot Fuzz was about a cop uncovering a vast conspiracy, with a subtext on the stir-craziness causing nature of countryside isolation.

The World’s End has a few more layers to talk about, not all of them good, and this over complication and attempt to add depth backfires in my eyes. Nominally, it is a story about the Gary King character, a rather pathetic individual who has clung to his past like a mollusc, and let this obsession ruin his life. The World’s End is the tale of him reliving the apparent apex of his life to this point, discovering that, yes, there are opportunities for bigger and better things, and that is never too late to try, even if it might appear so. His friends get sucked up into this as well, and find themselves having to face elements of their school days again. While parts of this part of the story were hard to watch in a painfully awkward way, it was a still a well-crafted, if not especially original, plot.

It’s the subtext and subsequent layers that start causing the problems. The first one I suppose is about the dangers of capitalism and the resulting “franchising” as the eerily similar pubs the group  wander into turns into an intergalactic attempt to make the very Earth itself “conform” to an apparent universal standard, an alien franchise of our very own. The problem is that, while this is used for a few half-decent laughs at points, the serious attempt to use it as a plot device is extreme and ham-fisted. It’s simply too much of a leap for me, to go from franchised pubs to alien invaders doing the same thing. The attempt to draw a line between the two is clumsy in my eyes, the sort of shallow idea that should be exercised in a second draft.

And it keeps going. Next up the very alien/robot invasion itself, which is suddenly introduced at around the end of the first half hour/45 minutes (I think) in a sudden and surprising way. From there it dominates the plot, but not so much that it takes over completely. It itself switches from an initial robot threat to an alien one, a plot that is expanded upon and then concluded just as quickly.

Unfortunately, The World's End's reprehensible and painfully awkward to watch main character brings the whole thing down several pegs.

Unfortunately, The World’s End’s reprehensible and painfully awkward to watch main character brings the whole thing down several pegs.

I’m not even sure what it is that made me dislike this swerve, considering that the other two movies essentially had the same thing. I think maybe it is just that the swerve and resulting genre shift in the other two was better set-up and was not brought down by an over abundance of layers in the story. It also helps that I thought the other two were funnier, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Lastly, there is a subtext about the dangers of over-reliance on technology, which is touched upon briefly throughout the running length, but then takes over completely at the very end, in a finale that rather beggared belief. A sledgehammered message to be sure, and not one I ever like really watching in any of its forms. “Tech as the bad guy” has been done, and I’ve rarely seen it done well.

But it is that first layer, the story of Gary King, which is the main focus. Like I said, it isn’t a bad story, but I do think that it was very serious and rather depressing for a movie that is, primarily, trying to make people laugh. It might just be a personal preference of mine, but I don’t tend to laugh at depictions  of desperate wrecks of humanity. Which is just what Gary is: as is made clear from the very first scene, where he languishes in group therapy, all the way to the final revelation that he has recently attempted suicide. The sheer awkwardness of King’s interactions with his friends, as he refuses to move on from the person he was at age 18, and their increased annoyance and exasperation at his behaviour, was actually difficult to watch. I’ve never had that feeling watching another film with this team.

And while it was a little enthralling, it did plenty I didn’t like. King is a totally unlikeable character from start to finish, with the attempts to make him more sympathetic falling mostly flat in my eyes: everything bad about his life comes from his own weakness and deceit, and it would take more than an apparent scene of him rejecting alcohol at the conclusion to change that opinion. His alcoholism is a tragic problem, but that doesn’t have to make him lie, or cheat, or be a general dickhead to his former friends and lovers, or remain hopelessly trapped in the past. Unlike Shaun or Sgt Angel, King is a protagonist that I absolutely was not rooting for. In fact, I found myself identifying more with the characters of Steven and Andrew, who probably have suffered more at the hands of Gary’s social ineptitude, and are the ones who, in the end, do more to try and bring him back from the brink of self-destruction than anyone.

Having this thoroughly unlikeable character at the forefront made parts of The World’s End, that first 40 or so minutes anyway, somewhat unwatchable for me. It was, in the Tracy Jordan sense “Hard to Watch”. There is only so much desperation and patheticness that you can cram into one man before you begin to wonder if he is the right fit for a comedy movie.

And the sudden change at the conclusion, where King has apparently gotten over his alcoholism and re-united a “blank” version of his old high school gang, was way too sudden for my liking. The character progression didn’t match up. There was something missing there, between a drunken Gary blundering into the apocalypse and sober Gary finding a measure of peace. As a friend pointed out, this is somewhat similar to the initial set-up of the character, which hinted at problems, probably of a drug dependence related nature, before the revelation that it was actually to do with a suicide attempt. If you want that sudden kind of turn where it all comes right for your main character, more work has to be put in to actually showing it.

I mean, this is a very serious movie, far more serious than the other two. They featured plenty of death and drama, but nothing like the sort that The World’s End depicts. There was an element of absurdity in the drama that engulfs Shaun and Sgt Angel, but it was still relatively normal, relatable drama. In The World’s End it’s a very extreme case of someone refusing to let go off his past, and dragging the rest of his friends on an extreme journey to relieve that past. You can mix drama into comedy, but you have to be careful not to go too far or else it isn’t “dramedy” any more, its “depressedy” (or maybe “comedepressed”?). And depressedy isn’t fun to watch, it’s an awkward smashing together of two radically different concepts.

It fact, it kind of reminds me of my objection to Silver Linings Playbook. That tried to take something like mental instability/depression and wrap humour around it as well, and it too was a failure in my eyes, because I felt that the depiction of the first element was too serious to facilitate the other. The World’s End has this problem twice over – through the attempted use of humour to soften the blow of King’s miserable existence, and the use of a science fiction plot to distract from it as well. Something has to give, and I think it very much gave in The World’s End.

So downbeat was this whole experience, that I actually expected the entire robot angle to have been nothing more than a daydream by King, one that he enters into in the bathroom having been rejected by his friends as a method of escaping the lowest point of his entire life, the sort of fantasy where he is able to be the hero one more time. Such was the depressing nature of what was on screen, that I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if that had been the case.

The World's End closes off on an over the top and needlessly depressing finale.

The World’s End closes off on an over the top and needlessly depressing finale.

Maybe it was just because I would prefer the zombie and cop drama genres, but I felt that the descent into the madness of such genres in The World’s End was not done to the best extent possible. The swerve comes very, very fast in The World’s End, a total game-changer, unlike the previous two, which did a much better job of setting up the genre satire portions of the whole experience. I didn’t really appreciate that. As you might note from my plot synopsis above, it feels very thrown together and tacked on, a strange addendum to the more serious story already in progress.

There are other problems with the plot. There is a romance element that was mostly a failure in my eyes, with the Sam character. On the face of it, it was just an extension of the “reliving the past” angle, but the bare traces of a romance sub-plot with the Stephen character wasn’t really expanded upon enough to my liking. Sam turns out to be a bit of a nothing character, just someone for Gary and Stephen to compete for in an utterly childish and unrealistic manner.

And then there is the various strands of the ending. The finale is a conversation with the alien overlords who are attempting to “franchise” Earth, but turns into a fairly damp parody of a conversation between an unruly teenager – as Gary so fervently wishes he could still be – and an exasperated parent. Moreover, it is a scene, the climax of all that has happened, where the remaining group members talk to the  disembodied voice of Bill Nighy, who simply reams off exposition in an unsatisfying straightforward manner. A few chuckles and drunken stumbling about, and that’s it. The alien invasion plot, introduced so suddenly, is discarded off in an anti-climactic and sudden fashion, as the bad guys are simply convinced by the inebriated ramblings of the Gary and Andrew to leave Earth.

Such an underwhelming ending, compared to the Winchester siege of Shaun of the Dead and the battle of Sandford in Hot Fuzz, is a disappointment. If you want to set up that kind of conclusion, go ahead, but the alien invasion story wasn’t crafted, in my view as a lead-up to such a finale.

And it only gets worse. The very end, an epilogue that races through the exposition required to set-up a post-apocalyptic wasteland, was laughably poor and underwhelming, the sort of tacked on bad idea that I’m stunned ever made it to shooting, something that would be more at home at the end of a sub-par RPG than a comedy movie with a budget like this one. It was seriousness gone way too far, an attempt to instil a sense of grandeur and epicness into a movie that had, thus far, been treading water if I was being generous. That finale pushed it over the edge into outright dislike for me, such was the ridiculousness on display. It wasn’t a happy ending, as much as Wright maybe tried to portray it as one, with the various characters getting something that they want – the Earth is still in ruins and millions are dead. Forgive me if I’m a little too stunned to chuckle at the sudden appearance of a Cornetto wrapper, or applaud at the tiny bit of character growth that King shows. If they had trouble deciding what kind of movie they wanted The World’s End to be, or what to focus on in particular, the finale was the very height of that.

But much more than any other flaw that I could expand upon, The World’s End’s plot simply isn’t as funny, or as fertile ground for humour, as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. And that is a very, very big problem. Comparisons between the three are not unfair, given  the similarities in cast and crew, and in terms of story, plot and setting, The World’s End is falling way short.

It’s also feels very long. It’s 10 minutes longer than Shaun of the Dead, and ten minutes shorter than Hot Fuzz, but boy does it feel different to that. Every scene seems like it lasts a few minutes beyond what it should. The fight scenes are too long, the exposition scenes are too long, the entire first act is way, waaay too long, and then the epilogue is too short. The pacing is off here, and that seriously affects the amount of humour that they are able to throw at the audience. When things are dragging, your audience isn’t going to laugh as much, and too much time here is spent on the maudlin and the depressing.

I don’t want to call it a total write off mind. Some elements of this multi-layered approach work a bit, and as a satire of the 1950’s style Bodysnatcher sci-fi films I think it does an OK job. Some of the aspects of reliving the school days work a little bit as well, with each of the four friends facing a different issue that they were never able to really resolve properly in the 80s. But ultimately it all falls a little flat.

Simon Pegg is Gary King, and he plays him quite well. The character’s role as a protagonist and the way the film tries to frame him as a sympathetic individual was my problem, not the performance, which is quite good. Of course it is Pegg, so of course it was going to be good. I do think that he is fairly typecast – he tends to get stuck playing socially inept characters, with Gary King simply being the worst offender – but he can play that type to a tee. Pegg is able to play all of the awful sides of King’s character, from, his bluster, his obsession and his finale breakdown.

Nick Frost is probably the best of the cast, playing mostly against type.

Nick Frost is probably the best of the cast, playing mostly against type.

Pegg’s King is a fool, but one that at least engenders a degree of pity. The World’s End, and Pegg’s performance is just one big countdown to the self-demolition job of King, as he goes from exuberant about getting his old friends back together to tearfully admitting that he has had brushes with suicidal tendencies. Pegg gives a very good, simple performance as a man who thought that he had everything to live for when he was 18, and grieves for all of the disasters that have happened to him in-between. Perhaps the only real moment of true sympathy I had for the character was when he decries the fact that, in whatever institution he is a resident off, “they tell me when to go to bed! ME!?” the sort of well acted and clever line that illustrates the inner turmoil of Gary King to the utmost of Pegg’s ability, and The World’s End is full of brief little glimpses of hidden brilliance like that.

And Pegg is just the beginning of a small, but generally very solid cast. I liked how Nick Frost was a little out of comfort zone for a large part of this movie, no longer just Pegg’s bumbling sidekick, but someone who is actually opposed to him, and does so with brilliance. His Andrew, once we get the full back-story late on, is a figure who would be fully justified in despising King, and Frost’s performance is that of a man who knows this, acts out that he does so, but just doesn’t have it in him. He has the building rage underneath, but at the end he tries to save Gary King, and I think the audience can understand why, at least to an extent: Andrew is the good friend, the kind of person that Gary thinks or wishes that he could be. From the icily delivered putdowns in the early part of the “crawl”, to the dressing room confrontation to the final, slurred discussion with the aliens, I think Frost might actually outshine Pegg on the acting front in this movie.

The other three members of the group have reduced focus, but still manage to make the most of it. Obviously Considine is the major player of those three, getting a bit of a romantic sub-plot and lasting to the end. I haven’t seen much of him in anything, but he’s decent here, if only as a slightly less antagonistic foil for Gary to bounce off of. In fact, he might be the most like Gary, insofar as he has been unable to get past some aspects of his school life, and has spent much of the intervening years trying to make up for that. Considine is flippant and nonplussed for the first half, but comes into his own as a more expressive individual in the later half, winning over Sam and trying to stop Gary self-destruction. But, he’s cruelly sidelined by the very conclusion, and I didn’t like the way that he had to play third fiddle to the main two, since I think there was more that could have been got out of Considine.

Martin Freeman, taking a break from filming and promoting The Hobbit series, does his usual good job. His “0-Man” is someone who has been trying to escape from the immaturity and crass nicknames of the past by presenting himself as the most professional and well-dressed man on the planet, with a demeanour to match. I liked how, after Andrew, he was the most antagonistic towards Gary, but Freeman did well to rein that in. He loses a lot after the robots are introduced though, and it isn’t long until he had only half a head to act with, the end of his fruitful participation.

Lastly there is Eddie Marsden as the “Quiet One”, who wilts under the pressure of various individuals – his father, Gary, his former bullies. Marsden was the guy hiding a serious regret over his school years and the harassment that he faced, and being someone who has similar feelings, I think I and many others could relate the most easily with him. When he waxes about how the worst part of meeting his former tormentor was that he wasn’t recognised at all, I was very moved by the way that Marsden put it, the laughing off tinged with genuine sorrow. That only made the explosion later more enjoyable. Marsden was great as the mousy member of the group who struggles to make an impact, but in the end he probably had the least amount of focus of the five.

That just leaves two others to mention. Rosamund Pike is Sam, and she was decent, with some good interactions with Pegg and Considine, though she really has little else to do other than be “the girl”, that is, someone for other characters to pursue, and in the end to have little actual bearing on the story. This was a problem in Hot Fuzz too, if not so much with Shaun of the Dead, but in a story this intensely focused, I guess the abundance of male characters to female can be forgiven.

And then there is Pierce Brosnan for….some reason. I’m not sure why someone of such esteem was cast in such a tiny and insignificant part, but there he is, for all of two minutes.

Oh and Bill Nighy is the voice of the alien, for probably no other reason than he was in the first two. Lacking even a presence to make an impact, his part was noticeable only for its inclusion in the general shabbiness of the final scenes.

Those last few bits of miscasting aside, The World’s End actually has, generally speaking, a lot of really good acting talent on show, which surprised given the mediocre nature of the actual plot. It isn’t really enough to save the experience entirely, but it something in The World’s End’s favour at least.

Rosamund Pike is given a higher billing than her screentime would suggest, but does fine in the brief scenes she is included in.

Rosamund Pike is given a higher billing than her screentime would suggest, but does fine in the brief scenes she is included in.

Visually, it’s a competent affair, shot well with some nice locations and sets to augment things. The emphasis, in the town of Newton Haven anyway, is on conformity, and the director manages to create that sense of conformity while framing scenes in as good a manner as possible to actually stop things from getting too boring.

The few action scenes are somewhat jarring though, as the camera work suddenly moves up close and personal. The fight in the bathroom with the first group of “blanks” was really off-putting in a strange way, with a shaky cam effect combined with up close shots, not to mention the sudden gratuitous violence shift. This was replicated in the bar room brawl scene later, with the shot choices just not really working for me, with not enough space in the frame to take in everything that needed to be taken in. The actual chorography was fine, and probably the most outwardly violent thing in any of the “trilogy” (Shaun of the Dead’s violence was always more comically presented) which, again, was just a little jarring to the viewer, who might not have actually expected something quite so visceral.

The final sort of “chase” to The World’s End pub was a poorer effort, one that was simply bizarre in the way it was framed and choreographed. The entire set-up for that moment is fairly mental anyway, but I felt that Nick Frost, of all the cast members, was the wrong guy to be focusing on for such a scene, that the entire thing had an undercurrent of awkwardness to it.

The CGI and prostethic work for the robots/”blanks” is just fine, if maybe a little bit basic by the end when there is a teeming horde of them. Maybe it does look slightly ridiculous, but that entire premise is slightly ridiculous anyway, so these doll-like entities with blue liquid pouring out of them didn’t test me too much. The alien stuff at the end looked fine too, if just uninspired and unworthy of being the centrepiece of the finale. Oh, and the giant “art” robot did look pretty dumb, the sort of thing that seems like it was included just for action-packed trailer shots than anything else.

There are some good visual moments. The tie-ins between the group’s current trip through the town and their adventure in their teenage years are generally effective, whether it was the disco, the dressing room shed or the last lingering glimpse they have of the area from a hill. I generally like that kind of thing, and Wright employs it well here. But those kind of smart visual cues are few and far between.

There are good and bad points to the script. Wright, Pegg and Frost have always been able to write good dialogue and good group scenes, and the interactions between the various characters – in most cases, between King and someone else – are actually decent enough, and help build the plot up. King is written rather well for the character that he is – he just isn’t a very likeable hero. There are so many decent moments where he gets to interact in different ways with the other characters, moving from the overly-sarcastic individual of the opening round-up to the more heartfelt declarations later on.

Those interactions, like the acting talent of the group, are the main sort of draw for The World’s End, but a lot of them still aren’t particularly funny, and that’s a problem. It’s strange, thinking that a movie like this is marketed wrong as a comedy, since it’s outwardly better moments are the ones with no humour in them whatsoever.

There is a serious problem with the lack of laughter in the script. The vast majority of the laughs are, apparently, supposed to come from the awkward and horrified reactions from the four men who have to deal with the nonsense that Gary King spews, but that just didn’t work for me. There are very few actual “Set-up”/Punchline” jokes, with the humour coming more from reaction type stuff – a sarcastic quip reply to something serious, or a visual shot like the Andrew character going off the wagon.

And there are laughs to be had. I laughed at plenty, probably the most at the closing line of the alien menace. But I did not laugh as much as I had at the other two movies in this “trilogy”, and that was crushingly disappointing. Maybe my mindset was just not tuned in right, maybe my expectations had been two warped. But I was not in the right humour for something like The World’s End, whose script is caught between wanting to be a serious drama about a deranged individual, and wanting to make people laugh in the quickest, easiest way possible. Plenty of 80s references for the crowd seeking nostalgia based “I remember that” moments, some vulgar, sexual and physical comedy and in the end, a sense that we are supposed to be deriving most of our laughs from looking down on someone as low as Gary King appears to be. Elements of all those things are in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but I really do think they were written in better in those scripts than they were here.

An interesting soundtrack keeps The World’s End ticking over on a musical front, but there isn’t really much to say. The selection of 80s tracks ties back into the nostalgia hunt, but just becomes overly-done by the end. There is a score, but so underused and forgetful as to be not worth mentioning.

The genre shift comes awkwardly, and while well presented visually, doesn't make up for the movies other problems.

The genre shift comes awkwardly, and while well presented visually, doesn’t make up for the movies other problems.

Themes then. The most obvious one is a combination of reliving the past, refusing to let go of the past and getting older, the central concept behind the whole Gary King character. He clings to his glory days and stubbornly declines to even consider any kind of personal growth, revelling in the sudden return to that kind of life in the opening half hour. The jacket, the sunglasses, the apparently incredible lack of self-awareness, it’s all there.

Gary see’s in his previous life the only thing worth living for, looking back on the failed pub crawl as the crucial moment of his life, uncompleted, all that he has left to live for and remember fondly. Such an attitude is obviously influenced by a chemical dependence, and is just devastating to see from an audience perspective, as he struggles to even consider that there might be a life outside of remembering himself at age 18. He goes through all of the past motions – the early part of the crawl, re-meeting Sam, the fights, the drunkenness – as if, in the event of him actually finishing it, he’ll be able to right the ship and have a more positive life, the life that slipped out of his fingers when that pub crawl was abandoned.

That effect is also there for the others, just to a far lesser degree. Stephen has been unable to let go of his feelings for Sam, and clearly has a bit of an obsession that has driven him in some respects in the rest of his life. The return to the village allows him to reconnect with that character. Andrew was a completely different person in his old days, a drunken, uncontrollable lout, and briefly turns back into that person, but does manage to reject him a bit, in the end. Oliver had to deal with a snarky nickname and a lack of respect, and has to try and face those things again after he has become a modicum of professionalism. And Peter, once and still the wimp, faces past bullies, seeking a way to undo some of the torment he went through as a younger man.

Being stuck in the past is portrayed as an overwhelmingly negative thing, but for Gary, who seems incapable of getting older emotionally, the apocalypse and the strange circumstances allow him a chance to remain in the past, in a sense, being the leader of a “blank” version of his young friends. That this is framed as a positive seems a little strange considering what has gone on before, but if this is what it takes for Gary to be happy, then so be it.

Then there is a twin theme of conformity and so called “franchising”. The world of the 1980s is a far cry from that of the present, where British pubs seem built to offer as similar and mundane experience as any other, where beers choices are limited, the decor is the same everywhere you go, and the bar staff are bland, emotionless figures. Starbucks and fast food chains abound, and the very essence of the horror plot is about people all being faceless robot slaves underneath their unique exteriors.

That’s all kicked into overdrive by the aliens attempts to “franchise” Earth, to turn it into the intergalactic equivalent of a Newtown Haven pub, just as “advanced” and identical to everyone else. Plenty of people on Earth seem to willingly go along with this, but there are those, like Gary and Andrew, who refuse. The price is the large scale destruction of humanity, with the groups drunken breakdown just a microchasm of the larger devastation. They take on the unmandated role of representatives of humanity – drunken ones at that – and decide that it is their species best interests to reject conformity and franchising, though they do so, perhaps, without the requisite knowledge of the price they will pay for doing so – perhaps a subtle commentary on the fact that, for all of the associated negatives with the advances presented as being of alien origin like computers, internet and other technology that would have seemed space age in the 1980s, it is far too easy to simply advocate a total shut down of such things, since it does not recognise the many positives they have, and have brought to our lives. A drunken duo rejects them in The World’s End, with at least one of them simply reliving his past role as a bad boy rebel, and the message may be that, in a way, franchising isn’t so bad after all – unless you prefer to focus on the individual consequences – Gary, Andrew and Stephen – over humanity as a whole.

Lastly, I just want to mention the overall theme of desperation. Gary King has plenty of desperation in him, and I won’t retread it once more. Andrew has desperation, of trying to cover up his not so perfect home life. Stephen is desperate to right past mistakes and win Sam. Oliver is desperate to be seen as more professional. Peter is desperate4 to stand up to the bullies that previously plagued.

They all come to the village with these problems with this sometimes open or something hidden desperation, and through the events of the night, some of them find a resolution and some of them don’t. The extreme finale allows Gary and Andrew to find a strange and unexpected kind of peace I suppose, to quell that desperate part of their nature, and so do the others – Oliver continues to be an estate agent under trying circumstances, Stephen makes a life with Sam and Peter devotes himself to his children. A night of drunken desperation and reliving of their pasts gets them all to that point.

I must move toward a conclusion. The World’s End is a failure to me, but I can sympathise to an extent because at least it is an ambitious failure. Wright, Pegg and Frost wanted to try and tell a multi-layered story that was far deeper than their previous efforts. They wrote good dialogue and cast their movie well.

But The World’s End is too complicated for its good, too convinced of its own awesomeness, that it begins to stray towards pompousness. It lacks a sufficient amount of humour for the movie it was marketed as and as a follow-up to its more worthy predecessors. It’s too concerned with 80s references, its swerve into Bodysnatchers territory is sudden, unsatisfying and leads to nowhere productive. It’s too long and poorly paced. It features a choice of “hero” that is simply detestable for large parts of the movie. Its ending is flat on the one hand, and rushed on the other.

There are simply too many bad elements here for the positives to make up for. The issues with the main character and the sheer lack of humour through large parts are the key flaws, and what drag The World’s End underneath the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Not recommended.

A disappointing addition to the Wright/Pegg/Frost canon.

A disappointing addition to the Wright/Pegg/Frost canon.

(All images are copyright of Universal Pictures and Focus Features).

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5 Responses to Review: The World’s End

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