Much has changed since the 2004 release of Shaun of the Dead. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have garnished enough international fame to rub elbows with Hollywood productions, including Speilberg’s The Adventures of Tin-Tin. The duo also once again collaborated with director Edgar Wright for the laugh-riot Hot-Fuzz in 2007; they also worked with Superbad director Greg Motolla for Paul in 2011, which is not.
Edgar Wright has not had any trouble shining in the entertainment spotlight, either. In the last nine years, the director has launched from television artist responsible for Spaced to a household name, much thanks to the smash hit Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in 2010.
The World’s End brings these three men together again to complete the final installment of the Cornetto Ice Cream trilogy – Shaun as Red for gore-y zombie scenes and Blue for the police narrative in Hot Fuzz. The question is: do they still have that British charm?
The World’s End follows black-clad, anti-authoritarian Gary King and his four, now estranged, childhood friends, Andy Steven, Peter, and Oliver. Down on his luck enough to seek group therapy, Gary tells the peers around him about a fond memory of trying to conquer the Golden Mile: a ten-bar pub crawl with his four friends through their childhood town. No such evening was better, he reminisces, despite the fact none of the boys were able to finish.
Gary dwells long enough on this memory to give rise to an impetus: why not go back and compete the entire Mile? Despite their separate, longstanding prejudices toward their old friend, Andy, Steven, Oliver, and Peter decide to go along with the charade. Though when the men return to their old hometown, an eerie feeling lurks over each pub they visit, as if the people and place were being controlled by something…
One thing admirable in Wright’s filmmaking is an even edged concentration: half dedicated to humor, half to action. The World’s End is no different. The first half of the film is reminiscent of a hero’s quest narrative with those closest to you: there is certainly an emphasis on the problems of being friends with Gary, which is full out comedy. The second half is sharply different – after the first battle against the drone population. There isn’t much of a radical change in style from Wright in this final film, nor does it intend to be, which could have been an avoidable disappointment.
Though not every aspect of At World’s End is cookie-cutter. Instead of playing the typical uptight and “posh” character of his past roles from the trilogy, Pegg is without limits as Gary King. His hair, long and black, is quite the contrast from the short and business-like blonde audiences are used to0. The performance is charming and lacks the contrived manner one believes Pegg would adopt. Frost, like his counterpart, also flexes some acting muscle. As Andy, he plays a priggish businessman that Pegg wishes he could invoke, which should (and is) easily appreciated.
Martin Freeman (who was also in the previous two films ), Paddy Constantine and Eddie Marson are fun as the support friends, but hardly have fleshed out backgrounds to make them memorable. Rosamund Pile as Sam, the female lead, is certainly worth mentioning for her serious presence and skill. She adds the crucial crux so necessary for this film, not too mention, she excels more than her trilogy predecessors.
The World’s End is more of the same from Mr. Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Co. You’ll laugh at the jokes, cringe at the action scenes, and feel satisfied with the money spent on movie tickets..