For the most part, movies in the summer are mindless and fun. Never going beyond mindless action and cheap laughs. But here comes The World’s End, during the dog days of summer, to remind you that not all summer movies have to follow that model. The final installment of the, “Cornetto Trilogy,” gives us Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost at their most heartfelt. Giving us a film that is equal parts funny and as it is emotional. It is easily one of the best films of the summer.
The film revolves around Gary King (Simon Pegg) who in 1992 was in his prime. He was cool, the leader of his friends and considered himself to be the King of Newton Haven. On the last day of high school he and his four friends: Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), embarked on the Golden Mile. An epic pub crawl; 12 pubs, 12 pints leading them the final pub called The World’s End. As kids they never finished and for Gary that day was as good as life got. Twenty years later Gary is an alcoholic, still living in the nineties, while his friends are living successful lives. In an attempt at closure, Gary revisits each of his old friends, inviting them back to Newton Haven to attempt the Golden Mile again and is determined to make it to the end. However, once back they realize that something is wrong with their small town and this is where The World’s End takes a turn for the crazy (but in an oh so good way).
If Shaun of the Dead was a George A. Romero homage and Hot Fuzz was a Michael Bay riff, then The World’s End is a homage to John Carpenter. Starting out as a reunion film and then making the left turn into an apocalyptic event. The film is constantly navigating between comedy, drama and science fiction. It juggles all these genres rather well. The change from reunion comedy to an action packed science fiction extravaganza is effortless. Edgar Wright makes every moment feel heightened, from the pouring of beer to the turning of car keys, every moment has the same level of urgency that surrounds all the action in the film. Edgar Wright is practically the Kanye West of film. Someone who can’t remain still and fills every moment of his work with turbocharged exposition and situations.
Simon Pegg, alongside his partner in crime Nick Frost, lead a superb cast of actors. Everyone gives a solid performance and the film gives them all a moment to shine. Simon Pegg is the center of the film and his Gary is a character you’ve seen many times before, the guy who’s life never got any better after leaving high school and would do anything to relive his glory days. The difference in this film, is that Pegg gives one of the most heartfelt performances of his career, silly and sad, one that makes us laugh alongside Gary but also feel his pain. The real standout is Nick Frost, who starts out as the serious one of the group but soon gives this maniacal drunken performances as the film goes on. He brings his great comedic timing as well as great physicality to the role. He isn’t the lovable idiot this time around, which is quite refreshing. You pity Gary (Pegg) and not Knightley (Frost).
With how great the action and the science fiction aspects look, it is hard to tell that the film was made on a budget of $20 million, by today’s standards that is remarkable. On top of being one of the best films of the summer, The World’s End is also one of the best action films of the year. The science fiction elements heighten everything in the film, creating more danger (as people do die), while also adding relief for the characters as they play off those situations.
I loved The World’s End, but I could see why others might not share the same opinion. The World’s End isn’t as funny as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, which will hurt it amongst the mainstream audience. The film focuses more on emotional beats and storytelling, asking whether it is possible to get older without growing up. It also doesn’t help that the film has a slow start, only getting kicked into high gear once turning to science fiction. None of that bothered me as I found the film to be perfectly balanced, transitioning effortlessly from one situation to another.
The World’s End is a cheeky and touching film that is more fun than any of this summer’s tentpole films. Anchored by Simon Pegg’s and Nick Frost’s hilarious performances and fueled by Edgar Wright’s energetic direction, there is no better film to end your summer with. It is cheeky, clever, funny, action-packed and emotional, what a ride.
Score: 9 out of 10