Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Film review: THE WORLD'S END

Directed by Edgar Wright


Comedy-wise 2013 was a standard fare. The Way Way Back was uncomfortably hilarious (in places). The Heat was surprisingly good and will surely spawn a few disappointing sequels. This Is The End had a few moments but was overall a snooze-fest (I wish self-indulgence was the film’s problem). Monsters University, while hardly a Pixar classic, was still witty, funny and intelligent and several heads above everything else in animation business. Calling Scorsese’s latest a comedy is a stretch (even if technically it probably is), and Woody Allen did his first full-on drama in years. Which leaves us with this little film.

The World’s End is the last part of Edgar Wright’s quirky sci-fi trilogy. It all started a full decade ago now, with Shaun Of The Dead, which is still the world’s greatest zombie movie. Then there was the equally brilliant Hot Fuzz in 2007 that explored the hilarious still waters of British countryside. And now The World’s End, a reunion, a fitting finale, a comedy that doesn’t even make you laugh all that hard. Either that or a certain London cinema was drunk or doped all the way through…

The premise. A few old friends who are barely on speaking terms get reunited to repeat their semi-legendary pub crawl they once started and never finished. All in all there are ten pubs on the itinerary and the last one is obviously called The World’s End. You get Martin Freeman (who appeared for precisely one second in Shaun Of The Dead), you get Paddy Considine (who was in Hot Fuzz), you of course get the irresistible duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. It’s Simon Pegg’s character, a middle-aged loser and an enthusiast, who summons everyone and keeps the dream alive. The trouble is – he might just be the only one who still has that dream.

You would expect a riot of laughs. A bunch of brilliant English actors beautifully over the top while high on cheap beer. Well, not really, and it’s not even Martin Freeman’s particularly wooden face. It’s the script (as ever co-written by Pegg), the plot. You might chuckle on occasion (the hedge stunt still works), but as the film develops, as you witness the possessed, blue-blooded citizens and the night and absurdity growing, you realise The World’s End is scary social satire. The surreal, tits-out ending is brutal judgement on the webbed-out society that manages to be fresh, clever and original. 

Which is probably what makes these Edgar Wright’s films so good. Yes, they are funny all right (especially the first two), but there’s always an idea, a nice concept running through them like a supercharged wire. Hitting you in a way that is perhaps not entirely pleasant. And making this final installment a great, mature end of the whole affair. I have no doubt whatsoever that The World's End is a future cult classic quite on par with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. Terrific soundtrack, too.

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