Sunday, August 25, 2013

The World's End - A Fitting Conclusion to an Epic Pub Crawl

One thing Edgar Wright is probably known for directing is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Mally’s Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels from Oni Press. What he is probably known more for, however, is the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (aka the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy), a series of three comedy films written by him and Simon Pegg that each feature a particular flavor of Cornetto ice cream which reflects what each movie is about. The three movies in this series are Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and, most recently, The World’s End. Usually when I see a movie in a theater, I see a lot of ads for movies that, for the most part, don’t really hold my interest that much, if at all. However, The World’s End actually looked funny to me, and when I found out who exactly was involved with it, I decided I needed to watch it, my previous experiences with Scott Pilgrim and Shaun of the Dead giving me an idea of what I was in for (at the time I first saw this movie, I had not yet seen Hot Fuzz). Coming away from this movie, despite how I felt about the ending, I found it to be quite a load of fun.

In his teenage youth, Gary King (Simon Pegg) and a group of friends, Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (nicknamed “O-Man” for his “6” birthmark) (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Consindine), and Andy (Nick Frost), attempted a pub crawl in Newton Haven known as the Golden Mile, which would end with the titular pub, The World’s End. While in psychiatric therapy 20 years later, Gary is asked if he ever regretted not completing the Golden Mile, which leads him to try and get the group back together so he may reattempt the pub crawl and get to The World’s End like he wanted. His old friends aren’t exactly willing to go along with him, since they are busy with lives of their own, but somehow he manages to talk them into doing it (even lying a little to get his way). When the group goes through each pub, it is evident that things have changed since they were last there, but Gary doesn’t seem to care. At the fifth pub, however, while his friends discover his treachery, Gary gets into a fight with a teenager in the bathroom and things turn for the weird when he discovers the teen to actually be mechanical, spouting blue fluid after the teen’s head is knocked off. When Gary’s friends try to confront him, they end up having to fend off a group of the mechanical teens, at which point their pub crawl suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

The movie presents itself well as a comedy, not stopping with the laughs even when the more serious side of the story is unfolding. The jokes have excellent timing and hit more often than not. Not only that, but the jokes don’t feel forced or out of place and come off as more natural in the grand scheme of things. The sci-fi elements of the story, namely regarding the robots (who rather insistently are not actually robots), are actually rather intriguing and give the movie a great amount of depth, presenting much darker implications the more we learn about them. The main characters of the movie also have their own amount of depth; while they appear one way on the surface, you begin to react to them differently when you learn more about their respective pasts. The amount of depth in this story is rather unexpected, but I mean this in a good way since you wouldn’t expect it just by watching the trailers. Personally, I wasn’t sure what to make of the ending, since I thought it could have ended better, but despite my mixed feelings on this the story is still very well-written.

Gary King holding up a map showing the gang's previous Golden Mile attempt.
While The World’s End has a good amount of laughs mixed in with a surprisingly complex story for a comedy film, the special effects presented also deserve some praise. The “robot” effects are done in a way that looks seamless and blends in with the real-world surroundings rather than coming off as out of place. The movie doesn’t come off as a CGI fest like other modern movies, but when the effects do show up they are done rather masterfully, to where the more I think about them, the more I wonder how difficult some of the effects were to pull off.

The acting is also really good, special mention going to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the two actors most common to the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. After seeing Shaun of the Dead, it is evident to me that Pegg and Frost seemed to have switched character types, which actually shows that the two actors have quite a bit of range, displaying their acting talent nicely. This is not to say any of the other actors didn’t perform well; I could really tell what the characters were feeling and I reacted accordingly, which shows a nice bit of acting talent on their end as well. Some actors in the movie have actually appeared in previous Wright/Pegg works in different ways, including Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which gives them a good amount of experience that shows in their performance. Equally good is the background music, which matches the tone of each scene very well and helps push the weight of important scenes whenever it shows up.

During my time with this movie, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities to Shaun of the Dead, but in an observational sense. Both this movie and Shaun of the Dead revolve around pubs in some fashion, each has a (still funny) gag where Simon Pegg’s character attempts to jump a fence only for it to fall over, and the “robots” of this movie are in a way similar to the zombies in the other. This isn’t to say these similarities take away from The World’s End, but it does seem to help enforce the relationship between them and Hot Fuzz.

Of course, since this movie is the third part of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, it would be a good idea for me to mention which flavor of Cornetto ice cream relates to this film. It’s the Mint flavor, and it shows up near the end of the movie; when you are aware of the ice cream being present in each of these movies, you may find yourself looking for it here, but trust me when I say you’ll know it when you see it.

Overall, The World’s End is a very complex and funny movie. It doesn’t hit you over the head with how complex it is like some other movies do, rather it’s more of a subtle complexity that really adds a lot of depth to the film and helps it stand out from a lot of other comedies. It is possible to go into this film without having seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but if you have seen and enjoyed one or both of these movies, or are a Simon Pegg or Edgar Wright fan, chances are very high you’re going to love The World’s End. Considering Edgar Wright’s track record, I have faith in him directing the Ant-Man movie that opens Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2015.

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