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Tony’s Review of “The World’s End”

(Image Credit: Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

The “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” has come to an end, and though it may not be the best film of the trilogy, “The World’s End” is still a great film.

In 1990, Gary King (Simon Pegg) is having the time of his life.  With his four best friends, Gary attempts “The Golden Mile” pub crawl in Newton Haven, one pint of beer at each of the twelve pubs in town in a single night, culminating at the final pub, The World’s End.  The Golden Mile proves to be too much for the young friends and they never reach the final pub. Over twenty years later, Gary is still stuck on his days of partying and wants nothing more than to relive the old days and finally complete The Golden Mile.  Gary reconnects with his four friends, Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), and lies to each one of them to assure their return to Newton Haven.  As the pub crawl goes on and it’s clear to all that Gary is the only member of the group to not grow up, a fight in the men’s room at one pub shows the friends that their hometown has visitors from a lot farther away than London.

Director/Writer Edgar Wright and Writer/Star Simon Pegg have done the unthinkable with their previous collaborations, “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, creating films that not only lampoon their particular genres, zombie horror and police action respectively, but end up being on par with or even surpassing the films they poke fun at.  That gave “The World’s End” big shoes to fill, and the potential to fail even if the film was good but just didn’t live up to the previous two.  Luckily, they were able to tap into the charm and intelligence from their first two films and create a smart, solid, and enjoyable film.  While “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” are quick to show their genres, “The World’s End” goes through a considerable amount of the film focusing on the strife between King and his friends before abruptly, and brilliantly, switching gears to full body-snatching science fiction.  And while the sci-fi aspects are paramount in this film, the amazing fight choreography is an unexpected homage to the kung-fu genre.  If you’re a fan of their previous films, you’ll be quick to recognize regular actors and recurring jokes, such as jumping over the fence, but that doesn’t mean this is two-hours of the same old stuff.  The recurring actors and bits only go to add familiarity to this trilogy of films and in no way overshadows the rest of the film, which is non-stop the moment the tone shifts.

Instead of the bumbling idiot as before, Nick Frost finally shines as a strong hero in “The World’s End” (Image Credit:Focus Features/Universal Pictures)

The beauty of the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” has been not only the smart scripts, but the terrific acting in each film.  The use of the same actors in each film goes to fuel the enjoyment and also exemplify the acting abilities of the stars by having them play very different characters each time around.  Simon Pegg went from the loveable loser turned hero in “Shaun of the Dead” to the single-minded perfect police officer in “Hot Fuzz”.  Now, Pegg leads his friends as Gary King, a loser trapped in his own past who is difficult to like as a character but easy to feel sympathy for.  Paddy Considine debuted in the trilogy in “Hot Fuzz” as one of the Andys, the mustached inempt detectives both named “Andy”.  Showing his versatility that American audiences are unfamiliar with, Paddy’s portrayal of Steven exudes confidence and humor, but also the strength to place him on equal footing with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  As for Nick Frost, after two films of playing the loser, it’s clear that Wright and Pegg wanted Nick Frost to shine here, finally playing the most mature member of the group.  Not only does Frost stand out as the most mature member of the group, he also ends up being the physically strongest when the fighting begins.  This movie clearly showed that Frost isn’t an actor who needs to ride on the coat tails of his friends Wright and Pegg, being able to easily hold his own and even steal the movie.   Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman don’t stand out as much as Pegg, Considine, and Frost, but that’s because they weren’t meant to, and that’s ok.  They are still part of the ensemble and do their parts well, but in terms of the overall story, they aren’t meant to be center stage but for an occasional scene.  There’s a terrific cameo that I’d love to yell you about, but it’s best to keep it a surprise.  To even tell you what character he’s best known for would give you a 1/6 chance of correctly guessing his identity.

I can’t honestly tell you this is the best film of the trilogy, but that doesn’t mean it’s remotely bad, just that the first two films are that great.  I was a little disappointed with the ending, but the rest of the film was so perfectly executed that it didn’t matter.  We are given top-notch fight scenes, a collection of unique and relatable characters, intense science fiction, and the usual Easter Eggs and references you’ve come to expect from one of Edgar Wright’s films.  In “Shaun of the Dead” there’s an exchange early in the movie between Shaun and Ed that foreshadows the events of the film, and here the names of the twelve pubs foreshadow what happens at each.  Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have lived by the philosophy of paying respect to what has come before in the world of cinema, and that you can make a hilarious film that is intelligent and doesn’t rely on easy crude humor and shock value like the Judd Apatow films.  This film is deserving of far more praise and attention from audiences than its receiving, dropping from 4th to 8th place at the box office in only its second week.  “The World’s End” is a beautiful blending of comedy, action, and science fiction, but also a film that relies on charm, heart, and intelligence in telling its story, something that’s sorely missing from the comedy world today.

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