After Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, two of the most beloved British comedies of all time, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg finish the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ in style with the dark, audacious sci-fi comedy The World’s End.
Boasting a stunning ensemble cast, The World’s End focuses on alcoholic mess Gary King (Simon Pegg) as he gathers together his resentful school friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Freeman) for one last crack at the pub crawl they failed to complete as teenagers.
Otherworldliness isn’t felt at all in the painfully funny opening act of the film, as Gary slowly reveals the extent of his selfish, devious ways. Only after a brilliantly shot and staged battle with a teenager (in which he discovers most of the town are blue-blooded robots) does The World’s End really kick off into a deranged, stunningly directed action-comedy.
While The World’s End isn’t the funniest installment in the trilogy, it’s certainly the most interesting and complex. Wright and Pegg stuff the film to bursting with visual references and details; pay close attention to the opening flashback montage and all twelve pub names in particular. After Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Wright attacks the script with a gusto, crafting some of the most memorable fight scenes in years. However, The World’s End isn’t just focused on jokes and genre parodies. The sci-fi angle is simply a starting point for Wright and Pegg to explore increasingly dark ideas of addiction, depression, and the disappointment of growing old.
The supporting cast of British stalwarts and comedy heroes is incredible. Along with excellent Hot Fuzz stars Frost (grumpy and serious for a change), Considine, and Freeman, Marsan is hilarious as the meek Pete and Rosamund Pike is adorable as the feisty Sam, while cameos from Pierce Brosnan and David Bradley threaten to steal the show. However, this is Simon Pegg’s film. He gives the best performance of his career as the shambling, narcissistic Gary. He’s hilariously cringe-worthy throughout, but occasionally reveals the heroic streak within himself.
With less focus on jokes and a bold but unsatisfactory experimental climax, some may find The World’s End disappointing compared to its predecessors. However, Wright’s confident direction, Pegg’s blinding performance, and the sharp script make it both hilarious and unique, providing a surprisingly poignant end to the trilogy.
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