Rated: The World’s End – Putting the Cap on a Wonderful Trilogy

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The Basics

20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hellbent on trying the drinking marathon again.  They are convinced to stage an encore by mate Gary King, a 40-year old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their hometown and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub — The World’s End.  As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s.  Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries. 

Written By: Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg

Directed By: Edgar Wright

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman

Humor and Such

I’m going to do my absolute best to keep out some spoilers.  While the trailers and commercials for the film seem to give away quite a bit of the film, it really doesn’t.  There are quite a few twists and turns the story takes, that if talked about, could hinder your initial experience.  So I’m going to do my best so that you can read on without fear!  

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, the film is a comedy…and a damn good one.  One of the key aspects of Edgar Wright’s ‘trilogy’ is the idea of taking a certain genre, and twisting it around to be humorous, while still retaining all the elements that comprise the genre.  You had horror with Shaun of the Dead, action films with Hot Fuzz, and now aliens/science fiction with World’s End.  The film succeeds, much like the previous two movies, admirably, and provides a hilarious film through and through. 

The humor extends naturally from the characters and situations without things feeling like they were thrown in there as gags for cheap laughs.  Pretty much every joke feels natural, and stems from the actions of the characters.  They did such a great job of establishing the characters and their personalities, that in quick order, you felt like you knew exactly what they were like, idiosyncrasies and all.  Thus when they did something, even though it might play out like a sight gag in any other film, it’s exactly what I imagine those particular characters doing in a situation. 

It’s not so much the jokes presented that make this film side-splitting funny, it’s the strength of the characters and the events unfolding around them.  It really speaks to the quality of acting presented in the film, that they were able to pull these characters off so well.  The actors did an amazing job, and managed to suck you into their characters, and make them believable to the audience almost instantly.   Considering the ridiculousness of some of the stuff going on in the film, this is by no means an easy feat. 

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Perfect Pacing

There’s a reason Edgar Wright is among my favorite working directors.  He’s an incredible storyteller, and more than anything, he’s a master of proper pacing in a film.  He’s able to keep the story moving along without getting bogged down or rushing to get somewhere.  It allows the characters to develop in a strong way and really hook audiences into the world they’re looking into.  

Within the first few minutes, it’s impossible to feel anything but sucked into his films, and a big part of that is due to the way in which scenes are paced.  I’ve often told young filmmakers looking to get into the video/film editing field that watching Edgar Wright’s films are a must.  They are so wonderfully cut and paced, they truly set the bar on how it’s done.  

The World’s End is no different.  It’s starts off as a sort of slow burn, where things seem normal and the characters are well established…but then things take a turn.  It’s the first inkling that things aren’t what they seem, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, there’s another twist added in there.  This happens throughout the film, and while they aren’t huge shocking twists by any stretch of the imagination, they’re enough to pull your attention back into the story and keep you guessing as to how it will all end.  

World’s End does a great job of keeping the flow for the story steady and even…for the most part.  Towards the end of the film it feels like things were stacked up a little bit.  As if they realized they were still lacking a few of the genre’s cliches and needed to squeeze them in there.  Even so, I’d consider this a minor bobble in an otherwise well paced film. 

I know this doesn’t exactly fit what I’m talking about with pacing here, but it’s the best spot I can think of for it, and it has to be mentioned.  Edgar Wright does a great job with action scenes.  You would have never guessed, but The World’s End features some genuinely impressive fight scenes and action pieces; the likes of which could stand up to anything in the blockbuster realm.  Seriously, after watching this movie, I can’t wait to see Edgar Wright tackle a superhero (I’m not sure Scott Pilgrim really counts) because I know the action will be visually stunning.  

They flow naturally, are easy to follow, and have moments that make you go, “oh wow!”  Where they could have seem dramatically out of place in regards to the rest of the film, the filmmaker’s ability to pace a movie allowed them to be incorporated seamlessly.  

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Personal Journeys

One of the things I look for in a great film is a character’s personal journey.  Having a character be the exact same at the end of the film as he was at the start is just poorly written, and cheapens the adventure as a whole (looking especially at you Jack Sparrow).  If a character doesn’t learn anything, or isn’t changed by the events in the story, then what’s the purpose?  If they remain unaffected by their experiences, how are we, as an audience, supposed to make any deeper connections?  

Again, this is another aspect in which Edgar Wright truly excels.  He manages to take characters (even the minor ones), give them all their own individual motives and personal story arcs which change them as the story progresses.  While they may not be huge changes, it’s quite obvious that each character in his films have embarked on a journey and returned from it different than when they left.  The World’s End might actually touch on this in a larger way than any of the previous Cornetto films, in that the main character of the film (Gary King) is a deeply flawed being.  

He faces a lot of personal demons, demons which have affected the friends he’s brought along with him as well, and he clearly struggles with them.  This really grounded the film and kept me engaged on a deeper level, making the story feel far more intimate and personal, despite the crazy things that happen when the shit hits the fan.  Because of this, I felt invested in the film more than just wanting to see how the story ended.  I wanted to see what happened to Gary, and was intrigued to see how the events in the film would affect his personal journey more than anything.  

A Little Less Subtle

One of the great things that fans of the Cornetto trilogy have always loved, is that the films seem packed to the brim with subtlety.  I swear, no matter how many times I’ve seen Shaun of the Dead (it’s been a lot), I still see something new, or something I hadn’t noticed before.  It’s a nice treat, that makes every viewing feel fresh and engaging.  Of the three films, though, The World’s End seemed to lack a lot of this subtlety.  

It felt like a more straightforward journey, with a more clearly defined pattern to it.  While I’m sure there are things I missed and can look forward to enjoying upon future viewings of the film, I don’t think there will be quite as many as before.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but considering what’s been established in the previous films, it’s kind of a bummer, and truly one of the only problems I had with the film (if it can even be considered an issue). 

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Bottom Line 

At the end of the day, The World’s End is an incredible film that manages to continue the magic that was started with Shaun of the Dead and make us all hunger for more.  It’s brand of humor will delight all audiences, and features a compelling story that has you caring about the characters and how it will all shake out.  This is definitely not a film you want to miss. 

9

You’ve heard my thoughts on the film, now it’s time to tell us yours!

-Jordan