Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Nick Frost, and Michael Smiley
Length: 1 hour and 49 minutes
Genre: Action, comedy, science fiction
MPAA Rating: R
Description from IMDB:
“Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from twenty years earlier unwittingly become humanity’s only hope for survival.”
For 23 years, Gary King (Simon Pegg) has been living off of the high of a single night when he and his four best buddies attempted a pub crawl known as The Golden Mile. Consisting of twelve pubs, the Golden Mile conquered the band of brothers, but Gary wants to get them all back together to recreate the happiness of that era. Gary is able to get Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver “O-man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) to agree before setting off to convince his once-best-friend, Andy Prince (Nick Frost). Despite his having a selective memory and conveniently forgetting the times he has screwed over his friends in the past, he convinces the group to return to Newton Haven, only this time, things are different and it isn’t just because they are older. Unbeknownst to the gang, the town has been taken over by the Network; an intergalactic entity trying to shape the Earth in order to join their coalition of planets. However, things turn awry when Gary fights one of the townspeople and discovers this secret. Now the night on the town has turned into a fight for survival as the five try and escape their home town.
Gary has latched the idea of the greatest night ever, but the only problem is that it happened to him 23 years earlier. He is stuck in the nineties, still wearing the same Sisters of Mercy shirt, Doc Martins, and driving the same car that he did at the time, which even contains a tape that Steve gave him in 1990. Everyone else has grown up and moved on to successful careers; Peter is a junior partner at his father’s car dealership, Oliver is in real estate, Steve created and sold a business, and Andy is enjoying a lucrative career in law. Gary was hospitalized and, believing that he could get the magic of his youth back in one last hurrah, concocts the idea of reuniting to finish the pub crawl. However, he only remembers the good times, not when he screwed over his friends for his own gain, which continues into this adventure. He fears growing up and assumes that everyone else has their affairs in order because they have come to act like adults. Andy reveals that his life isn’t perfect either, but that doesn’t keep him from trying. Though there is all of this characterization to unpack, that doesn’t mean that the film lacks in the smart dialogue and visual style that Pegg and Wright are known for.
The World’s End (2013) is the third part of what has been called “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”; the flavors of ice cream are strawberry (red for the zombies in Shaun of the Dead (2004), classico (blue for the action and police in Hot Fuzz (2007)), and mint (green for the science fiction in The World’s End (2013)). As such, it carries many Easter eggs from not only the genres of film that they exist in, but also between the three movies. The name for the trilogy comes from Cornetto ice cream, which is Wright’s favorite hangover cure; as such, each flavor has made an appearance in its respective film.
Wright and Pegg also often give part of the plot in clues that are either visual or through dialogue. The way they do this is in the names of the pubs that the five friends go through on the Golden Mile. These names are The First Post (the first pub), The Old Familiar (a pub that is the exact same as The First Post), The Famous Cock (Gary believing he is important), The Cross Hands (the first fight with the blanks), The Good Companions (the group trying to fit in), The Trusty Servant (meeting the “Reverend Green” (Michael Smiley)) The Two-Headed Dog (the fight against the twins), The Mermaid (the replicas of girls they knew in school), The Beehive (a pub filled with blanks), The King’s Head (where the viewer understands exactly where Gary’s mind is at), The Hole in the Wall (where Steven drives Gary’s car, the Beast, through the wall), and, The World’s End (where Gary, Andy, and Steven face off against the Network and cause the end of the world as we knew it). In addition to these techniques, the action in the film is supplemented by Wright’s work on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). During fight scenes, rather than making quick cuts in the action, Wright’s camera swings around and follows the momentum of the characters in the fight, creating a more visceral experience for the viewer.
The World’s End (2013) is probably the weakest of the three films in the trilogy, but I say that with the high bar the other two films have set in mind. It’s third act, like Wright’s subsequent film Baby Driver (2017), suffers from pace issues with an epilogue that feels tacked on and outside the tone of the rest of the film. That being said, I have thought about this movie a lot due to an assignment I had in college where I was able to analyze and compare it to Shaun of the Dead (2004), and I can say that it remains one of my favorites to this day. The writing and acting is fantastic and the themes of the film resonate with anyone who has grown up and moved away from their home town, only to visit it again and feel as though it doesn’t live up to their memories. I don’t think the movie got the attention it deserves since it was released in the same year as This is The End (2013), which had a more star-studded, Hollywood cast, but those of us who are fans of Wright, Pegg, and Frost know the value in their work and continue to enjoy it five years later.
Verdict: 4 confusing pronouns out of 5
Recommended for: Fans of Edgar Wright, fans of Simon Pegg, fans of Nick Frost, fans of science fiction, people who like beer, those with a sense of humor, and adults.
Not recommended for: The easily lost, robots who aren’t robots, those who dislike Simon Pegg, people who don’t like beer, people who don’t like the f-word, those who have difficulty understanding various English accents, or children.