First there was Shaun Of The Dead, then there was Hot Fuzz, and now we finish off Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with this little gold nugget.
Once again set in England, our story centres around a group of 5 friends, who in the summer of 1990, shortly after finishing school, decided to go on a journey known as “The Golden Mile”. It’s a pub crawl where they enter all 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven and have a pint/drink in each 1, with the last pub on the list being “The World’s End”. However, their plans didn’t go entirely right. After friends dropped out, some wacky tobaccy was smoked and finishing at around the 10th pub on the list, the boys never got to complete their quest, and by dawn, it was over. Many years later, the boys have all grown up…with the exception of Gary King, the group’s leader (played by Simon Pegg). Gary is still a late ’80s Goth. Still wearing his Sisters Of Mercy getup, and still driving around in his black 1980s Ford Granada known as “The Beast”. While his friends, Andy (Nick Frost) became a corporate worker and teetotaler, Steven (Paddy Considine) became the boss of his own construction company, Oliver (Martin Freeman) became a real-estate agent, and Peter (Eddie Marsan) became a car dealer and family man, Gary remained his teenage self after all these years, and while at an A.A. Meeting, he realised how much he wanted to complete the quest. So in a Blues Brothers/Shaolin Soccer fashion, he attempts to get the band back together and finish what they started. But as their crawl progresses, they begin to realise that their former hometown has changed a lot since they were teens.
The World’s End covers a lot of themes, especially within the contexts of “growing up” “moving on” “fitting in” “Being an Individual” “Being a cog in a clock/Brick In A Wall” “Changing with the times” “Backsliding into old habits” “Nostalgia” “Overcoming the monster” “The Quest” and of course “Invasion” and “Infestation” (I really wish the trailers didn’t spoil that. If it was a surprise, it would have been so much funnier). Gary King evidently continues to live in the past while the world has moved on without him. But at the same time, their second attempt at the golden mile brings in a lot of deja vu – especially when Oliver’s sister Sam (played by Bond Girl & Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, Rosmund Pike) just so happens to appear (Because in the previous golden mile, she knew Gary in the disabled toilet and Steven saw Gary as his rival for her affection) and the drug dealer “Reverend Green” (who sold them the pot in the previous run) also magically appears, looking tidier, but also more reserved. To say the least, underneath its fun factor, it is a movie with a fair bit of depth.
Acting-wise, the movie is roughly the same as the other Cornetto movies, only this time you get to see more of Simon Pegg’s range. In Shaun Of The Dead he’s “an ordinary bloke in an extraordinary scenario”. In Hot Fuzz he’s the super-serious straight man (and basically the T-1000), and here he is actually “The funny/crazy man” while his partner-in-crime Nick Frost is, for a change, playing the straight man this time. To aid in portraying Gary King’s loose Keith Richards archetype, the other 3 friends (and a sister) in their comfortable conformity are capable of emphasising Gary’s free-spirited outlook, and also his desperation in being fulfilled, important, happy and himself. And on top of this, I think everybody has, at some point, met a Gary King in school, which adds a bit of familiarity to the story.
The characters are very good, and that includes the 1s who appear to be actors on auto-pilot (Martin Freeman is possibly the best straight man in british comedy today, to the point that you would think he just plays himself in most things…and it’s a great overall character to watch) Nick Frost as Andy reminded me a little of his character Mr Sloane, and no doubt I think this movie helped prepared Him for the later role. Rosmund Pike is amusing at being oblivious to the town’s unusually increasing hostility. And for a small role, Pierce Brosnan does a good job as Guy Shepherd, the teacher who tolerated Gary the most when he was still in school and wanted the best for him.
The soundtrack consists mostly of older pop songs. Usually to suit the times when the men were boys in the ’80s, but also to be used in an amusing fashion; my favourite being The Alabama Song by The Doors, which has “Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar, oh don’t ask why…” as the opening lines…and of course, this might be a movie that would introduce some people to This Corrosion by The Sisters Of Mercy and Fool’s Gold by The Stone Roses.
In terms of special effects and action, the film changes a fair bit halfway (once again, the trailer was silly enough to give away something hilarious). The fight scenes are very funny, with some characters/actors demonstrating their knowledge of professional wrestling from time to time. CGI is very good, and due to the massive scale of the second half is incredibly well done on many occasions.
Would I recommend this film? Certainly! I enjoyed it more than Shaun Of The Dead, but I still think Hot Fuzz is by far the best in the trilogy (and a masterpiece). Great acting, some very good writing, likeable characters, a good plot, very good and comedic CGI and action, fitting (and nostalgic) soundtrack and some of the usual quick editing that became trademark to the series. If you haven’t seen the trailer to this film yet, don’t watch it! And if you have, don’t watch the movie until you completely forget the trailer. It’s so much funnier if it is watched with the expectation of simply seeing 5 guys getting plastered and then coming to terms with who they are and becoming friends again like in some black irish comedy that doesn’t have a name yet.
Overall rating: **** out of 5