For those of you that don’t know, the movie-making trio of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost is amazing. With Wright in the directing chair and Pegg and Frost in starring roles, you can bet that any movie done by these three is going to be comedy gold.
It all started with Shaun of the Dead (2004), an absolutely brilliant spoof/homage to the classic zombie horror films of George Romero. And what can I say? It’s a comedic masterpiece that effortlessly blends over-the-top and violent zombie goof and subtle forms of humor rivalling that of Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013). There was actually a point when this film was played regularly on one of the movie channels, and I would watch it every day. And every day, I would catch a new joke that I had missed in previous viewings. I’ve watched the movie with director’s commentary, and I can watch the Funky Pete television redub over and over again. It’s one of the very few movies that, were I to review it, may get a perfect score.
And honestly, Shaun of the Dead is in my Top 5 favorite films of all time, I think. It just does everything right, and it paved the way for this comedy trio.
Then, in 2007, another gem directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost was released entitled Hot Fuzz. This time, it was a spoof/homage to all of the buddy cop films of the eighties and nineties. And once again, it was brilliant. Though, I have to say it’s a bit less subtle than Shaun of the Dead. It starts off a bit slow, but by the end, it’s so ridiculous and action-packed that you can’t help but crack up. Plus, it features some disguised appearances by Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett. All in all, it’s also brilliant and hilarious, but I still like Shaun a bit more. But either way, if you haven’t seen one or both of them, you must. Now. Seriously, go watch them both now. In fact, go watch them both now, even if you’ve seen them before.
So, considering the amount of praise that I rain upon these two movies, imagine my excitement when a new Wright/Pegg/Frost movie was announced. This new film was to be called The World’s End (2013). And to make it even better, a few select theaters were actually going to marathon all three movies the night before The World’s End’s release. And I managed to get a ticket. So, in addition to a free shirt, I got to spend six hours watching what has come to be known as Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy.
And as you might imagine, it was a great experience. Two of my favorite movies and then a third by the same guys. How could it not be great?
Usually, being my cynical self, this is where I would explain how it could not be great. But not today. For you see, the first two movies were just as good as they’ve always been, even after all this time. And The World’s End was highly enjoyable as well.
The film follows a washed-up drunk named Gary King (Pegg) that decides to get all of his childhood friends back together to conquer his hometown’s “Golden Mile”, a pub crawl that will take them to twelve pubs that they had attempted, and failed years before. And then shit gets really weird.
You see, unlike Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, The World’s End doesn’t appear to really be spoofing or paying homage to any particular genre. I suppose you could say that it pays homage to science fiction, but it feels more like they were trying to be a bit more original with their story this time around. No part of the story can really be considered a spoof of any other film. It’s more of a sci-fi/comedy with an original story that’s a little similar to previous sci-fi films. Now, this definitely isn’t bad, it’s just not what I expected.
The first part of the film is spent almost entirely on character development. That’s not bad, but that means that it takes a little while for the plot to actually take off. And when it does take off, it’s very suddenly. It’s just Gary and his friends drinking, joking, and arguing and then, suddenly, the sci-fi elements just kind of appear and the rest of the movie is about that. It’s a bit jarring.
I also like Simon Pegg’s character in this film considerably less than his characters in the previous films. In Shaun of the Dead, he plays Shaun, who’s just a dude that’s a bit down on his luck and stuck in his routine, but he’s ultimately a good guy that you want to root for. In Hot Fuzz, he plays Nicholas Angel, an ace cop that wants nothing but to uphold the law to the best of his ability and is, against his will, put into an unfortunate situation. How can you not get behind that. In The World’s End, he plays Gary King, a drunk that’s still stuck in his high school days that practically forces his friends into doing what he wants. He’s genuinely unlikeable until near the end of the movie.
The plot is really weird, too. Like I said, it’s an original story, and it’s a pretty odd one. But I do like it. It’s similar to one or two older movies, but it does put a pretty cool twist on it and makes it pretty funny, too. And in the fashion of the previous two films, Hot Fuzz a little less so, it also gets very serious in the third act, only to become funny again.
One thing that I’m very happy about though is the fact that Martin Freeman had a much larger role in this film than in the others. He had small parts in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. In Shaun, he only says one word. That strikes me as a waste of your Bilbo. But he’s one of the main characters in The World’s End. And I like me my Martin Freeman.
They also got Pierce Brosnan in there, too. And that’s just really weird to me. They had a James Bond in Hot Fuzz as well in the form of a moustachioed Timothy Dalton. And that was awesome. Mr. Dalton integrated himself perfectly into the movie and embraced the comedy so easily. He was great. Pierce Brosnan, though? He wasn’t bad, but he still seemed horribly out of place. And it was made even weirder by the fact that he’s not in the movie for very long. It’s just sort of, “Hello Pierce Brosnan… Good-bye Pierce Brosnan”.
And sadly, there were a couple other actors from the previous films that I was hoping to see, but didn’t. Those being Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey, and Bill Nighy. I guess technically, Bill Nighy was in there, but he never appeared onscreen. He just had a voiceover. And that’s disappointing. And Moran and Bailey didn’t appear at all. That sucks.
The ending is also a bit off as well. It’s definitely not something you see coming, and it’s actually pretty dark. With a comedic edge, of course. But it’s still way different than the rest of the movie.
The one thing that I haven’t touched on yet is the effects. And they’re fine. There are some really silly ones, and a few that just didn’t look great. But for the most part, they’re pretty good. But there was actually a surprising amount of shaky cam during the action sequences, and if you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know how I loathe shaky cam. In fact, there was actually a lot more shaky cam in Hot Fuzz than I remember as well. Except in that case, it’s hard to tell why it was there. The people behind the film seem clever enough to have used it simply as part of their spoof/homage. But it also could have been used for the same reasons that every action director hack resorts to it. I like to think it’s because Edgar Wright is clever, though.
I’m going to be quite honest here and just say that The World’s End is easily my least favorite of the entire Cornetto Trilogy. It’s still very good, but it just seems to fall short of the brilliance of the previous films in the trilogy. But the bar was set pretty damn high. Realizing that, it’s hard to be disappointed in it. I’m just glad that it was as good as it was and that the trio behind it hasn’t lost their touch.
Like I said, I like The World’s End less than Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But that doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that you shouldn’t see it. Because you should. Personally, I look forward to purchasing it when it’s released on Blu-Ray.