The World's End - Cinema Review

'will rightfully cement Pegg and Frost as one of the all-time great cinematic duos'

Let’s get the unavoidable question about The World’s End out of the way first of all: is Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s latest, the third and final entry in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (a title that seems to have recently gone from an esoteric cult label to the phrase rolling off every Shaun, Nick and Gary’s tongue), better than Shaun Of The Dead? The answer: no, it isn’t. But ignore that – there’s far too much here that deserves much better than to be impulsively oversimplified through comparison to the duo’s finest achievement.

Where Shaun Of The Dead demonstrated Pegg and Wright’s aptitude for astute observational humour, with follow-up Hot Fuzz largely opting for caricature and exaggerated comedy, The World’s End opts for a third path, the bravest yet. The film openly touches on dark, even tragic notes at several points throughout, particularly when uncovering the layers within Pegg’s Gary King.

If Shaun Of The Dead is a “rom-com-zom”, and Hot Fuzz is an action-comedy, then The World’s End is equal parts sci-fi-comedy and comedy-drama. It’s a tonal choice which many may not expect, but one which pays dividends in ensuring this isn’t just a retread of familiar ground already covered twice before. The World’s End feels like Pegg and Wright moving forwards, maturing as filmmakers and trying new things with a great deal of success as they look to life after Wall’s products.

As an homage to the sci-fi genre, The World’s End is as rich and resplendent with references as we have come to expect from Pegg and Wright’s encyclopedic knowledge of and obsessive relationship with cinema. There are nods here to everything from The Day The Earth Stood Still to Back To The Future, with delivery more akin to Shaun Of The Dead’s subtle sprinkling of cinematic tributes than Hot Fuzz’s equally enjoyable but more on-the-nose efforts.

The casting is arguably the strongest in the trilogy, with contemporary big British talents Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman in support and impressing comprehensively throughout, often playing satisfyingly against type. Appearances from many a Britcom favourite lend further weight to proceedings even if some are lamentably brief, although one Bill-Murray-in-Zombieland level cameo makes up for some of the other blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roles.

The World’s End also gives us Pegg and Frost’s finest collaborative performance yet, with a conscious choice to place both actors in roles almost entirely different to what we’ve seen from them before. The emotional journey the two actors take us on is flawless, with the friendship on display here arguably deeper and more complex than even that of Shaun and Ed in the trilogy’s first outing. Either way, if it hasn’t already happened, The World’s End will rightfully cement Pegg and Frost as one of the all-time great cinematic duos.

Relatively, The World’s End feels weakest during its early fight scenes, which perhaps aren’t as funny as you’d expect, although director Wright steadily settles into a groove allowing more comedy into later action sequences. The introduction of the extra-terrestrial element of the story also arrives a little out of nowhere, although this is likely to feel less disjointed on repeat viewings. All in all however, these are minuscule flaws in an ambitious, creative and expertly crafted film. It may fall ever so slightly short of the synthesis of writing, direction and performance achieved in Shaun Of The Dead, but The World’s End certainly does more than enough right on its own merits.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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