Few cult classics of the last decade managed to be as popular as Shaun of the Dead, and I’d say no zombie film has been as entertaining. When Hot Fuzz came along from the same crazy team, it managed to upend the action cop genre just as well as Shaun upended zombie horror. Both films walk a very thin line between satirizing the genre and being a part of it, and both succeed brilliantly. Now comes the sci-fi/alien/apocalypse comedy The World’s End.
The film’s aliens are actually doppleganger robots that have replaced most of the town in a mix of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives. Party guy Gary (Simon Pegg) convinces his four high school friends (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine) to go back to their home town to finish the twelve-pub crawl that they never completed 23 years before. After a few pints the town’s robot alien secret makes itself known, and the guys have to fight for their lives and try to save the world.
Unlike most recent comedies, The World’s End manages to include real character development, conflict, and drama without sacrificing laughs. Anyone who has had a few close drinking buddies in their life, and perhaps have gone too far some nights, will relate to these five friends. They have their ups and downs and still carry some old scars, but they are there for each other when the blue alien robot blood hits the fan.
Revered Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski made the famous “Three Colours Trilogy” with Blue, White, and Red. Film geeks Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have now completed their “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”. Strawberry red was in the gory rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead, original blue is in the police-centered Hot Fuzz, and alien mint green is in The World’s End. Along with a recurring set of actors and a few recurring jokes, the trilogy is mostly held together by Pegg and Wright’s quintessentially British humour and Wright’s love of fast editing, which is on full display in The World’s End.
I hesitate to mention, but if I had one complaint with the film it would be, ironically, the end. Although the story wrapped up and climaxed in a wonderfully entertaining way, the last few minutes saw a sudden tone shift that I felt halted the momentum. In a way it was the perfect way to end the film, and it marked a clear difference from the other two Cornetto films, but it still didn’t feel right.
Despite the minor issues I had with the ending, or with the somewhat underused appearance of Pierce Brosnan (with Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz, I’m sad that Connery or Moore weren’t in Shaun of the Dead for a James Bond hat trick), The World’s End was a wonderfully entertaining film.
Apparently Cornetto is releasing new flavours in the UK, so if the stars align and find themselves with some free time, perhaps the trilogy will expand. For now you can expect to see Simon Pegg expanding into drama with Hector and the Search for Happiness as well as more Star Trek, Nick Frost will be acting without Pegg for the first time in salsa dancing comedy Cuban Fury, and director Edgar Wright is finally working on Ant-Man for Marvel’s Phase Two films leading to The Avengers 2.
The World’s End is now playing at the Galaxy in Nanaimo.