Review: The World’s End

At The World's End

The World's EndEdgar Wright’s Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy is something you don’t see very often—a series containing different characters played by the same actors, with different plots and genres, all held loosely together by the brand of ice cream briefly featured in each film. The “series” was an accident, a joke thrown out during an interview that turned into reality. The World’s End is the third installment, a sample of science-fiction alongside the hilarious yet gory zombie movie Shaun of the Dead and the buddy cop homage that was Hot Fuzz. It’s fitting that the end of the series is, well, the End. The series ends, the world ends.  Oddly poetic for a franchise that is founded on fart jokes, falling through fences, and intensely edited scenes of urination. So, how does The World’s End stand up to the previous films?

It still has the same brand of comedy that keeps you laughing throughout, but it is darker than the other two. Edgar Wright said that it was more mature and demented and he was definitely right. However, this is also possibly the least gory because most of the violence on screen happens to blue-liquid filled robots. Robots which can be ripped apart in a manner reminiscent of tearing the head off a Ken doll. There are plenty of fight scenes, ones that will make you laugh just as much as get your adrenaline pumping, but at the heart of the film is the same thing at the heart of each of the other two: friendship.

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz both have the friendship of Simon Pegg’s character and Nick Frost’s character as the core of the movie. This one switches things up a bit, though. The focus is a little more spread across the five friends rather than concentrated solely on the two buddies, but that’s not the only change to the usual formula. For one, this time it’s Pegg who plays the lazy degenerate while Frost plays the more respectable of the two. But also, the intense friendship that bordered on romance in Shaun and Fuzz has been broken here. Shaun showed a long-lasting friendship kept together despite the odds, and Hot Fuzz showed the beginning of a friendship. The World’s End shows a relationship on the rocks, like the aftermath of a breakup. Feelings are still there, beneath the surface, but too much damage has been done. If you watch the series for this friendship, you might be disappointed, especially with the ending.

The World's EndPart of the problem with why the friendship was damaged is that Pegg’s character, Gary King, refuses to grow up. That has been a theme throughout the trilogy: Shaun and Ed were stuck in a perpetual adolescence. Nicholas Angel actually saved the town thanks to Danny’s immature obsession with cop movies. The World’s End explores the dark side to this behavior, illustrating just how much harm it can do to people. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Gary King as he focuses on trying to relive that one pub crawl he thought was the height of his existence. His final fate is a bit sad. He survives, but he continues on trying to recapture his youth, living on in a delusion of kingship, surrounded by robot copies of his friends. In some ways he managed to break free from his demons, no longer needing alcohol and having apparently found a reason to live (and, okay, it’s pretty bad-ass that he’s going around in a robot gang with a sword on his back), but he’s still clinging to his past.

The darker, mature tone didn’t bother me, even though it is different from the first two. But the ending didn’t quite work for me. It went a little too far into absurdist territory, being somehow both ridiculous and somber. But what do you expect from a movie where everyone becomes increasingly drunker. It really was like an episode of Doctor Who if the Doctor was hammered. The final face-off between the humans and the robots was exactly how you might think a group of drunks yelling at an alien intelligence might go. (And Bill Nighy’s part was truly inspired.)

But all in all, this was a fun time at the movies. It was different, but other than the ending, where I think things fell apart a bit, I liked it. I think it’s a good ending to the series. I give it three-and-a-half Cornetto wrappers. Green choco-chip mint, of course.