“The World’s End” Concludes the Cornetto Trilogy with a Whimper

The Cornetto Trilogy, which began with Shaun of the Dead and continued through Hot Fuzz, comes to its conclusion with The World’s End about a pub crawl of apocalyptic proportions. But is it any good?

the-worlds-end_posterAll films should be reviewed independently without outside influences, so that’s what we’ve tried to do. But you’ll forgive me if, like everyone else watching The World’s End, we couldn’t help ourselves in comparing and contrasting it with director Edgar Wright’s existing body of work, a canon that mainly features his favourite leading man Simon Pegg.

Pegg is in full-on mid-life crisis mode here as an ageing hellraiser who reunites his now-grizzled teenage gang to finish what they started back in their long-distant youth; a pub crawl encompassing every watering hole in their backwater home town.

This third offering in a loose trilogy containing previous offerings Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz is a new take on classic chiller Invasion of the Body Snatchers; for those unfamiliar with the premise, our typically unlikely heroes gradually learn that their local community is being replaced by aliens that mimic their hosts in every way apart from their emotions. Wright’s film broadly follows this well-worn template, but replaces aliens with unnerving robotic mimics. This plot device seems to serve little purpose other than to allow our human protagonists to rip the limbs off the enemy (cue blue robot blood flying everywhere) and then use said limbs as weapons, a production decision seemingly made with a 15 certificate in mind.

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These developments lead to some decidedly odd narrative logic. In Shaun of the Dead (oops, how did that slip in there?) the central characters decide that the most secure location to ride out the zombie apocalypse is the local pub. However ridiculous you deem the logic to be there is a ‘thought process’ behind this that pulls the viewer along the narrative stream with the characters. In The World’s End the central characters decide the only way to avoid detection by the robotic imitators is to complete their pre-planned pub-crawl. The logic is highly dubious at the outset and quickly becomes entirely nonsensical, preventing the viewer from truly identifying with the characters. Although the narrative progresses at a fast, interesting pace throughout, this is achieved by the kinetic spirit of the production and not well-scripted character motivation, the lack of which makes it hard to care about the minor characters.

“…Pegg himself is better suited to the role of the plucky underachiever, as played to perfection in Shaun. Here the now established Hollywood A-lister is a former high-school hunk turned recovering alcoholic, trying desperately to relive former glories. The performance is engaging but not his best work…”

It doesn’t help that the supporting roles are thinly scripted and uninteresting. Why actors as accomplished as Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike would be interested in appearing in such minor parts isn’t clear, with only Considine seeming at ease with his surroundings.

Pegg himself is better suited to the role of the plucky underachiever, as played to perfection in Shaun (damn!). Here the now established Hollywood A-lister is a former high-school hunk turned recovering alcoholic, trying desperately to relive former glories. The performance is engaging, if not his best work, but Nick Frost is good value in the co-star role and as a duo they are far more satisfying here than in their most recent effort, the underwhelming Paul (I give up – it’s too hard).

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One thing The World’s End gets very right is its constant sense of momentum; the ultimate goal of reaching The World’s End pub isn’t reached until the final reel, allowing the narrative thrust to hold everything together while the film gallops along at a cracking pace. Which makes it a shame that, as is standard for a Wright film, the conclusion fails to match up to what comes before. Fortunately the numerous and overly long fight sequences have long gone by this point, but The World’s End certainly doesn’t know when to say the ‘The End’ in a conclusion that proves to be simultaneously mediocre and outlandish.

The comedy genre is notoriously difficult to review, due to the vagaries of comedic taste, but we’re going to do so anyway. Hell, it’s our review. In my opinion The World’s End doesn’t meet the comedic high watermark of Shaun of the Dead but nevertheless is consistently amusing. Unless you’re determined not to have any fun, there are guaranteed laughs in this film. Which might just be what you went to see it for in the first place.

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Words by Luke Ostler & Simon Evans

the-worlds-end_posterDirected by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Released: 2013 / Genre: Comedy / Country: UK / IMDB

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About the Author
Luke Ostler and Simon Evans are the perfect film reviewing team: one's a trained journalist, the other a bona fide film buff!

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  1. Dan Heaton Reply

    This was a tricky film because there’s a sadness to these guys, especially Simon Pegg’s character, that I didn’t expect. When the silliness takes over, it’s a pretty jarring change of pace. Even so, I still like it and think it was the least predictable of the three. It might not be my favorite, but I’m glad they took some chances.

  2. Rodney Reply

    Sorry Luke, but I’m gonna disagree with you. Naturally. This is a comedy film, after all, and comedy is the most subjective form of cinema there is. Personally, I found this film to be the equal of Shaun of The Dead, which ranks only a margin below Hot Fuzz in this trilogy. I thought the comedy landed spot on (perhaps it’s a generational thing, I’m not sure?) and the effects, editing, pacing and scripting all worked really well.

    I did think the ending lacked…. I don’t know… something to knock it out of the park, but the downbeat ending and apocalyptic nature of the film seemed to ring true for our modern, what-do-we-do-when-we-lose-facebook society.

  3. jjames36 Reply

    Was this as good as Shaun of the Dead? No. But few comedies are. Do I think this still a quality comedy? Absolutely, the limited character development notwithstanding. At its core, it is very fun.

    Anyway, good review! I do agree it is hard to review this without considering the first two flicks in the loose-trilogy.

  4. Raghav Reply

    The film is the least favourite of mine in the trilogy but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. However I pretty much agree on all the points you made and I think that since Pegg is a Hollywood A lister he does get a lot more screen time and has a dominating presence as compared to the other brilliant actors whom I wouldn’t mind having more meaty roles. Still it was a fitting and not too disappointing end to the trilogy. Cheers

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