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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The World's End: Not Quite the End for Pegg and Frost

I always feel bad whenever I decide to review a movie that it turns out I like. Reviewing anything you enjoy feels like a cheat; you end up biased in your criticism and just spend the whole thing fawning over it's unadultered epicness instead of, you know, actually saying something worthwhile.

Attempting to explain everything good about David Bowie descends into guttural screaming and a voiding of all bodily fluids.
I'd already decided to review The World's End before I started watching it, and I whole-heartedly regret my choice; this film is awesome. With Edgar Wright back on the writing and directing helm of the last in the fabulously named "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" after Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's disappointing solo effort Paul, The World's End is a funny, painfully self-aware, hyper-violent and utterly charming sci-fi flick that is exactly the same as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz in all of the right ways. Plus, it's all entirely a build up to the post-apocalyptic wasteland in the Sisters of Mercy Song, This Corrosion.

Who'd have thought something so epic could come out of the Sisters of Mercy, eh?
Seeing as I've already let the cat out of the bag as to my overall opinion on this movie, I'm going to restrain myself for as long as possible and talk about the few criticisms I do have of possibly the weakest film out of an overall impeccable trilogy.

Then again, how could you possibly be expected to compete with this?
The overarching message of World's End is very simple to grasp. Too simple. As in Joey Essex trying to unlock a door with a teaspoon levels of simple. It's a technophobia parable in a similar vein to a Phillip K. Dick novel without the weird dreamy undertones or, you know, subtlety. Technology is connecting the world but at the same time destroying our small-town values and, in turn, our individuality. Duuuuuuude. The "let's not let technology rule our lives" moral actually gets spoon fed to you so much during the finale that they actually resort to laying out the entire movie's philosophy in the form of a very shiny powerpoint narrated by Bill Nighy.

"If you would like to refer to page 64 of the prescribed reading material..."
That said, simplicity has always been key in the Cornetto Trilogy (or Fuzzy Shaun World as I shall now call it), with a basic plot allowing for a big blank canvas to spray jokes and blood all over. Shaun is a Romero rip-off that glazes over the typical zombie stuff and focuses on the importance of friendship, ice cream and a pint. Hot Fuzz is a buddy cop movie that's all about friendship, ice cream and...hold on a second here. These three movies are all exactly the same!

You cheeky scamp.
The plot isn't the only thing distilled down to it's basic essence either; the ragtag bunch of misfit friends that make up the principal cast are all purposefully clich├ęd characters; there's Martin Freeman's workaholic, Nick Frost's tee-total bespectacled bore and Eddie Marsan's family man. However, they've saved the best for Pegg in the form of the film's anti-hero, Gary King. After two movies it's nice to see Pegg and Frost swap their respective roles and it's safe to say that they both shine just as well with Frost playing the straight man to the slightly unhinged, gleefully self-destructive King. He's the natural end-point of the character that's classically "living in the past"; terrible haircut, immature personality, Sisters of Mercy t-shirt and an unhealthy obsession with his lost youth.

I would make a joke about that essentially being the lead singer of any goth band, but Fiona would disembowel me.
In a movie about the advent of technology and embracing the future, Gary King is literally the past, and this is where Edgar Wright and his spectacular attention to detail take to the stage, with one scene ever so surreptitiously playing Kylie Minogue's Step Back in Time while everyone wanders around in school uniforms. It's the little things that make World's End so great; there's some great wee hints to the unfolding story slipped into the spot-on dialogue and there's as much hidden in the background of the various pubs and clubs as you're willing to look for. The one that I spotted first was the adverts on the walls of the slightly-too-identical pubs, each featuring the number corresponding to that place on Gary's ancient "Golden Mile" pub crawl map. Then there's the great use of colour (blue = nasty alien robots), obvious in the form of gallons of blue robot blood and subtle in costuming choices and set design. All in all, if you're anything like me you'll find the most fun in playing spot the difference in the background, knowing all the while that everything you find was put there by crazy, obsessive compulsive people with way too much free time.

*snigger* blue balls...
I guess I've kind of strayed from the whole criticism thing but ah well, I can't help it. The characters are well formed and interesting, the music is excellent (particularly the original score, which uses some very familiar bleeps and bloops to great effect), the jokes are fast paced but never forced, the story is hilariously self aware and firmly tongue in cheek and my god, it's just too perfect! As such, and also due to me having been infected with some sort of vile pox in the past few days, I have little else to say about this film apart from please, if you haven't already, watch it. And while you're at it, watch the other two movies in the trilogy as well, because they're all exceptional.

Overall Ben Equivalence Rating

Going on a Reunion Pub Crawl with Your Old School Mates - 
The plot of the film is literally the only possible outcome to this situation: utter annihilation. 

1 comment:


    Also, you used the amish/old lady photo of Murphy. Nice.