This is the way the world ends, not with a bang… but a belly laugh and a pint in hand. Okay, maybe T.S. Eliot’s famous poem didn’t end that way, but my version isn’t quite as depressing, now is it? The world ends, in the new Edgar Wright film, The World’s End, in a pub crawl between five childhood friends and a fight to save the world from aliens. Director Wright teams up for a third time with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, completing their “Three Flavors Cornetto” trilogy, which began with the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead in 2004 and continued with the action/horror comedy Hot Fuzz 2007. For The World’s End, Pegg and Wright, co-screenwriters on the new film, tackle reunion/homecoming films with the terror of a great paranoid sci-fi movie. I don’t want to give away the twist, but 45 minutes into The World’s End, it takes a bats shit crazy turn that kicks the film into high gear.
Pegg plays Gary King, a man-child suffering a mid-life crisis. His prime years were when he was a teenager and it’s been downhill ever since. While Gary has spent the past twenty years drowning in regret and alcohol, his childhood mates have all grown up and become respectable citizens. Steve (Paddy Considine) is a contractor, Oliver (Martin Freeman) is a successful real estate agent, Peter (Eddie Marsan) helps run his father-in-law’s car dealership, and Andy (Frost) is a high-powered lawyer.
Deciding that one more night with his closest childhood friends is what could cure his depression, Gary decides to lure his old buddies out for one more trip down the Golden Mile, a pub crawl through 12 taverns in their hometown. They must down one pint in each pub until they reach the final tavern: the World’s End. The five guys tried it once, back when they were just out of school, but they never completed it. In Gary’s mind, it was the best night of his life and he convinces his other four buddies to try it again for old times sake.
They all meet in their hometown and the others soon regret meeting Gary, as he’s more interested in getting obliterated and they’d catch up on each others lives. As with any reunion film, there are issues between some of the guys. Steve and Gary both had a thing for Oliver’s sister. Gary even did it with her when they were young. When she (played by Rosamund Pike) shows up in town, the tension between Gary and Steve rises to the surface. An even deeper rift exists between Gary and Andy, who were once the closest of the four. Andy has deep resentment for Gary after a incident landed him the hospital years earlier.
As the night progresses, and the old secrets begin to be revealed, the men begin to notice that the old hometown hasn’t change much, but the people sure have. They all walk around like drones, with suspicious looks on their faces. It’s not long before Gary stumbles upon the reason everyone is acting peculiar- and that’s when all hell breaks loose. From that moment the action begins. As he’s proven in the past (in particular Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World) Wright’s visually exciting film style and a knack for choreographing a fight. The film moves at a frantic pace for the last hour of the film, however, he still finds time to have reflective moments between the main characters and resolve the issues between Gary and Andy.
Pegg and Frost are reminiscent of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, a great comedy team capable of bring you to tears during the dramatic moments. Considine, Freeman and Masan fit in seamlessly to their ensemble; the relationship between the five characters was so believable that I would be happy to watch a movie just about their intersecting lives without the science fiction. The World’s End is a great addition to the whole apocalyptic film genre. What’s more, it’s a fitting end to the trilogy of films from Frost, Pegg and Wright. Let’s just hope it isn’t the last time they work together.
The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack of The World’s End includes a Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet™. Bonus Features include: cast commentary with stars Pegg, Frost, and Considine, technical commentary with Wright and director of photography Bill Pope, and the featurettes “Completing the Golden Mile – The Making of The World’s End.”