Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, and Rosamund Pike
You are so blind! You so do not understand! You weren’t there at the beginning. You don’t know how good it was! How important! This is it for you! This jumped-up firework display of a toy advert! People like you make me sick! What’s wrong with you? Now, I don’t care if you’ve saved up all your 50ps, take your pocket money, and GET OUT! – Tim Bisley, Spaced
The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (or the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy) is Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s study of boyhood, manhood and the often rough (and usually slow) transition from one to the other. It started with a strawberry Cornetto (and a baptism of gore) in 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, matured with an original Cornetto (and a considerable amount of paperwork) in 2007’s Hot Fuzz and is concluded with a mint choc chip Cornetto in this, The World’s End.
Childhood friends Gary (Pegg), Andy (Frost), Steven (Considine), Peter (Marsan), and Oliver (Freeman) grow up in the small town of Newton Haven. As teens, they embarked on an epic pub crawl that would take them to each of the town’s 12 pubs, starting at the First Post and ending with The World’s End. Their failure to finish this pub crawl haunts Gary, who decides to gather the others to finish what they started all those years ago. When they arrive in Newton Haven, however, the town seems different. But is it ‘the five musketeers’ who have changed, or is it the town?
Even since television series like Asylum and Spaced, it’s clear that Pegg and Wright have some of the sharpest storytelling tools in the shed. Their skill with genre and seeming ease with structure are particularly apparent in this trilogy, and The World’s End is no different. The blending of romance, camaraderie and humour with popular genre; the crash zooms that inject action into the most banal moments; the perfect setup in Act I; ingenious use of visual storytelling and cinematic conventions, and a showdown in a pub.
Yet there’s something missing here: a youthful exuberance, perhaps. It seems more somber than its predecessors. And though this might make for some mixed feelings upon exiting the cinema, it’s this yearning for long-lost childhood naivety and energy that ends up realizing the tone and theme of the film perfectly. Gary and Andy have grown up, but Gary doesn’t want to accept it, and while they’ll see this adventure through to the bitter end (or lager end) together, who knows if they’ll do the same with their friendship? But this is not to say that this isn’t a fun ride, because it is. It’s gloriously nostalgic, from the soundtrack to the various appearances of some familiar faces both from the trilogy and Spaced. Wright has honed his action sequence craft even further since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Pegg and Frost’s switcheroo character-wise is as refreshing as it is fun to watch.
If a Star Wars comparison is in order (it feels appropriate), then The World’s End is Return of the Jedi. But unlike Tim, I won’t be keeping it in a separate box; it’ll take pride of place along with Wright and Pegg’s other adventures. A bittersweet yet delicious slice of fried gold.
Reviewer: Sallie Pritchard