A trilogy that has been distinctive and yet unofficial, the respective entries of Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto’ saga bear little resemblance to each other in their cinematic ‘flavours’. ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ intertwining a genre that is saturated with British entries in the form of the romantic comedy, with the threat of flesh eating zombies. ‘Hot Fuzz’ proved playful and gung-ho in its subversions of the buddy-cop film which remains predominantly an American type of film. Now with their names firmly established on both sides of the Atlantic, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reteam with their directorial maestro in a ‘bitter’ homage to the science-fiction genre whilst deconstructing the notion of nostalgia.
Introduced to the 90′s fresher looking versions of the five-piece, as they are shackled by the lazy stereotypes placed upon them within the confines of school, we are soon greeted by a middle aged Gary King played by Simon Pegg. Once his surname fitting of his popularity, now wallowing in self pity and craving a return to the glory days of his youth. In a desperate bid, King hunts down his beloved quad of friends (Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost and Eddie Marsan) who are content with the luxuries provided from their top end jobs and family life.
Collective in their reluctance to reunite with Gary’s care-free nature, Andy (Frost), Oliver (Freeman), Peter (Marsan) and Steven (Considine) all agree to return to their old stomping ground/the black hole of Newton Haven. Eager to complete a feat they narrowly failed to achieve during their teenage years, the gang attempt ‘The Golden Mile’ which involves entering twelve pubs and twelve pints entering their respective beer bellies. Unfortunately, they are set to be thwarted by an unlikely and unsettling threat that will likely draw comparisons to the extras that dominated Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ video back in the 80′s. Turn around bright eyes..
The obligatory tickling of the audience’s funny bone aside, ‘The World’s End’ is tonally the most heavy in its central themes which may initially leave fans of ‘Shaun’ and ‘Fuzz’ uncertain. The juxtapositions between Gary’s ’slacker’ and his alcohol fuelled appreciation of freedom with the gang both trapped by their careers and troubled by what he has become. A distinct lack of sentiment within their verbal sparring suggesting an unfortunate disintegration of their friendships. Wright’s previous outings with Pegg and Frost may have playfully involved the idea of isolation and using the modest settings to channel the comedy, but here it makes the successful switch from visual motifs to sheer human emotion.
For all its poignant ambition from a narrative perspective, Wright doesn’t skimper on the more familiar elements. His kinetic, controlled frenzy of a visual style fits seamlessly into the more thrilling and intertextual demands of this particular work, as the destructive nature of its impressively realised chaos mounts, whilst continuously underpinned by a quintessentially British soundtrack. The visual gags inevitably make an appearance in all their glory (fences!) and whilst they may run their course before the film’s finale, it’s the relentlessly witty and highly quotable one-liners from its game cast that hit the bulls-eye.
The camaraderie between Pegg and Frost is undeniable at this juncture and whilst their characters mark a clear and at times unpleasant breakaway from the sympathetic, loveable rogues we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, they remain on top form here. Challenging Wright’s tried and trusted, the trio of Freeman, Considine and Marsan all hold their own in the comedic stakes as they become increasingly intoxicated whilst Rosamund Pike’s affectionate albeit underused performance as Oliver’s sister Sam adds a fun dimension to the troubles faced by the gang.
It may slip into self-indulgence during its drawn out resolution, but ‘The World’s End’ is a frequently funny and thoroughly satisfying closer to Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, that excels in its admirably undeterred aim to surprise.