The World’s End: Zombies, murderous farmers and aliens
The World’s End will be released in Germany on September 12th, 2013
In The World’s End, the third instalment of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return to the big screen for one final battle to the death. Gary King (Frost) is a middle-aged, good-for-nothing alcoholic who longs to recreate the happiest night of his life: to complete a bar crawl which he began at the age of 18 in his home town of Newton Haven with four childhood friends. In a delusional attempt to ignore the reality of his unfulfilled life, King convinces his four ex-pals (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) to return to Newton Haven and embark on a journey of 12 pubs, 5 men and 60 pints. Upon their return, King and co. discover that the inhabitants of their home town have been replaced by order-loving robots. If they do not conform to the new way, they may not survive the night.
To understand the impact of The World’s End, you cannot just consider this film as a single piece of work, but rather as the culmination of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. You must look back to the trilogy’s inception way back in 2004, with the arrival of Shaun of the Dead, the world’s first “zom-rom-com”. Then you must move on to 2007′s Hot Fuzz, a comic action flick set in the rural south of England.
Shaun of the Dead and the subsequent Cornetto movies have been put together by the director, writers and stars of British TV comedy Spaced (1999). With Spaced and these subsequent films, writer and director Edgar Wright, writer and actor, Simon Pegg, and actor, Nick Frost, have created a new style of British comedy. First and foremost, as indicated by the referential title, this trilogy is about parodying movie genres: first zombie, then action, now sci-fi. It is no coincidence that Hot Fuzz, whose surreal, countryside brutality powerfully recalls Robin Hardy’s 1973 thriller, The Wicker Man, includes a cameo by the 1973 film’s leading man.
Wright’s films and TV shows, particularly the first two films of the trilogy, are so beloved by movie fans and critics alike largely because of the fantastic scripts. Wright is a master of creating witty and intelligent comedies; not only impressive for how funny they are, but also for how real the dialogue and characters feel.
The comedy works on a number of levels, with subtle gags and hilarious jokes, as well as fantastic slapstick moments. The writing is, at times, extremely juvenile on a superficial level - Nick Frost’s poorly timed fart gags in Shaun of the Dead for example - , but when considered more seriously, this cleverly reflects the underdeveloped sensitivity of the films’s male leads.
The structure and the content of the script are incredibly well-thought out; nothing is incidental. Moments and comments you initially pay little attention to, later return with hilarious punch lines or a more significant meaning, requiring the films to be watched at least twice to be fully appreciated.
In these respects, The World’s End is a true Cornetto film. From the first scene to the concluding battle, the film delivers constant laughs and insightful comedy. Wright and Pegg provide a script and characters which do true justice to the finale of this beloved franchise.
A comedy and its script can only be as strong as its actors and this trilogy is full of brilliant British performers. Pegg and Frost are on top form and are both funny men that, at times, prove themselves accomplished actors. In each Cornetto film, it is the relationship between these two which really stands out and gives it heart. And, as always, they are supported by an impressive cast. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan are not pushed to the background by Pegg’s big persona; each bring personality, humour and warmth to their roles.
Wright and Pegg don’t forget to pay homage to their parent genres. Shaun of the Dead doles out as much “zom” as it does “com” and at no point does it go light on the blood, guts and cannibalism. Likewise Hot Fuzz with its extreme violence, horrific wounds and one of the longest shoot-outs you will find in a British film. These are movies made by movie-lovers; by a group of men who, like Frost’s Danny in Fuzz, probably have a room devoted to their DVD collection. They are, as a result, a film-addict’s dream.
Unfortunately, whilst TWE is a true Cornetto film in its characters and dialogue, the end product was nothing more than a mediocre sci-fi flick. Unlike Shaun and Fuzz, which are both great satires, TWE doesn’t provide anything remarkable with its extra-terrestrial story-line. And, pivotally, as much as the genre is acknowledged, The World’s End final fight feels more generic than the other two films.
It wasn’t just the genre link that disappointed either; the ending as a whole felt abrupt. Shaun and Fuzz both build up gradually from relatively light-hearted and silly beginnings to brutal, violent endings which are more action than farce. Contrastingly, the ending of The World’s End - somewhat ironically - had rather little impact. Although it too ends with a lengthy battle between good and evil, it fails to impress in the way that its forerunners did. It probably doesn’t help that the majority of casualties in TWE - unlike in Shaun and Fuzz - are machines. Watching dozens of robots get limbs and heads cut off is somewhat less dramatic than watching a man’s head explode after a church spire drops on it. The World’s End finale lacked the intricacies of Hot Fuzz and the depth of Shaun of the Dead’s quite tragic, final scenes.
Inevitable comparisons will be drawn with the other, earlier apocalyptic comedy of this summer, This is the End, but that would miss the point. TWE is a well -written, -acted and -directed British comedy which will not only saatisfy, but greatly entertain Cornetto fans. For those not eating from the same cone though, the great comedy satires of the previous two films might taste more lemon than vanilla.