Friday, 19 July 2013

You got blue on you: The World’s End Review

In the spring of 2012, I asked Edgar Wright whether he would reveal anything about pending movie The World's End, but he wouldn't buckle.
“You are the hundredth person to ask me about that today, and I'm not about to fold now,” he laughed.
I could understand his reluctance to talk about the film. After all, who wants to spend years of their life working on a project, only to have some filmmakers come along and steal his thunder before his own movie baby was born?
Now Wright and Simon Pegg’s Cornetto trilogy has been wrapped up, and it's a mixture of curious flavours.

For me, The World’s End is a film in three parts. The first is my favourite; a love letter to growing up in the Eighties, the music of the era, and blokey friendship.
A fine time, drinking in smoke-filled British boozers which still had their own identity, and revelling in the lack of responsibility.
(I'm not a smoker, but at least it masked the smell of sweat).

Yes, there comes a time when we all have to grow up and settle down, but that does not mean we can't be young at heart. And other such well-worn cliches.
Gary King is the manchild that never moved on from his teenage years, so little wonder many blokes can't help but root for him.

Wright and co-writer/star Pegg happily have a go at boozers that turned into cookie cutter family pubs thanks to chains.
(The subtext being that even pubs have become clones of themselves.)

With old mates Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman, Pegg’s character steals the show; he touches a chord with many of us who were growing up in the 1980s.
And if he doesn't, the sound track certainly will.

One of Wright's strengths as always been in his choice of music, and he does not disappoint here.
Old classics by The Housemartins and The Sisters of Mercy to name but two, pluck the heart strings for many outside the target audience for most blockbusters, as well as unleash a leash a tidal wave of nostalgia.

Until a key scene when Gary goes into a pub toilet and strikes up a conversation with a sullen youth, this was on course to be one of my favourite films of the year.
But then it took a ’From Dusk till Dawn-style’ left turn.

Chances are you'll know by now that the English town of Newton Haven has been over run by robots.
This leads to some relentless over-the-top fight scenes which are thrilling, but after a while became a bit monotonous.

The third act is possibly the weakest. Yes, it's always good when filmmakers take a risk and try to do something a little different. And full marks to Wright and Pegg for giving it a go. But the last 20 minutes feel like they have been tagged on from another film.

Nick Frost is always good value for money, and here he is on top form - part buttoned-up executive, part Incredible Hulk.
Pegg gives us one of his best performances to date. While Hot Fuzz’s Nicholas Angel was essentially the comedy foil for Frost’s loveable idiot Danny Butterman, here Pegg really gets the chance to flex his impressive comic muscles; a fine addition to Pegg and Wright’s greatest comedy characters, Shaun and Angel.

With a stronger third act, and less repetitive fight scenes, The World's End would have been on a par with the sublime Shaun of the Dead.
However, while it's not perfect, the beauty of Wright’s comedy is the fact that it stands up to repeated viewing.
In three years’ time, when ITV2 are probably showing this every other night, I will quite happily sit through it repeatedly.
However, it's that first act that will probably gain my most attention. It hints at a film that could have been.
I would like to have seen an alternate The World's End, without all the sci-fi and a bit of the action.
Which is ironic as that is just the sort of thing the 20-year-old me would have loved.

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