Beginning with 2004’s zombie romance Shaun of the Dead and continuing with 2007’s police comedy Hot Fuzz, British director Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto” film trilogy was concluded on Aug. 23 with the release of The World’s End, a tale about old friendships, rekindled loves and the pesky alien invasions that always seem to get in the way of it all.
Like its predecessors, the film boasts an ensemble cast with comedic duo Simon Pegg (Star Trek) and Nick Frost (Snow White and the Huntsman) in the lead. The story finds Gary King (Pegg), a washed-up and immature forty-something whose popularity and happiness peaked in his college years, trying to reunite his old group of friends for a bar-hopping adventure across the small English town where they all grew up. Frost stars as the ex-best friend who has grown out of his rebellious phase and found success in life, and subsequently wants nothing to do with King’s dreams of reliving adolescent adventures.
Nevertheless, through one method of persuasion or another, he and the other members of the former friend group end up joining King’s little reunion, and a night full of bars, beers and bad choices commences. However, dizziness and hangovers may not be the only things in store for the group when they find out that the residents of their hometown are not exactly human anymore. Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) and Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum) costar in this wacked-out sci-fi comedy.
After the success of Shaun and Fuzz, director Wright’s films have become infamous for taking the picturesque image of small-town British countryside life and turning it on its head, resulting in utter and bizarre insanity. As far as this formula goes, The World’s End does not disappoint. The film turns from quaint to apocalyptic at the drop of a hat, and the audience never sees it coming. This mixing of intensity and normality is what has made Wright’s films so unique and popular, and while End is not as blatantly violent as its predecessors, it is the most “out there” as far as storylines go. And seeing how the film is meant to be the conclusion to Wright’s mad trilogy, more and more craziness seems the best way to go out with a bang.
Unfortunately for End, while it does pull off Wright’s signature manic style, its script fails where Shaun and Fuzz succeeded. Most of the cast of this latest film have been a part of the two previous installments, yet their characters all seem watered down and uninteresting compared to their past performances.
Pegg and Frost especially, whose memorably humorous bromance banter formed the center of the first two films, cannot seem to reach the same levels of comedy. They give it their all in the acting department, but with a screenplay that relies on action-filled intervals rather than clever, solid dialogue, there is only so much the duo can do. All in all, without the backing of good and memorable writing, the leads are left weaponless and the supporting characters all but fall by the wayside, ultimately robbing the film of its full potential.
The World’s End is not as good as it could have been in a perfect world, but it still far surpasses several of the supposed blockbuster comedies that have been released in past few months. The story manages to surprise audience members more than once, and makes them laugh a few more times, but those few moments are the only memorable ones. Most of the film unfortunately falls into that abyssal area in between laughs, and will likely be forgotten outside of the theater.