The World's End (2013)
By: Stuart Giesel on February 21, 2014 | Comments
Universal Sony | Region B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 109 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
The World’s End Cover Art
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Country: UK
This is it, the trilogy-capper from Edgar Wright (director, writer), Simon Pegg (star, writer) and Nick Frost (star) to their informally-titled "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy which started with zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead and continued with 80's action movie homage Hot Fuzz. With The World's End, Wright, Pegg and Frost have delivered a fantastic trilogy-capper that is as deliriously entertaining as its forebears and, like those films, suggests a wealth of detail waiting to be uncovered over numerous rewatchings.

Obnoxious man-child Gary King (Pegg) can't let go of the past, and he's absolutely intent on reliving the greatest night of his life with his mates, Andy (Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Peter (Eddie Marsan). Said night revolved around a pub crawl - twelve pints and twelve pubs - through the gang's teen home town of Newton Haven culminating in that final drink at "The World's End". However, much to Gary's chagrin, they never ended up finishing the pub crawl. Still, for Gary it was his finest moment, which also involved a "romantic" liaison with Oliver's sister Sam. Twenty years later, for Gary's friends the pub crawl was just another memory, because in those twenty subsequent years they've moved on with their lives: working proper jobs, being married, having kids, all the usual. However, Gary hasn't done any of this, and is determined to round up his friends and return to Newton Haven to complete the pub run they never finished. However, there are a number of obstacles in Gary's way including the falling-out between him and former best mate Andy Knightley, the difficulty that his friends all have their own lives, priorities and schedules, and the fact that Newton Haven has...changed since they left. Yes, it turns out that the citizens of Newton Haven are acting a little weird. The friends put it down to the fact that they hadn't returned to the town for so long a time, but soon enough they realise that something a lot more sinister is in the works.

To go into much detail about the plot or many of the film's highlights would be to do it a disservice; suffice it to say that The World's End isn't only a clever and sometimes affectionate look at passing into middle age, but also a glorious pastiche of alien invasion and paranoia films from the 50's to the 70's.  It's also something of a departure for Wright, Pegg and Frost when compared with their previous collaborations. It's still got many laugh-out-loud moments, but these are tempered by a more serious plot than anything found in either in Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. Gary King is insufferable; he's loud, annoying, bullying and the sort of guy who's always right regardless of evidence to the contrary. Because of his lack of prospects and his addictive personality, Gary is a man trapped in the past and unwilling to concede that his friends have moved on. The World's End says a lot about moving into middle age and having to accept that some things are best left in the past. It's certainly more sobering material than we're used to getting from the trio, and for that reason - including the frosty relationship between Pegg and Frost's characters, which is a considerable difference from their relationships in the other films - it may not be as immediately appealing as Shaun's zombie antics or the gloriously silly homage to action films that is Hot Fuzz.

Worry not, however, for there is still as much remarkably crafted material in The World's End as there ever was in Shaun or Hot Fuzz, and like those films, The World's End will undoubtedly benefit from repeated viewings, given that the script is so densely packed with throwaway jokes, in-jokes, subtle references to various film genres and films within those genres. For example, apparently the name of each of the twelve pubs suggests an event that occurs in or around the pub. Such is the care and detail that Wright and Pegg put into their scripts. It's also laugh-out-loud funny in parts, not so much as Shaun or Hot Fuzz because the tone is a little more reflective and serious this time around. But don't let that put you off - The World's End is still stuffed with pitch-perfect use of music, crazy fight scenes, wonderful (and often silly) banter, and the sort of sublime editing that fans of Wright's other films, including Scott Pilgrim vs The World, have come to expect.

The cast is uniformly excellent. Simon Pegg does some of his best work here as the infantile Gary King. Even though King is an absolute nightmare of a character with serious addiction issues, delusions of grandeur and a high degree of narcissism, Pegg plays the role sublimely, ensuring that however annoying Gary proves himself to be, he's still somehow strangely likeable despite his tendency to lie, big-note himself, ignore criticism, prove unable to read people, empathise with get the idea. Nick Frost doesn't play the huggable oaf sidekick that he did in Shaun or Hot Fuzz, and the film plays on this change of character, allowing him to gradually let loose as the film progresses, and some of that pent-up energy is unleashed to great, comedic effect. Some of Frost's moments are the best and most hilarious in the film. Providing solid support are Freeman, Considine and Marsan as the rest of the troupe, as well as Rosamund Pike as Oliver's sister Sam. They are all allowed their individual moments to shine, and more importantly have terrific chemistry with one another, ensuring that this group of friends feels legitimate despite the passage of time. Pierce Brosnan also makes an appearance as the boys' old professor. Interestingly he's now the second actor in a Wright "Cornetto" film to have played James Bond, Timothy Dalton having appeared in a memorable role in Hot Fuzz. It's just a shame Wright couldn't have persuaded Roger Moore to appear in Shaun of the Dead.

From a technical viewpoint, The World's End is outstanding. From the razor-sharp editing to the rich cinematography and the creative visual effects, this shows Edgar Wright and his crew at the top of their game. If there's one thing Wright excels at, it's precisely how to pitch and pace his films. For those who felt Hot Fuzz was a little bloated (a criticism I can understand, but one I don't share) you'll no doubt appreciate The World's End more for its clever circular structure and energetic rhythm. It also culminates in a perfect end for not only the film, but the Cornetto trilogy as a whole.

So where does this stand in the "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy? Personally speaking, Hot Fuzz will be the one I always return to, given how ridiculously hilarious and entertaining that film is, the one where I can appreciate the flaws that others see in it but not caring one whit. Shaun of the Dead will always stand tall as the second best in the trilogy, a perfectly-executed homage to Romero and other zombie films. So that leaves The World's End as the least of the trilogy, but that's by no means to its detriment. It is certainly no Godfather Part III. I see the Cornetto trilogy as similar to that other fantastic trilogy, Park Chan-Wook's Vengeance trilogy: you have the startlingly fresh and shocking trilogy-starter that announces the arrival of a major new talent (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance/Shaun of the Dead), the grandest, slickest, most flat-out enjoyable film in the series (Oldboy/Hot Fuzz) and the darker, more sobering but completely satisfying third film (Lady Vengeance/The World's End). Essentially, what we have in both Edgar Wright and Park Chan-Wook's cases are three fantastic films that form a loosely-connected trilogy by theme rather than character or plot, every individual film easily standing on their own as considerable works, but combined together means they've formed something truly special.

If this is the last film that Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost make together, then it's a great one to go out on. One hopes that this won't be the case, but given the talent of these three friends presumably means they'll be in high demand on other projects well into the future. Hopefully, unlike the principal characters in The World's End, these friends will try to recapture that old magic of their former days time and time again to great success, because that invariably means cinematic gold for the rest of us.
The Disc
The World's End arrives on Blu-Ray in a clean, handsome presentation, with the picture quality boasting excellent levels of detail, rich colours and - crucially, considering the setting - deep, flawless blacks. The action, when it ramps up, is easy to follow, and in high-def the distinctive production design and visual effects really shine. The DTS master audio is equally strong, projecting clear dialogue no matter the conditions (even when things go all apocalyptic), grunty sound effects and a propulsive, and rarely intrusive, score from Gravity scorer Stephen Price.

The disc is absolutely crammed with features. There's a brief deleted scene where Pegg moans about the lack of a mini bar in the hotel and sets off an alarm - nothing earth-shattering here.

The outtakes reel is amusing, filled with plenty of laughs, with Considine in particular proving his comedic chops. Martin Freeman pulls a lot of silly faces in this one. "Alternate Edits" are just that, alternative edits and takes of particular scenes, ground that is also covered by the similarly-themed "Bits & Pieces" feature.

"Completing the Golden Mile - The Making of The World's End" is a solid making of feature with involvement from principal cast and crew including, of course, Edgar Wright, actors Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike and Pierce Brosnan. There's lots of good behind the scenes footage suggesting cast and crew had a blast making the film.

The disc comes with a few small featurettes - "Director at Work", "Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold", "Friends Reunited" and "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" - which cover, respectively, Edgar Wright's directorial style, Pegg and Frost's chemistry (this featurette is mostly snippets of their starring roles), the main characters of The World's End, and coverage of the "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy", including how the "Cornetto" theme began. "Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World's End" is a featurette covering the film's stunts and its unique and memorable visual effects. We get a not especially interesting look at some of the film's storyboards from two key scenes in the "Animatics" feature. "Hair and Make-up Tests" is for those who are interested in looking at the cast done up in their proper costumes, hair and make-up just...standing around. "Rehearsal Footage" is just what it says, but it's mostly rehearsing the film's fight scenes and other complicated scenes rather than dialogue rehearsal. And "Stunt Tapes" shows rehearsal scenes of three key fight scenes.

Elsewhere we have...deep breath..."VFX Breakdown" where Fraser Churchill, VFX supervisor for The World's End, commentates over certain VFX-heavy scenes. "There's Only One Gary King - Osymyso's Inibri-8 Megamix" is a mix of Gary King dialogue and is...pretty pointless, to be honest. "Signs & Omens" provides a look at the twelve pubs and their distinctive signage. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright present their low-fi flipchart for The World's End, basically their initial brainstorming notes, in "Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart". There are the UK and domestic trailers for the film, as well as two trailers pitched a little differently in the "Newton Haven" and "The Man Who Would Be (Gary) King" versions. Along with TV spots, there's also an amusing "TV Safe Version" which contains scenes that have had the profanity softened for the eventual TV release. It's hard to tell whether this is a piss-take or not - some of the overdubbing and alternate wording used here is absolutely ludicrous, reaching "Scarface on TV" levels of ridiculousness. Then we have galleries and a trivia audio track.

And then, on top of all that, there are three - yes, three - separate audio commentaries. The first is a commentary with Wright and Pegg. It's always worth listening to these two talk about the intricacies of The World's End and just shows the amount of work and detail they put into the project. The second commentary is a technical commentary with Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope. This is the one for all film buffs and wanna-be directors and technical crew members out there, drier than the other two commentaries but certainly the most informative one if you're into the technical side of things. Finally, the cast commentary has Pegg, Frost and Considine give us a far less technical, but certainly much funnier, commentary on The World's End. It's by far the least illuminating of the three commentaries, but it's by far the most amusing, almost as if you were at the pub with these guys just chatting and laughing about their film.

Annoyingly, the disc starts with trailers for 47 Ronin, Oblivion, RIPD and Kick-Ass 2, which is basically just more shit you have to skip past along with the obligatory warnings. On the whole, however, this is a pretty monstrous collection of extras.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Taken on face value, The World's End is immensely entertaining stuff, filmed with the sort of skill and precision that is sorely absent these days. Look deeper and you'll find an intelligent, and funny, take on themes such as growing up, evolving as a person, addiction and the deceptive power of nostalgia. Come for the drinking, aliens and laughs, stay for the characters and subtext (and the easter eggs). As rewarding as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, if a little less accessible, The World's End is a tremendous accomplishment that will reward additional viewings, and proves a satisfying end to the "Three Flavours Cornetto" trilogy.
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