Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Film Review: Edgar Wright's The World's End

They call it the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.  First came Shaun of the Dead in 2004, a genre satire taking on the zombie film, and the best damn rom-zom-com out there.  Next came Hot Fuzz in 2007, a satiric take on the cop buddy genre, and now, in 2013, comes The World's End, a satire on aliens and the oh-so popular end of the world scenario.  They by the way - the ones that call these three films the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (or the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy on occasion) - are Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost.  All three films are directed by Wright, written by Wright and Pegg, and star Pegg and Frost.  All three films are also quite subversively brilliant, are possibly three of the finest satires in all of cinema, and quite cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs hee-larious.  Oh, and the reason for the trilogy nickname is because a different flavour of Cornetto ice cream is used in each film, each symbolizing each film's theme (strawberry for the blood and guts of Shaun of the Dead, original blue flavour[??] to represent the blue of the police in Hot Fuzz, and mint chocolate chip for the aliens of The World's End).  But really, the trilogy is merely a marketing ploy (not even named a trilogy until someone pointed out to Wright that he did indeed use two different Cornetto ice cream references in his first two films) and is only mentioned here because this critic gets a big kick out of such things.  Otherwise, these three films are no more a trilogy than Antonioni's Trilogy on Modernity.  How's that for some name dropping?  Anyway, I digress.  Let us move on to just what this damn movie is about anyway.

The End of the World is a fast paced, even faster quipped action comedy about a group of forty year old former high school buds, who are brought back together by their ne'er-do-well pack leader Gary King, in order to perform "The Golden Mile" a pub crawl consisting of a dozen pubs, culminating at a pub called, yeah, you got it...The World's End.  While the other four ex hooligans have grown into responsible adulthood, Gary is still trying to live past glories as a grown child-man.  Of course things get a bit hairy when these (mostly) reluctant pub crawlers come back to their home town to perform the aforementioned "Golden Mile" only to find it may have been taken over by aliens, a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Of course hilarity ensues, and being that it is Wright, Pegg, and Frost, said hilarity is of the wryest, yet most maniacal set.  With allusions to many past films and such (the official poster is a take-off on a similarly-themed 1977 b-movie called End of the World), and a slew of self-referential inside jokes that range from the five lads all having courtly names (with surnames of King, Knightley, Prince, Page, and Chamberlain) to the names of each of the twelve pubs associating themselves with the actions that take place there (at the Crossed Hands the boys get into a fight, at The Mermaid, they are lured by evil women, etc), Wright's film is on equal par with the previous two - maybe even above par.

The real revelation of the film, other than the amount of growth Wright and Pegg have had as writers, from parody to satire to genuine classic-styled filmmaking, is the central performance of Pegg himself.  Frost, as well as costars Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman (Bilbo himself), and Rosamund Pike, all do wonderful jobs with their parts, but it is Pegg, in his black trenchcoat-clad, Sisters of Mercy t-shirt-wearing best, who goes above and beyond anything this critic has ever sen him do before - and considering how much I have enjoyed the guy in the past, that is saying a hell of a lot.   After a carer made out of playing nice guys (well, for the most part) Pegg now takes on the role of a self-centered and quite damaged asshole, though a self-centered and quite damaged asshole with an inevitable heart of, well maybe not gold, but at least some sort of lesser precious metal.  Pegg plays this role to near perfection (I know if I had an Oscar ballot, his name would surely be written as one of my Best Actor choices) and even though his filmic friends are sick and tired of his antics, I would do "The Golden Mile" with Gary King any day.   And then we have the film's finale.  I am not prone to give anything, but I will say this - it is freaking brills, baby! And Pegg keeps it going all the way to...well, to The World's End. 

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