As the final piece in Simon Pegg’s, Nick Frost’s and Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy,” The World’s End has a lot to live up to. It follows a six year gap after the hit action comedy Hot Fuzz, and it’s been almost a decade since the zombie parody Shaun of the Dead. It definitely contains the much needed recurring elements and an interestingly absurd twist that makes it a Pegg/Frost and Wright film. But World’s End unfortunately doesn’t seem to reach the same scale of epic that made the prior two into modern cult classics.
The World’s End follows very lightly in the footsteps of the 2011 Pegg/Frost science fiction collaboration film Paul. Also, it might just be Martin Freeman, but the film is quite reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Bill Nighy voices the ‘Big Lamp’ and you half expect Marvin the Robot to crop up somewhere. There is definitely a nod of some sort here.
The film follows Pegg as alcoholic, washed up forty-something year old Gary Knight, trying to recapture his youth by completing the infamous ‘Golden Mile’ pub crawl that he never finished when he was eighteen. To recapture it he enlists (or swindles) the original group of ‘The Five musketeers,’ Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine and Nick Frost, all whom have grown up with successful careers, wives, children and houses. David Bradley, Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike all make lengthy appearances. (After you see the film, you may never be able to look at Pierce Brosnan the same again.) They go back to their hometown, Newton Haven, and reluctantly join Knight in a pint at each of the twelve pubs, to see if they can make it to the last one: The World’s End.
The setting is just like Hot Fuzz and Shaun: small English village and a country pub (or three, or four, or twelve). Pegg and Wright made sure to re-hire the same actors who graced us with their presence in the other two films of the trilogy as villagers. The cinematography is the same, with sharp cut scenes of repeated beer pulling reminiscent of Shaun. The film makes a promising start, but in usual Pegg/Frost/Wright grandeur it becomes absurd (not that a zombie apocalypse is that believable…but…). The twist will not be spoilt, but it is quite interesting and slightly unexpected. In a way, it almost takes away from the film; but it wouldn’t be a part of the Cornetto Trilogy without it.
All the elements are much the same recipe, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? But World’s End seems highly rehearsed, nostalgic and lacking in good lines. The film is on a different wavelength particularly in budget and characterisation. Clearly the trio were trying to recapture what the other films did. It’s not stomach clutching hilariously good, but just a chuckle here and there. It appears that the Cornetto legacy overshadows the film, and probably also our own expectations.
The film does have some great choreographed group fight scenes and the ensemble cast work relatively well together. But Pegg’s and Frost’s on screen friendship doesn’t seem to have the wholesome goodness that it usually does. It definitely won’t cultivate the same following as the two previous films, but perhaps enough for people to buy the DVD to add to their shelves. The World’s End is a crowd pleaser, but instead of being the crowning achievement to the trilogy, it has a tone of finality: a tone of, ‘If we made a decent film, the trilogy is done.’