In a summer plagued by rejected blockbusters, one film is the cure. “The World’s End” appropriately ends summer flicks on not only a high note, but the highest note of any film this summer. Fanboy-fantastic Brit director Edgar Wright concludes his “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy — also including “Shaun of Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” — with an epic “outro” that brings Earth to its knees in this hilarious visual spectacle.
If you’re unfamiliar with Wright’s films, he’s known for his work with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. First, this ultimate “bromance” took on zombies, then they were cops in a picturesque villa, and now alien robots interrupt their bro-union pub crawl. Gary (Pegg) never grew up, instead replacing the nine-to-five and family with AA meetings. After failing the 12 Steps, Gary decides to get the band back together for one final crazy night in their home town, Newton Haven: 12 pubs, 12 pints, ending at The World’s End. After a few lies and some strategic planning with disenfranchised friends — Andie (Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Steven (Paddy Considine) – they hit the town, despite Andie’s reservations and newfound sobriety.
Remember when you visited your hometown and everything felt similar but somehow off? That’ll happen when robots replace all your own friends, enemies and bartenders. A Stepford Wife has nothing on these glowing-blue-eyed terrors with heads that easily pop off. But when this evil force reveals itself after around 40 minutes of magically dry British wit, the best plan is to finish the pub crawl with the robo-burbanites none the wiser.
“World’s End” further proves Wright earned his reputation as one of the most promising young filmmakers. Four feature films (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” in 2010 as well) and he shows no signs of producing a dud. This even makes his recent association with Marvel’s “Ant-Man”, premiering after “The Avengers 2”, far more exciting than most superhero projects. He knows comedy — especially buddy flicks — but his films are visually stunning as well. Amidst countless blockbusters roughin’ it with their $150 million-plus budgets, $20 million feels like little more than the marketing cost or an A-lister’s salary, not the total receipt of this instant classic (Michael Bay eat your heart out). Luckily, great filmmakers pull off miracles without Hollywood’s complete weight.
Of all Wright’s films, “World’s End” is perhaps the most stereotypically British in humor and aesthetic. Rather than jump right into a major conflict, our five friends meander through the town, allowing us a plethora of banter and great character moments. This one places genre expectations on its head, merging comedy, science fiction and a dash of thriller. But that’s the benefit of the newer generation of filmmakers raised on the classics: they love so many amazing films and can’t help but pay homage to all of them in a two-hour timespan.
The “Cornetto” trilogy relies on the relationship between Pegg and Frost. In the previous films, they were best bros or became best bros. “World’s End” tells the story of friends awry when the honeymoon phase ends. What happens when jobs and families enter the equation? For Gary, the best days remain in the past, while everyone else seems to accept their lots in life, either void of happiness or just left wanting. Family and career are wonderful things, but everyone needs some good friends, and these guys forgot that too long ago.
Pegg might be the leading star who has moved on to many other projects, like the “Mission: Impossible” and “Star Trek” films, but Frost is the real star here. As Andie, he’s a responsible and rather dry family man, refusing to drink after Gary shamed him on a previous bender. But when the robot body snatchers appear, Andie’s dry spell ends and a comedic monster emerges –– an amazing comedic monster unlike any that appears in the other films.
While always critically acclaimed, Wright’s films garner largely cult audiences — hence his rather close relationship with the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Boulevard — and that’s a tragedy for the average moviegoer who just might be tired of this summer’s below-average contributions. “The World’s End” enlivens the box office with a film that effectively defies conventions. This one has enough reel inspiration to make filmmakers reevaluate their next projects.
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