And so the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy continues, first with Edgar Wright’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, and now finally THE WORLDS END. The story is about 5 men in the town of New Haven, who in their youths went on the Golden Mile: 12 pubs for a pint of beer each in one night, but they never made it to the final pub, The World’s End. Now 23 years later, Gary King (Simon Pegg) the leader of the group, wants to band his buddies together again to redo their pub excursion and finally make it to THE WORLDS END. Only once they return they find a lot has changed about New Haven, one of them being an invasion of alien robots that have taken over citizens of the town.
The film is at times hysterically funny, and it’s interesting to watch as these guys aren’t exactly in the prime of their youth anymore. It becomes more of a quest to succeed for Gary King, as that night 23 years ago was the greatest night of his life, and somehow he doesn’t think his life will ever be complete without being able to relive that night and reach the holy grail of bars. His friends of course have all grown up, but, as Gary points out, they have become slaves to their adult lives, which is not to dissimilar to the robots that have taken over the town. One of my favorite scenes in the movie was a fight in a bathroom at one of the pubs between Gary’s friends and 5 robots that looked like teenagers. In terms of really great storytelling, the scene has a lot to say, considering these men are fighting with versions of themselves, the forms of blank empty teenagers. Thankfully the sci-fi portion of the story is well woven into the grand scheme of the movie, and the men are forced to continue their journey to not alert any other robots, and pretend to be going about their business.
My problem with the movie however was that I did find the robot story started to become long and extraneous after awhile, especially in the final moments where there is a tiresome amount of exposition trying to explain the purpose of the robots, why they had come and are doing what they’re doing. And yet because of that, I felt more and more that I was starting to lose my investment in what started as a great hysterical ride between these five guys on their journey of the Golden Mile. The robots add a lot of the extra fun to the movie, but the problem too was that once all the explanations started, the film stopped being funny. It’s a hard thing as well, because my favorite of the three Edgar Wright films, HOT FUZZ, keeps the laughs brilliantly going, and not only is it funny, it gets even funnier and more outrageous as the movie goes along. There is exposition in that film leading to the next step of what the characters are going to do to solve their problem, but that’s the thing: it actually goes somewhere that makes the characters active and leads us into the brilliant final act. THE WORLDS END actually ends the film on exposition, and it sucks the film dry by the time its over. There’s no final note for it to land on to have everybody cheering. It’s frustrating because the first and second act work so well, that by the time we get to the end the whole thing just kinda slumps.
That’s not to say THE WORLDS END is a bad movie at all. Far from it. It’s funny, and at times charming with its own human touch that made SHAUN and FUZZ work so well, it continues here with END. It’s a little gutsy for them to do this, but I like the role reversal between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, making Frost the more serious minded one this time around and Pegg being the total jack-off. Pegg is quite funny as Gary King, and it’s funny to watch Frost once he starts to lose himself into alcohol, having no choice because of the robot invasion. For a good portion of the movie, the story holds itself together, with themes about getting older and breaking out of the servitude of society and finding your own freedom as an adult. It plays on both extremes with Gary King who has no rules, and the rest of the pack who have been bogged down by the rules of society. That all changes by the films end, and the surviving characters have their slates wiped clean, a new mission in life and a place to start over. Of course, like I said, the ending would have worked better had the filmmakers continued our investment into the characters and allowed us to watch them find their way instead of having it just be explained to us. It’s not the greatest way to tell a story.
THE WORLD’S END overall is a good time, and should be seen because it does carry the charm of the previous Edgar Wright films. For such a crappy 2013 summer, this is one of the better films and a nice way to cap off the summer.