I was very much looking forward to The World’s End, as I have enjoyed the previous films in Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, on multiple occasions. However, my smiles began to fade as the film drew to its conclusion. Before reading on, I should mention that this review contains spoilers. Spoilers in more than one sense of the word.
The film focuses on Gary King (Simon Pegg), a banterous lout who dreams of finishing the twelve-stop pub crawl he began twenty years ago in his home town of Newton Haven. He enlists his uptight, square, middle-class friends, played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine, who reluctantly heed his requests. The comedy is sharp, though rude and incredibly funny.
However, problems arise when King is confronted by an angry teenager who drips blue ink when he is decapitated during a gruesome fight. Something is wrong with Newton Haven, but the fivesome decide to continue with their crawl. The banter is still up to par.However, by the time they reach pub number seven, something annoying happens. One of Gary’s friends explains to another’s sister (Rosamund Pike) that he has loved her for years, and says that he’s “not just saying that ’cause [he’s] had seven pints.” However, the bloke in question has actually only had six pints by this point, because they missed one out at an earlier pub. Usually, I wouldn’t be so pedantic, but a lot of the comedy in this film works because the facts are so fastidiously accurate. That was the start of a small tear in confidence that would soon grow into a huge gash. Hur-hur, gash.
It was at this point anyway that the laughs seemed to run out. When it had just been about the pub crawl, this was a laugh-a-minute movie. I hadn’t been expecting the robot element, but welcomed it as fun mystery. However, then came the long and brutal action scenes. Seeing all five of the main cast suddenly turn into fighting machines was a leap too far, but the film wanted to go further.
It seemed that Gary was determined to have a pint in each pub, going as far as to sup half full pint glasses if he was not allowed in a bar. This lead to excruciating shots of him trying to drink whilst fighting. I’d given up caring about this part of the film, and it soon became that I wanted him to finish each pint is because I knew the story wouldn’t progress without it.
At the final pub, naturally titled The World’s End, Pegg and Frost descend into a lair where the alien force has been living for a whole heap of exposition. No laughs here, the dialogue became very confusing and Gary behaving like a twat didn’t really lighten the mood. It was clear that Wright and Co. were simply trying to be clever by throwing as many things at the audience as they could, but this led to a point where I simply wasn’t laughing any more, and subsequently gave up caring about what was going on.
The main problem with this film is that it is inconsistent. I was hooting with laughter for the first forty-five minutes or so, but was stony-faced by the time it came to the end. The script could have easily done without the alien invasion; the character interactions were hilarious enough in themselves. Less is more! While the blue blooded robots were ridiculous enough, the whole exposition as to why they were there in the first place made little sense and, more importantly, was not funny at all. By the end of the film, we were in a drastically different place than we were at the beginning, in a place that didn’t seem to have some poetic irony to it or anything. I’m sure there are people out there who will love the pub-crawl-cum-apocalypse facet of this movie, but I simply feel the second half of this film was a gigantic letdown.