Gary King (Simon Pegg) reunites with his childhood friends Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan) and Steven (Paddy Considine) in the hopes of finally finishing the epic pub crawl in their home town, that they failed at 20 years ago. Of course, everything is different when the gang returns to Newton Haven, but what they don’t realise is, just how different everything is.
The World’s End is the final film in the Cornetto Trilogy, created by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright. Shaun of the Dead (Strawberry Cornetto) took on the zombie myth, Hot Fuzz (Classic Cornetto) was a pastiche of the buddy cop movie and now, The World’s End (Mint Cornetto) takes on the alien film… to a degree.
To describe The World’s End as simply an alien movie would be to do the film a disservice. Yes, there are aliens in the film, but they are not necessarily the main villain of the piece. Nostalgia rules the day here, and is certainly the force that has governed much of Gary’s life. Gary’s nostalgia mixes with that of the filmmakers; their nostalgia for their youth, Spaced and the other two films in the trilogy.
Simon Pegg, once again, is the leader of the cast of characters, but Gary King is not the likeable slacker or the aloof, overachieving cop. Instead, Gary is a man child forever longing for the glory days of old, and Pegg allows his character to make jokes that don’t always land, and references that his friends don’t get; they’ve all moved on, leaving Gary stuck in the past. However, there are plenty of indicators that this is all a front for Gary and his is hiding something much darker.
Nick Frost as Andy is not the friend to Pegg’s character that we might expect; old friendship led to resentment, and Frost’s character is the mature adult that Gary is not. Martin Freeman plays a much more uptight character than we are used to seeing, and does well, Paddy Considine provides more tension in the group and Eddie Marsan as Peter, is the most quiet and put upon of the ‘Five Musketeers’. As well as this, all the familiar faces are there; Mark Heap, Michael Smiley, Reese Shearsmith, David Bradley and Rosamund Pike all make appearances throughout the film.
Writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have tapped into the vein of nostalgia by posing a question to the audience; when you return to your hometown, is it different because you have changed, or the town has? As usual, the film is filled with pratfalls, one-liners and running jokes – the fence gag makes a glorious reappearance – as well as action and speedy editing. However, beats are missed now and again, and the lack of pop culture references leave the film feeling a lot looser than we are used to from the Pegg Nexus. As well as this, Wright’s signature smash cut editing style is absent, so while all the components are there, at times the film feels like it was created by an Edgar Wright fan, rather than the man himself.
In all, The World’s End is a good finish to the Cornetto Trilogy, but not quite as good as it should have been. Pitting Pegg against the rest of the cast was a bold move that has strong emotional pay off, and the film drips with nostalgia. Where it falls down however, is the lack of Wright’s signature style. Perhaps, as an audience, we are pigeon-holing the director, or perhaps this film was not the right time to change his style. The World’s End is a lot of fun and supremely silly but sadly, it doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of the trilogy. A fitting end? Almost!