If you follow us here at Free4Geeks.com through our Free For All podcast, you’ll know that I love director Edgar Wright. Just how much? Well, when we counted down our top five directors in Hollywood, Wright ended up as my number three overall. His short-lived British series Spaced was unique and entertaining, And his feature films are some of the best works of comedy in the past decade. From Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (more on them in a second) to the frantic and stylish Scott Pilgrim vs the World, it’s easy to pick out an Edgar Wright film, as his style and editing are among the fastest paced in the industry.
With the release of this summers The World’s End, Wright is once again teaming with his Spaced/Shaun/Fuzz cohorts to complete what has been lovingly dubbed The Three Cornetto Trilogy. This time, Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote this film) plays the screw up who can’t keep track of his own life, Gary King. King is the poster child for clinging too tightly to your youth. Unable to move on from the best night of his life, King and his childhood friends Andy (Nick Frost), Oliver (Martin Freeman), Steven (Paddy Considine) and Peter (Eddie Marsan) return to their hometown of Newton Haven to once again attempt a legendary pub crawl known as the Golden Mile.
But, as is the case with every Edgar Wright film, things are not as simple as they seem. I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the surprise sci-fi element to this film, but sufficient to say that it’s not only hilarious but a unique twist on the body-snatcher trope. One of the most interesting parts about The World’s End is that the beginning of the film is so interesting and funny that I had actually forgotten that there even was a sci-fi twist coming. I was simply enjoying the boyhood friends being forced back together for one desperate final attempt to recapture one’s youth. From the expectation of King coming home to the sound of trumpets and a warm greeting to the crushing realization that their hometown had been overrun with corporate chains and elderly childhood friends that barely recognize them, it all felt authentic and it pays off with an engaging story.
When it all hits the fan, it’s easy to see the influence of Wrights most recent directorial effort come into play. The action choreography are shot brilliantly, and are the biggest surprise for The World’s End, just as they were in Scott Pilgrim vs The World. It’s great to see a director be able to grow through his career, and these two films should erase any doubts about Wright as he heads into his next film, Marvel’s Ant Man, as he has now proven that he gets action and how to film it.
While most of Pegg’s time on screen is spent playing up the boyhood persona of cock of the walk, he actually gives a nuanced performance with some great character moments and drama spliced between the slapstick antics. As the film progresses, King goes from the prodigal son returning to realizing that he is actually the only one of his friends who really wants to be there. Even as the world crumbles around them, he remains obsessed with completing his quest to finish the Golden Mile, dragging his reluctant friends along with him.
Additionally, it’s Nick Frost who switches up his normal routine. Unlike his performances as Ed in Shaun of the Dead or Danny in Hot Fuzz, who are the simple minded friend to Pegg’s level headed lead, Andy is the sensible one of the group. Most of the movie is spent teasing the reasons Andy hasn’t had a drink in almost 16 years, referring constantly to some accident and a night that Gary let him down, effectively ending their friendship. I thought it might be hard to see Nick Frost play a role so straight, but he pulls it off with ease, although we are still treated to the Frost of old by the end of the film, when Andy finally decides that in order to make any sense of what’s going on around him, he may as well be drunk. Frost is really the star from this point on, bringing the most consistent laughs and showing he can fight with the best of them.
With great fight scenes, hilarious antics, and a pair of stellar comedic performances from Pegg and Frost, The World’s End entered this summer season as one of my most anticipated films, and still exceeded my every expectation. While this may close the book on the unofficial Three Cornettos Trilogy, you can bet this trio will be working together again in the future and I look forward to anything they put together.