The latest offering from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost is the last film in the Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End, and it’s a blindingly brilliant finale to a trio of films that got their start on British Television. It is due to hit cinema screens in the US on August 23, 2013.
From 1999 to 2001, bright new spark’s Simon Pegg, Jessica Stevenson, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost teamed up to bring British television audiences Spaced. A comedy series about three young people who lived in North London. The show had enough quirky characters and comedic set pieces to insure that it became a cult hit. The “Brit-sitcom” was written by Stevenson, and Pegg and directed by Edgar Wright.
After the show finished Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (who are great, if not best, friends) got together to write the mega-successful Shaun of the Dead in 2004. The film was an instant hit worldwide with its hysterical look at how the British would react to a zombie apocalypse. The first in the Cornetto trilogy used a lot of the same techniques and devices that made Spaced work so well.
“Shaun” featured many regulars from the television show and it set the standard, and the bar, for the next two films. A standard that insisted that each following film:
Pay homage to a genre or sub-genre film.
Contain the winning combination of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost.
Follow the formula of “injokes” and reference the first film as much as possible and Cornettos.
Shaun of the Dead was all about zombie films and Hot Fuzz was all about cop films.
The World’s End is about alien invasion films.
It is the last of the Cornetto trilogies written by the 43 year-old Pegg and 39 year-old Wright. It follows the adventures of five childhood friends who attempt to finish an epic “pub crawl” that they did not complete when they’d just finished school.
Gary King (Pegg) opens the film with a voice over re-telling of the best night of his life as he and his four friends attempted to complete the crawl which should have ended with the lads having visited all 12 pub’s in their home town. As the voice over ends we see Gary is in an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting.
Gary’s retelling of the Newton Haven pub crawl motivates him to track down his old friends and attempt the feat again, but this time to actually finish the crawl by making it to the final pub on the list, The World’s End. Despite the fact that all his friends have grown up and moved on, Gary talks them all into participating.
But when these grownup lad’s return to their home town of Newton Haven, they find that things have changed and that they have all changed except for Gary. It turns out that Gary has never really grown up or moved on. After Gary is caught out in a lie, the group begins to break up and they start to leave the pub crawl in disgust. But before they leave the pub they find out that the town has been taken over by robots.
A lot of familiar faces from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and even Spaced pop up in the film. The main characters are Pegg, Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, and Rosamund Pike. There are cameos from Pierce Brosnan, David Bradley, Bill Nighy (as the voice of the “Network”) and the brilliant Steve Oram.
The action and dialogue, as in the first two in the trilogy, is well paced. The storyline, which is a combination of alien invasion and characters finally “growing up” is well blended and the ending was off kilter enough that is was strangely satisfying. So far critics have been unanimous with their praise of the film although it has not done quite as well at the box office as its two predecessors.
But for fans of the first two films, it is a “must see” and they will appreciate the continuing joke lines and the “in-jokes” from the first two films. The audience, when this journalist watched the film, laughed in “all the right places” and while a few missed some of the past film references they still obviously enjoyed themselves.
The film itself deviates from the first two films in the trilogy in that is shows a depth not reached before. It also changes the role models of Pegg and Frost. While the film does follow the “basic formula” of the preceeding two, it adds just enough difference in tone and substance that it comes closest to matching Shaun of the Dead for sheer brilliance.
The grand apocalyptic finale of the Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End, allowed Pegg, Wright, and Frost to end their trio of films with a bang. There are enough references to the first two films to keep diehard fans happy and enough tonal changes to sell their slight deviation on the Cornetto formula to new ones. The World’s End opens in US cinema’s August 23.
By Michael Smith