Friday, August 30, 2013

A Reel Review: THE WORLD'S END

THE WORLD’S END is the third collaboration between writer/director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; a successful relationship which began with the zombie comedy SHUAN OF THE DEAD in 2004 and left off with HOT FUZZ in 2007. This time around, the three capitalize on familiar themes while bringing a few twists in an effort to put together their most funniest, well-rounded, and complete adventure yet.
Twenty years after failing to complete a pub crawl, Gary King (Simon Pegg) drags his reluctant childhood friends (Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Paddy Considine) back to the town they grew up in for another go at it. As pints are downed and old issues flare up, the five stumble upon a dark and sinister secret in their hometown which threatens the entire world.

Despite all the zany comedy and witty banter in THE WORLD’S END, this is a very grown-up film showcasing grown-up themes. There is a lot of heart in this film, as Edgar Wright and his team of drunks explore the literal and metaphorical end of the world; Gary and his pals face the world’s end just the same way they are facing the end of their youth when they hit 40. Characters are very real and full of metaphor; Gary is the screwup but still in love with life, while his friends are successful in the business world but bored with life. With so much contrast between characters, there is plenty of great territory for Wright and his actors to explore. When the sci-fi element eventually pops-in, it initially feels obtrusive to the strong first act of the film, but like everything else in THE WORLD’S END, it serves a purpose and actually gives the characters motivation to handle their issues and get on with life.
Edgar Wright keeps the pacing brisk and the humor well-timed while inserting just enough drama at just the right time. Action scenes are incredible to watch and are easy to keep track of what’s going on (they were coordinated by Jackie Chan’s old choreographer). Dialogue is lightning-fast and full of wit, and you often find yourself laughing at the one-liners five minutes after they have passed; it takes that long for your own mind to catch up. There is a tremendous amount of energy in THE WORLD’S END; it’s a laugh-a-minute and an ear-to-ear grin from the opening frame.

Acting is for the most part fantastic as the entire cast seems to be having a blast. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chew up the scenery and are so much fun to watch together. Martin Freeman is his usual brilliant self, and Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine are also very good. Pierce Brosnan drops in for a decent extended cameo, while Rosamund Pike continues to be as wooden as a barstool.
The finale capitalizes on all the metaphorical goings-on, and may drag things out a little too much…but it makes sense because the film wants to live up to its title and leave the characters in their deserving places. Edgar Wright sets out to accomplish at lot in this film, and he succeeds brilliantly. THE WORLD’S END has never been more fun, or filling.


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