After six years and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the interim, Edgar Wright has returned to his Cornetto Trilogy to cement his place as the master of genre parodies. I’ve been a fan of his work since Spaced and since he transitioned to film, Wright has remained one of my favorite directors. While I loved both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, some felt the later was lacking. While he had nothing to prove to me, can The World’s End live up to their lofty expectations of a genre parody from the man who brought us Shaun of the Dead?
What happens when you peak in high school? Your friends move on with their lives and you just sort of live yours. Unfortunately for Gary King, that life has one spectacular day that, while beautiful, left one dangling bit of unfinished business, the golden mile. Twelve pubs across his hometown of Newton Haven ending with The World’s End. Gary just has to convince his now estranged friends to join him on his quest to redeem his glory days, without actually telling them why he wants to do it. When the old gang gets to their hometown, they find that robot aliens have invaded and are taking over Stepford Wives/Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style.
This isn’t about them trying to save the world either, it’s about survival for everyone but Gary, he just wants to finish the golden mile and make it to The World’s End. It’s difficult to say whether it would have been better or worse for Gary to have to properly confront his childhood friends with or without an invasion getting in the way. The invasion is essentially window dressing to a plot about confrontation and maturity, and that’s why the movie succeeds so well. The main problem with genre films is not the plot, but the characters, and that’s what Edgar Wright is so good at properly developing.
I may not completely understand why some people found Hot Fuzz lacking, but I would find it hard to believe that they would also find The World’s End as well. Gary King may not be as easily relatable as Shaun, but everyone knows a Gary King. Everyone has that friend who peaked in high school and wants to bring his friends down to that level. I was surprised by and must applaud Wright’s ability to give us such an unlikeable, yet relatable main character. Gary King is the glue that holds The World’s End together and prevents it from just being Shaun of the Dead at the end of the world.
The World’s End proves that not only does Edgar Wright know what makes a good genre movie tick, but he can deconstruct and ridicule them, while still making an incredibly respectful and quality film of that same genre. While you won’t laugh as uproariously as in what you would expect from a comedy, there are laughs to be had and a fantastic story to be told. This is easily the best of the Cornetto Trilogy and Wright’s best film yet. Bring on Ant Man.
In Theaters: August 23, 2013
Runtime: 109 min
Rating: Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references.
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Distributor: Focus Features
Official Site: http://www.focusfeatures.com/the_worlds_end