The World’s End, in the end, feels like two separate experiences. The first half feels like a Mike Leigh film on steroids, with characters driving the plot and comedy coming out of unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable places. The second half is a different story altogether.
Without giving away anything more than can be seen in the promotional material for the film, the second half of the movie is pure science fiction fun. The ending of the film seemingly comes out of nowhere – that is, if you can’t spot the pattern early on.
Written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), the film follows five friends as they return to the small village where they all grew up in order to complete a pub crawl that they failed 20 years earlier. Of course, once they arrive there, they realize something is amiss, and it’s not just their friendships.
The film definitely holds up to the first two in the trilogy, which is unofficially dubbed the “The Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy,” referencing the popular ice cream cone and it’s signature flavors present throughout each of the films. The film once again brings the whole band back together: Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the screenplay) as the indomitable Gary King, Nick Frost as his aloof and disinterested sidekick Andy Knightley, and Bill Nighy as a beam of light.
This film, like the others preceding it, brings back the usual cast of supporting actors and running gags that are sure to make any fan of the series giggle with delight. Pegg does some of his best work here as the delightfully self-involved Gary, self-titled leader of the group, despite being the only one who has not gone on to bigger and better things. It is a guarantee that anyone who sees this movie will know at least someone like him, and love him or hate him, you feel sorry for him.
Also starring are Martin Freeman as Oliver, Paddy Considine as Steve, and Eddie Marsan as Peter. Anyone who has seen the 2008 film Happy-Go-Lucky will recognize Marsan as an actor particularly adept at irascible and unpleasant characters, so he deserves some much needed credit here as a shy and almost loveable man just happy to be along for the ride.
What is of real credit to the filmmakers is that even when the film turns into a sci-fi doppelganger of the first half, it still puts effort into making sure it keeps viewers involved in the characters. Even when it seems like the stakes are growing higher and higher around them, the thing we care about the most stays within them and their maturation. We still care whether they get where they’re going, regardless of whether there are any robots.
Written by: Gordon Cook