Gary King (Simon Pegg), a middle aged man-child, returns to his hometown with his crew of reluctant high school friends (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan) to recreate a pub crawl they attempted when they were 17. Little do they know that nearly the entire population has been replaced with robot duplicates bent on world domination.
The humor from the previous films is definitely there, although events play out in a slightly more serious manner than they usually do. The cast is top notch with a surprising guest spot from Pierce Brosnan. The typical Wright style is in full effect (those extreme rapid fire shots of beer being poured) and the underlying themes of coming to terms with your past mistakes and growing up fits into the other two films’ themes nicely. The characters are nicely drawn, each having their own ticks and issues to deal with (teen bullying, unspoken love, falling out of favor with a friend, asshole tendencies) and part of the fun is watching these people working out their problems while getting absolutely piss drunk.
And then the second half of the film shows up out of nowhere and ruins everything.
Seriously, The Stepford Wives robot aspect is never really hinted at outside of the townspeople not remembering who these pub crawlers used to be back in the day. Big whoop! Not much of a clue if you ask me. Simon Pegg’s character randomly picks a fight in a restroom, discovers that his opponent is a blue-blooded robot and suddenly every single character, including Nick Frost, becomes a kung-fu expert/professional wrestler. It totally took me out of the movie and killed any sense of connection I had to the characters and story up to that point. It’s sad too because I was really enjoying the film until what can only be called "the worst episode of Doctor Who... EVER" began.
It’s almost as if during the making of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Edgar Wright became hooked on filling his films with outlandish CGI, special effects and martial arts action. The World’s End feels more like it’s connected to that film that the other two in this supposed trilogy. I just didn’t see the need at all to add this completely distracting plot twist in because it really goes nowhere outside of filling the last half with non-stop chase and bizarre fight scenes. It does introduce an interesting theme of conformity for the betterment of mankind, but the way it’s all heavy-handedly worked into the script is just infuriating. And the fact that the twists keep coming and getting more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on… words do not describe how annoyed I became while watching this flick.
The performances are the one thing that holds this ridiculously overblown mishmash of gargantuan proportions together. Simon Pegg is the immature and arrogant leader of the pack and he pulls off the difficult task of making his character likable while acting like a selfish asshat for most of the movie. He’s charming and brash, but somewhat pathetic, and watching him come to realize that sometimes growing up is overrated is a highlight of the film. Nick Frost plays what is probably the most consistently funny character once he hits his stride halfway through the film as the repressed Andy. He gets all the best lines and whenever his characters lets loose it’s a blast. Paddy Considine (The Bourne Ultimatum, Cinderella Man, Pu-239) isn’t known for comedic roles, but he comes off as a natural straight man as Steven and his character is given a handful of great moments. Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: AnUnexpected Journey, Sherlock, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) isn’t given much to do that’s funny, but he makes what would be some dumb catch phrases hysterical (“W.T.F.”). It’s Eddie Marsan (Jack the Giant Slayer, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes, Hancock) who comes out of nowhere as the sad and lonely Peter and steals the show. Known for playing hardasses and villains, he turns Peter from a very cowardly and melancholy fella into a very fun ass whoopin machine that gets fits of giggles when the shit goes down. He cracked me up.
Unfortunately the lovely Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, DOOM, Jack Reacher) just randomly pops up now and then to complicate things and act as the pinnacle of a love triangle involving herself, Gary and Steven. She’s not bad in the role, far from it, it’s just that the part is written so badly and broadly that there’s not much to like. It’s sad because she’s one hell of a talented actress.
Outside of these actors and their contribution onscreen, nothing can really make up for the mess that this flick becomes, especially in the case of the completely stupefying and unnecessary epilogue. I mean, seriously?! Wright and company thought that was a good idea to go that route? It had already gone off the deep end as far as I was concerned in the finale, but this just kicked it off the ledge and headfirst into the pit of What The Fuck.
The World’s End is a complete missed opportunity to tell a simple story of friends reconnecting with each other and reminiscing about their youth over a massive quantity of alcohol. Instead what we were given is the equivalent of as if Swingers turned into a giant insect invasion flick. Nothing about the last half feels organic or is all that entertaining to be completely honest. It just turns into a rapid fire stream of special effects and goofy fight scenes.
What’s worse is that I was really looking forward to Edgar Wright’s upcoming addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the Phase III entry, Ant-Man. If The World’s End is an indication of what that flick could possibly turn out to be I am more than a little skeptical it will be on par with the other films in the series. Don’t drop the ball like you did here dude. The geek community will never forgive you.
2 out of 5