I have seen “The World’s End” twice now. It is that good. When I reflect on summer 2013 a few months from now I might consider it the best of the bunch. The budget of this film is only a fraction of what movies like “Man Of Steel” and “Pacific Rim” costed to make yet it is invested with way more emotional depth and entertainment value. It is amazing what can be done when you focus on creating an original story as opposed to a remake, prequel or a sequel. It must be an amazing feeling to free yourself from the constraints of cliches and just let your imagination pour in to a story.
“The World’s End” is directed by Edgar Wright, who also wrote the screenplay with Simon Pegg. I can only imagine the nights they spent creating this story about a group of five friends who try to recreate an epic pub crawl from their youth and running in to an alien invasion. But instead of abandoning the story in favor of relentless action and mayhem, they stay true to the characters and use this to fully explore their lives and personalities. What a wonderful movie this is.
As in “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”, this movie isn’t really about the genre elements. In “Shaun Of The Dead”, the characters didn’t really even notice a zombie uprising and in “Hot Fuzz”, it was only in the third act that they realized they were in an action flick from the ninties.
Here the characters are a little older and have had some experiences that have torn them apart as a group. Pegg stars as Gary King, a man in his forties who has never truly grown out of his teens. His home town of Newton Haven is a picturesque village that contains a series of twelve pubs nicknamed the Golden Mile. Each joint has a fantasy name such as The Famous Cock and The Two Headed Dog. They all culimate in The World’s End Pub. Gary and his friends failed to make it all the way through but still remember the night as legendary. Gary decides to track down his estranged friends and convince them to try it again as adults.
The group consists of Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost). Andy and Gary have not spoken for man years after an incident that comes to light late in the movie. They have all grown up, gotten married and are wrapped up in their careers. Needless to say they are not too excited to drink twelve pints of beer in one night but they are all convinced by Gary.
When they arrive in their home town they are immediatly struck by how muted the town has become. Everyone seems amazingly perky yet dumbed down and nobody seems to recognize them. As the drinking goes on the boys come to the realization that most of the towns people have been replaced by alien robots. This revelation happens during a brawl in a bathroom that results in a teenagers head popping off like a doll and the blue ink inside splattering everywhere. From there the film becomes a sort of cross between “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and a John Carpenter film.
Amazingly they guys decide to continue with the pub crawl as stopping now would attract a lot of attention. This involves drinking way past their limits providing them with drunken insights in to what is really going on.
Now in the hands of an other director this might of been a recipe for disaster but Wright and Pegg keep the characters real and allow them to stay themselves as the situation grows out of control. It is always funny to me when seemingly level headed people are faced with an outrageous situation. It is even more entertaining when it is portrayed by British actors as they have perfected the art of the disbelieving stare.
The action scenes are wildly inventive and reminded me a bit of Jackie Chan movies from his golden era. Nick Frost in particular shows a physicality that I did not know he possessed. The brawls are full of gooey ink flying around, bar stools and bodies crashing through the air. The special effects are rather awesome, esspecially when body parts pop off like pieces of a Barbie doll.
It is amazing to me that audiences don’t take to these types of films more often. Are we so programmed to see franchise movies nowadays? It is almost like general movie goers have become the robot beings in this film. They have been programmed to think that mass destruction and super hero origin stories are the only thing worthy of making a trip to the cinema. Doesn’t anyone want originality anymore?