By: Heather Seebach
The World's End marks the conclusion of the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (a.k.a. the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy). Director Edgar Wright and his stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back with some new friends to close a trilogy that began with Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). While not my favorite of the trilogy, this finale certainly holds its own against its predecessors with tons of laughs and a lot of heart. It is Pegg and Wright's most personal and painful film yet, and as such, quite possibly the smartest.
In this third installment, Pegg and Frost play very different roles than they have before. As Gary King, Pegg is a loud, obnoxious, selfish man-child looking to relive his former glory. Frost plays Andy, his old buddy who, after a tragic accident, dedicated his life to sobriety and corporate servitude. King drags the reluctant Andy and their old drinking pals back to their hometown of Newton Haven to finish a notorious 12-pub bar crawl. Along the way, they discover the town has been taken over by something not-of-this-world.
The Cornetto films respectively tackle the holy trinity of genre films - horror, action, science fiction - and collectively represent the maturing of your average modern man (like Pegg). Shaun was geared toward a generation in its 20s or younger. Face it, zombies are the horror sub-genre most accessible to juveniles. Meanwhile, Hot Fuzz was more for grown men who love brainless action movies. The World's End, which draws upon classic sci-fi like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is Wright's most mature film yet. The lead actors have grown up with this trilogy, and so have their characters. Problems like getting your girlfriend Liz back or being relocated to a new job have been replaced by mid-life crisis and the pain of lost youth.
As such, this third installment beautifully closes the book on Wright's bittersweet coming-of-age-and-beyond trilogy that has spanned nearly a decade. It can get pretty heavy, touching on topics like bullying, depression, alcoholism, and suicide. Consequently, World's End is notably more sad than the previous two, but still so damn funny. Pegg's protagonist Gary King is simultaneously the funniest and most tragic thing about the film. In fact, the whole movie is a metaphor for Gary's personal journey, utilizing science fiction elements as they were always intended - to reflect human problems.
Pegg and the entire cast are great at being both sympathetic and hilarious. And fans of Edgar Wright's work can look forward to numerous cameos from Spaced and Cornetto alumni. Keeping in-step with the previous two films, this sequel is full of cyclical jokes, cult film homages and witty one-liners. Upon second viewing, you will discover a LOT you probably did not notice before because, much like the other movies, this one is loaded with clever easter eggs and parallels. Furthermore, Wright brings back his signature style that had defined this trilogy especially. There is also some new flair all its own, including fight scenes that are a bit too hyperactive and digitally-enhanced for my taste.
Perhaps it is the emotional weight of The World's End, but something about it cannot elevate it beyond my least favorite entry of the trilogy. That does not say much, considering the entire threesome is brilliant, especially when viewed collectively. It may not be my favorite, but it is quite possibly the strongest and smartest of the three. This final installment is a funny, heartfelt, and surprising came-of-age tale. It reminds us that the past may shape us but the future is worth fighting for.
If you saw the film, check out my comprehensive (and spoilery) breakdown of The World's End, including references, metaphors, and easter eggs you may have missed!