Film Review: The World’s End

Gary King’s (Simon Pegg) never did quite complete the ‘Golden Mile’, a 12 stop pub crawl in the sleepy village of Newton Haven ending up in The World’s End, but now he’s getting his old group of friends back together to finally complete the crawl. However, there’s something not quite right about the residents of Newton Haven, and not only do they put Gary’s quest at risk but also the very existence of the human race.

Since being released in 2004, Shaun of the Dead has become somewhat of a cult hit. Hot Fuzz then followed in 2007, which although still very good, didn’t quite hit the highs of its predecessor. Now Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have released the final part in what is dubbed the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ and the stakes have been raised significantly.

The World’s End is bigger and bolder than the previous two films in just about every way. The central cast is larger (or stays around for longer), the special effects are more grandiose and it’s probably expected to pull in significantly more money, too. But all of this does somewhat detract from what made Shaun of the Dead so loveable. Shaun felt like a few guys just throwing ideas together, much like their equally-loved TV show Spaced, but a much of The World’s End feels a little too forced, like they’re trying just a bit too hard.

Now that’s not to say it’s not a good film and that I didn’t enjoy it, because it is and I did, but too many of the jokes miss their mark, and when you know you should probably be laughing, more often than not a slight chuckle is the best you get. Sometimes it’s brilliant but it’s just a little too inconsistent. It seems they’ve gone with the attitude that if you throw enough jokes then enough will stick. And they do, but only just.

Where the film does improve on both Shaun and Fuzz is with the depth of its characters. Pegg’s Gary King has a pretty substantial backstory, of which all of other characters (particularly Nick Frost’s surprisingly straight-laced Andrew) are an integral part. Each of the other characters has their own little side story going on, but it’s as a part of Gary’s larger story arc that they really matter. Unlike those around him, Gary hasn’t grown up, and none of his ‘friends’ even really like him that much. He’s both an entertaining and a pitiful character; there’s much more to him than either of Pegg’s previous incarnations as Shaun or Nicholas Angel.

And it really feels as if the three writers have put a lot of love into the film. There’s plenty of lovely little touches that catch your eye and likely plenty more that will only surface after a few rewatches, which is one of the great things about all three films in the trilogy. They really do feel like films made by film fans, and The World’s End is no exception to that.

Perhaps it was because I was expecting too much, but The World’s End does feel like slight disappointment. I still had fun with it, and in some ways it’s a more developed piece of work that either Shaun or Fuzz, but it does lack just a little originality and spark. Just as similarly-named apocalyptic comedy This is the End is a joke starting to wear thin, The World’s End unfortunately feels a little the same.

3 and a half pigeons

3.5/5 pigeons

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34 thoughts on “Film Review: The World’s End

  1. Great work, I certainly echo your thoughts. One of the biggest issues I had with the film is the seeming lack of empathy anyone has with the ‘death’ of some of the cast. In Shaun you could see how hard it hit losing someone; here it’s forgotten about almost immediately.

  2. filmhipster says:

    That’s unfortunate that it doesn’t hold up to Shaun or Fuzz. Still, I gotta see this!

  3. Sadly I felt the same way 😦
    Good review 😀

  4. ianthecool says:

    That’s too bad. I just rewatched Shaun of the Dead and found it better than I remembered.
    I got the sense in the trailer that this might have been a better movie with just the pub crawl and no killer robots. Did you get that sense from the movie?

    • I definitely reckon Shaun of the Dead is one of those films that gets better after a few watches. Maybe it’s the same with this.
      I think just having the pub crawl would have made an interesting film but it would have been a much different film. The robots worked well enough but I actually found the script a little laboured to be honest. It wasn’t as witty as I was expecting.

  5. 70srichard says:

    We don’t get it for almost a month. I scanned your review trying to avoid spoilers, it looks like I should modify my expectations a little and then I will enjoy it more. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. keith7198 says:

    Solid review! I know a lot of people have been anxious for this movie. But I’m seeing a lot of reviews that seem a little “blah” regarding it.

  7. ruth says:

    Great review Chris! I kinda get the feeling this wouldn’t be as good as Shaun or Hot Fuzz but I’d still rent this because of the cast. I do love Hot Fuzz especially because of Timothy Dalton though 😀

  8. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I enjoyed Edgar Wright’s previous work and I was looking forward to this one. Looks like I’ll have to lower my expectations.

  9. The Phage says:

    See, I think I enjoyed this more because I really didn’t enjoy Hot Fuzz. So anything remotely approaching Shaun once again was a success in my books. I think Simon Pegg’s dislikeable King is the reason so many people haven’t fallen for this movie. He’s not the normal loveable lead… and I quite like that to be honest.

    • I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hot Fuzz in all honesty, I’ll probably rate it the same as this, whereas Shaun is just brilliant. I didn’t mind Pegg’s character in this at all, I thought he was quite interesting. It was the script I had the biggest problem with, I just didn’t think it was that funny and was trying a bit too hard to be so.

  10. Popcorn Nights says:

    Shame to hear it’s not quite there, but enough positives that I’ll probably check it out on DVD. I really enjoyed both Shaun and Hot Fuzz and was a massive Spaced fan (still am, I guess), so I feel like I owe them a viewing even if reviews are mixed.

    • Definitely worth a watch, Stu, particularly if you’re a big fan of their stuff. It just didn’t feel as witty or fresh as their other stuff. Still a decent watch though and some people have really liked it, so you may well do, too.

  11. lauren says:

    Great review! Completely agree with your post.

  12. table9mutant says:

    Great review. And very spot-on as always! (I think you said similar of my review – not had a chance to reply to any of the comments yet!). Yes, it was the depth of Pegg’s character that made me go for this one more than Fuzz, although the overall “invasion” story doesn’t quite work.

  13. Ben says:

    Much preferred this movie when it was about the characters coming back together instead of about the invasion. When the invasion started, the movie really lost its spark and creativity.

  14. Mark Hobin says:

    One thing that is never really explained is why the gang continues to press on visiting every pub when it’s clear doing so could cost them their lives. You’d think at some point they’d just make a run for it. Also the climatic scene with the “talking lamp” goes on for way too long. That scene kind of drags. However, I did laugh a lot throughout the film. Perhaps not as much as the other two films in the trilogy, but more than I would with the average comedy. There are a lot of hilarious one-liners. I enjoyed this, overall.

    • I think they try and explain that by saying they’ll look too suspicious if they try and do a runner so they might as well carry on. Pretty weak though, I agree. I did enjoy this though, make no mistake about that, but I was a little disappointed.

  15. Nostra says:

    Out of the three I have to admit that this is my favorite one. Did you notice the cars in the background when they are in the town were always Amperas? Sometimes there was a parking lot and there were at least 3 of them parked. Guess the robots all drove the same vehicles.

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