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.