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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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Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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Following a huge explosion at a Starfleet building in London, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the Enterprise crew are tasked with brining the man responsible, one of their own agents, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), to justice. However, Harrison is a much greater foe than they had first feared and threatens to bring Starfleet and the world to its knees.

If any franchise was in dire need of a reboot it was Star Trek. Beloved by many, it was starting to fade away and was on the verge of disappearing into deep space forever. 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis would be the last a lot of people would hear of it until J.J. Abrams made the franchise relevant again with 2009’s Star Trek. Now Star Trek is just as much a part of the fabric of sci-fi cinema as it once was and, whilst not without its flaws, Star Trek Into Darkness should see it stay that way for the time being.

Whilst there are still the customary money shot set pieces throughout, the film does feel a little more grounded. Despite zooming across the universe a fair few times, the story never really feels that far from home, which could, in part, be due to the obvious allegorical main plot centered around terrorism and the conflict between those who have a desire for true justice and those with an itchy, revenge-motivated trigger finger. The film is rarely short of excitement and the pacing is damn near perfect throughout, although a few too many action movie cliches and a slightly underwhelming climax is a little disappointing. Also, some of the characters’ motivations do feel a little flimsy and at times you might sometimes find yourself asking why everything is happening.

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With any reboot, it’s absolutely essential that much-loved characters are well represented and Star Trek Into Darkness takes the foundations built by its predecessor and builds on them. The relationship between Kirk and Spock is starting to feel much more developed and genuine, which is vital as neither character feels anywhere near as strong without the other. Bones (Karl Urban) feels like a an integral part of the crew and Scotty (Simon Pegg) has a significantly larger and more important role this time around. However, characters such as Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Sulu (John Cho) feel a little surplus to requirements despite efforts to find them something worthwhile to do. We also get introduced to new character Carol Marcus (Alice Eve), although it’s unclear exactly what narrative purpose she has whatsoever. Her inclusion feels nothing more than an excuse to shoehorn in a new character and provide a little more eye candy.

Then, of course, we get the new villain with his super evil name, John Harrison. Benedict Cumberbatch is suitably menacing as the one man wrecking machine, unsettling calm one minute and violently crazy the next. Despite Cumberbatch’s excellent showing, the character does feel a little underused. He seems to spend rather a long time about to do something rather than actually doing something, which does make it seem as if no-one is ever really in massive amounts of danger.

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Just like its predecessor, Star Trek Into Darkness (pretty sure there should be a colon in there somewhere) looks superb. From the Indian Jones inspired first scene on a distant planet to a futuristic London, everything looks rich, expansive and, more importantly, believable. Oh and there’s lens flare. Lots and lots of lens flare. So much so, in fact, that it is actually a little distracting at times.

With Abrams taking the helm of Star Wars Episode VII, his future with the Star Trek franchise is currently unclear. However, if he is to walk away from Kirk et al, then he has left it in good health. Star Trek Into Darkness is fast paced and fun, and if he can reinvigorate Star Wars in the same way he has with Star Trek, then it can only be good to have the two giants of sci-fi duking it out once more.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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