The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The World's End | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The World's End

Five middle-aged friends return to their hometown for a pub crawl only to uncover the town's dark secret.

Directed by: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Pierce Brosnan, Rosamund Pike

Gary King (Pegg) checks himself out of a rehab clinic and tracks down his four old schoolfriends, Peter (Marsan), Oliver (Freeman), Steve (Considine), and Andy (Frost), convincing them to return to Newton Haven, a provincial town where the five men grew up, for another attempt at "The Golden Mile", a pub crawl taking in 12 establishments, which they failed to complete back in the summer of 1990. Once there, the men quickly come to realize King is suffering from depression issues and is still attempting to live his life as though he were 17. The men decide to call off the venture but an encounter in a pub bathroom with a gang of youths reveals the dark secret of Newton Haven.
In 2004, the trio of director Wright and his leading men Pegg and Frost were launched into the mainstream with the surprise hit 'Shaun of the Dead' a spoof-come-homage to the zombie films of George Romero. Just as Guy Ritchie's 'Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels' spawned a raft of terrible low budget British gangster flicks in the late nineties, Wright's film seemed to lead every UK film-maker on a budget to churn out a series of unwatchable imitations. I could count on one hand the number of successful horror-comedies ('An American Werewolf in London' still the watermark) but that didn't prevent the likes of 'Lesbian Vampire Killers' or 'Strippers Vs Werewolves' being unleashed on the public.
There comes a time in many a director's career when their own films begin to blend in with those of their imitators. With 'The World's End', that time has arrived for Wright. Were it not for the big name (in the UK at least) cast Wright has assembled, and a degree of technical polish, there's not a lot to distinguish this from the sort of movie Danny Dyer seems to star in every other month.
The shame about 'The World's End' is that if the sci-fi and comedic elements were removed, this could have been a really touching drama about how males deal with depression. The first 45 minutes managed to reel me in, with Pegg's Gary King a character we rarely see dealt with in this way. So many comedies ask us to root for the man-child but Wright and Pegg attempt to approach this subject in a more honest way, similar to Rick Alverson's 'The Comedy'. Then, in the second act, the sci-fi comedy plotline kicks in and the movie turns into just another bad UK comedy, one that would certainly go straight to DVD without such names attached. The gags aren't funny, the set-pieces are repetitive and quality actors like Freeman, Considine and Marsan are wasted.
Gary King is a character who seems to be stuck in the early nineties but, ironically, the same accusation could easily be aimed at Wright. He seems to have been aping the horror movies of that time ('Army of Darkness', 'Brain Dead') for his entire career and the joke's worn thin. Like his main character, Wright needs to move on.

Eric Hillis