13 January 2014 | bob the moo
Not wholly successful but has good elements
When you're the third film in an unofficial trilogy that includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz then there is a lot of pressure on you to maintain that quality and unfortunately this film doesn't do that. There are good aspects to this comedy but not enough of it really comes together well enough to make it stand up to the previous two films. The plot here sees Gary King trying to reclaim happiness by convincing a group of his friends to revisit the "good old days" by going on a pub crawl they attempted when their lives lay ahead of them and they felt full of potential. However, when they do return to their home they feel like they have changed too much and should never have come back – but they are only half right, because they should not have come back, although it isn't them that has changed.
I like the ideas behind this film. On one hand we have a sci-fi movie which owes its debts to 1950's America while on the other we have a very British plot involving a pub crawl and someone who can't let go of the time in his life where he felt important and potent – a time which has left him behind and now appears a bit pathetic to still be trying to be the person he was rather than just moving on. This is a nice idea and it is one that occasionally goes somewhere but far too frequently it doesn't and it isn't consistently applied. It also doesn't help that Gary himself is a wholly unlikeable character; writing this type of person to work as someone we support is hard and the script never achieves it, it never consistently shows the cracks to the extent that you feel for him. Many of us will have a small part of Gary in us but the film never reaches it. It also doesn't help that the film seems to take his side at the end as well.
This gives us the sci-fi side and it does work better as an all out comedy sci-fi; the fight scenes are silly but yet well done and the action is quite engaging. That said it never feels grounded in the dreary British reality in the way that Hot Fuzz and Shaun managed to do so very well, so while it is decent, it never feels as clever or as special as the previous two films. It does have laughs and the film does have good elements so I don't think it is bad, just that it isn't really anywhere near as successful as it needed to be. The cast are mostly good but the material doesn't make the most of them. Pegg is the lead, has the toughest character and really can't make it work – not all his fault, but still. Nick Frost is better because his character is simpler and he is fun in the action sequences. Marsan, Considine and Freeman are better actors than the material they get given here – likewise the many familiar faces in support, from Brosnan down to Oram, although they do OK.
The World's End is not a bad film and if you liked the previous films then you'll be more likely to find things to enjoy here – but chances are you'll still feel a little disappointed as the aspects that made the previous films work so well don't really come together with this one.