Saturday, 21 September 2013

The World's End

The Thiessen brothers had the rare opportunity to go to the cinema together this week. Choices being somewhat limited, we watched The World’s End, the third film in a so-called trilogy of films which were directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and star Pegg and Nick Frost (the first two films were Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), who made the classic TV series Spaced

I cannot believe I was able to go into The World’s End cold (i.e. knowing absolutely nothing about where it was going, not even the genres associated with the film, which alone would have given too much away), but I was. I won’t say it was anywhere near as important to go in cold as it was for The Hidden Face, but I do believe it allowed me to enjoy the first half hour of the film in a way I would not have done had I known more.

The first half hour or so of The World’s End was one of the funniest and most entertaining half hours of comedy I have seen at the cinema in years. It introduces the story of five friends, growing up together in small-town England, who plan to do the Golden Mile, a pub crawl involving twelve pubs (and twelve pints) and ending at The World’s End. They fail to finish the Mile, which haunts one of the five friends for ten years, until he decides to get the gang together again for another attempt. The writing here is very sharp, with the drama as thoughtful and wise as the comedy is funny, the acting is stellar (with great chemistry between the five perfectly-cast leads) and, despite sitting in an almost empty theatre (there were four of us), Walter and I were laughing out loud every few seconds. Great stuff! 

Then the film turns an unexpected corner (unexpected for me at least). Potentially, the corner it turns could have led to an even more enjoyable viewing experience for me, because the film switches genres to one that I generally appreciate much more than comedy (and no, I won’t mention the genre, just in case there are still two or three people in the world who don’t know what it is). Unfortunately, The World’s End wastes its potential, primarily because, after turning the corner, it starts to get silly instead of clever. There are some clever moments and stimulating conversations along the way, but the silly pointlessness of the numerous action scenes gets in the way. A climactic scene involving Bill Nighy is thoroughly entertaining but an opportunity for the film to be profound as well as clever is wasted and thus the twists at the end of the film are more disappointing than satisfying.

Still, The World’s End is vastly superior to the likes of The Hangover (which has similar themes) and it saddens me that the masses fill the cinema for the latter while the former struggles to recoup its modest budget. A fun film that could have been a classic, The World’s End just crosses the line at ***+. My mug is up and I think Walter’s is as well. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I'll back that up - and underline that the witty writing and comic timing are very well done (especially in the early going as you say - Simon Pegg is rather amazing). I'll only add that for me something that was frustrating was its (presumably intentional) skill at avoiding making any point whatsoever. Unless I missed it, the movie makes certain that it deconstructs any message or moral of any kind - you simply have to take it as meaningless, mocking entertainment. Which is ok, but... Anyway, *** from me.