Starring – Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan
The final part of my look at the Three Flavours Cornetto sees me take in the latest release from the Pegg/Wright/Frost trio; The World’s End. So far the trilogy has served us horror comedy stories based on zombies and murderous village folk, however the final instalment deals with aliens, or clones…..erm, possibly robots. I’m not entirely sure.
Pegg stars as Gary King, the once leader of a group of teenagers living in Newton Haven. Gary never quite grew up, and always dreamed of leading his ex-cohorts along The Golden Mile, a trail of 12 pubs situated in their home town, starting with The First Post, and finishing with the appropriately titled The Worlds End.
Now pushing 40, Gary decides to gather the troops, all of whom have gone their separate ways and created succesful lives for themselves, to once again attempt the drinking challenge that they failed when they were teenagers.
Having never matured, and causing some form of emotional and physical damage to each of the group when they were younger, Gary is not welcomed with open arms, but after some convincing they all return to Newton Haven one last time. After visiting a few of the public houses, they soon realise that the residents of Newton Haven are not quite the same as they remember, and have actually been replaced with clones. Desperately wanting to leave, the group are reluctantly driven on to complete the challenge by Gary, who wants to consume one pint in each pub, even with the impending doom.
I have already waxed lyrical about the on-screen chemistry of Pegg and Frost in previous reviews, and that does remain here, however it doesn’t work quite to the same effect. Partially due to them being two members of a group of friends, rather than a semi-isolated pair within the group, but also is in part due to the characters they are assigned.
Pegg’s Gary is anarchic, caring about nothing and nobody other than himself. As a character, it’s the perfect protagonist for this story, however Pegg just doesn’t fit the bill. Whilst he is a tremendous comedy actor, one with a good range of roles in him, this isn’t his best performance, feeling forced the whole way.
As for Frost, who plays Gary’s ex-best friend Andy, his performance does have some decent parts, however playing a teetotal straight-laced adult who is tired of his ex-friend’s antics, does restrict him. When I think of Frost’s best performances to date, they are usually a combination of anarchy and immaturity. Whilst it can’t be said that he is poor in this, it just feels a waste of his talents, and arguably he would have been more fitting in the role of Gary.
Similarly Considine is far underused as his character has none of the intensity we have come to love him for. In fact, the only two who manage to make a good account of themselves are Freeman and Marsan, the remaining members of the adult group.
Rosamund Pike does a decent job as the love interest, although it’s a role that is somewhat unnecessary, whilst Brosnan, the second Bond to appear in the series, is good but his cameo is far too short to really make any impact on the story.
The actors shouldn’t take the full blame of this, of course. The characters aren’t as strong as we have seen in the previous films, and neither is the writing. Whilst there are still flashes of the Pegg/Wright DNA in the script, the witty banter and dialogue is just nowhere near as funny, nor does it have the same fizz we have come to expect from this team.
Wright’s direction is still up to scratch, it should be said, displaying his usual array of techniques, and he has put the larger budget he has been handed for The Worlds End to good use, with good special effects and action that we haven’t seen so far in the series.
In fact, the action displayed is probably my favourite thing about the film. The fights display a certain realism as the “middle-aged” men brawl with the onslaught they are faced with using special moves or martial arts, however given the nature of their opponents, it is blended with en element of comic book / graphic novel design.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the soundtrack. Only being a few years younger than these guys, and living in England, most of the tunes were also important to me when I was growing up, and so each song gave me a real sense of nostalgia.
The story, direction and music are real positives, which are sadly undermined by the weak characters, dialogue and lack of humour. Whilst there are moments of comedy gold, these are spaced (geddit?) too far apart, with the rest of the funnies feeling too forced.
It’s may be a cliché, but most trilogies tend to have a good first film, followed by a better, darker second film, and finish limply. But just because it’s a cliché, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, and sadly The Three Flavours Cornetto sticks to form, as The Worlds End fails to live up to its predecessors, and although it isn’t a bad film, it could have been so much better.
Rating – 3.5 out of 5
Did you know? The fight scenes were coordinated by Brad Allen, who is a part of Jackie Chan’s martial arts directors team. Fancy that!