New to DVD – 19th November 2013
Enough has changed over the last two-plus decades to make 1990 seem prehistoric. It was a full year before the world began to go online, people still used fax machines, CD singles and VHS existed, and Gary King was storming around Newton Haven with a pint in one hand, joint in the other and four devoted mates following his every action as best they could. Since then the world has become seemingly unthinkable without technology; hashtags pervade the modern landscape, movies can be made on mobile phones and the only letters anyone receives are from banks. But Gary King hasn’t changed a bit, and he still has his street cred; or so he tells himself in his AA meeting.
Gary is a sad guy, although you wouldn’t think it to look at him. Bantering around in his adolescent overenthusiasm, he is the spiritual personification of his last day of school back in June of 1990. But as he is now pushing forty, his behaviour is ridiculous and embarrassing: with four passengers in his car, he stops off at a service station to snort coke before continuing his journey. With the world collapsing all around him, he tries his best to continue his self-set drinking challenge. He talks like he’s in an advert for Super Soakers. Time really hasn’t been kind to Gary, its cruelest move being the progression from the days of Madchester, ecstasy raves and sheer carelessness towards the part of his life where it’d behoove him to have some responsibilities.
His friends have all matured however, and in this third entry in the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto’ trilogy, Nick Frost swaps in as the straight-man to Pegg’s bumbling incompetence for the first time and he’s better for it. Frost’s character, Andy Knightley, is a teetotal but aggressive lawyer, the first one in a fight and the one with the most principles. Accompanying him are Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan as the reunited gang of school friends convinced by Gary to have another swing at the pub crawl they failed in their late teens. The World’s End benefits from having a larger crew of central characters providing its humour as opposed to the concentration on the Pegg and Frost duo in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz; it allows the jokes to come easier, engendered more by character interplay as opposed to the punchline-centric earlier films.
That is not to say that World’s End actively deviates from Shaun and Fuzz. There is still the stylish editing and detailed framing that gave the Three Flavours trilogy a distinctive look, as well as the genre-bending Chekhov’s gun littered and often surprisingly violent entertainment that kept the other two returning to your DVD players time and time again. One of World‘s strongest points is that the main antagonists this time, the blanks, are practically invulnerable, able to pick up their severed limbs and detached heads to continue fighting – more worryingly, enemy forces aren’t just restricted to blanks, and the years of bad blood between these old friends manages to filter through into inter-group fights more and more as the beer flows.
References and parodies abound as per, with a particular concentration on sci-fi and that genre’s thematic techno-dread. What makes this interesting, however, is that it’s never clear whether the film’s anti-technology message is made out of pastiche or the film’s own accusations. It is also backed by a nostalgic soundtrack which you’ll love if you’re a fan of the NME: it features a host of early 90s tracks by the likes of Happy Mondays, the Stone Roses, Suede, Pulp, Inspiral Carpets, Saint Etienne and the Sundays. Many will see it as a shame that this trilogy has come to an end – after all, who in their twenties hasn’t watched the hell out of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz? – but in bettering the two films that came before it, The World’s End is nothing less than a celebratory and wholly satisfying ending.
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Studio: Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Big Talk Production
Distributed by: Universal
Released: 19th July 2013
Running time: 109 minutes