THE WORLD'S END
Review by Gordon Justesen
Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike
Director: Edgar Wright
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: November 19, 2013
“I don’t believe what I’m seeing. A man of your legendary prowess drinking f**king RAIN! It’s like a lion eating hummus.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“No, it doesn’t make sense.”
The World’s End marks the third and final installment in a trilogy that, while never fully intentional and without anything major connecting the three movies, will go down as one of the best movie trilogies in existence; The Cornetto Trilogy. The creation of director/co-writer Edgar Wright and co-writer/actor Simon Pegg, these three movies (the other two being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) took on specific movie genres and added a unique British comedic approach. Although marketed in the U.S. as spoofs, these three movies are far too clever to be labeled as such and, as director Wright himself pointed out, were never intended as such.
Where as Shaun of the Dead had fun with zombie movies and Hot Fuzz took aim at over the top action fare, The World’s End applies the same approach to that of an alien invasion story. And while the expected laughs and out-of-control lunacy that we’ve come to expect from Wright and Pegg, the human journey is a more potent factor here than it was in the previous films. And like the first two films, this is a one of a kind, flawlessly balanced cinematic package that only a genius filmmaker like Edgar Wright can deliver!
The film opens in 1990, as five close friends celebrate their high school graduation by attempting to conquer a pub crawl of epic proportions. Although plenty of brew is consumed, the crawl failed to get completed as inebriation caused the gang to miss out on the pub crawl’s final destination; The World’s End. They since went their separate ways.
23 years pass, but former leader of the pack Gary King (Pegg) has not changed one bit. In fact, the only thing that’s been on his mind in the time since is the chance to repeat the same pub crawl. More determined than ever to see this through to the lager end, Gary wastes no time in seeking out his pals from the high school era.
As expected, each of his friends has successfully moved on in life, beginning with Peter (Eddie Marsan), the wallflower of the bunch who now works for his dad’s auto dealership. Steven (Paddy Considine) now runs a successful construction business, while Oliver (Martin Freeman) is a highly competitive real estate salesman who’s never without his bluetooth. Lastly, there’s Andy (Nick Frost), who was Gary’s closest friend in school, who is now a partner at a law firm.
Having never spoken to Gary in years, they all reluctantly agree to his proposed alcohol-fueled reunion. Everyone is surprised by Andy’s participation, because a certain past event led to a bitter end for his friendship with Gary. But before long, the fab five are back in their old stomping ground of Newton Haven, which houses the 12 pubs Gary intends on conquering before the night is through.
As the crawl progresses, the guys come to learn that the neighborhood has changed quite a bit. The most notable is the fact that a few of the pubs now happen resemble each other interiorly and appear more corporate themed (“starbuck-ing”, as one character puts it). But that’s not the only major change in Newton Haven, as Gary and his “enablers” soon discover the townsfolk are all human disguised robots.
But even after making this shocking discovery, and engaging in a major fist fight with teenage robots in a bar bathroom, Gary determines to finish the pub crawl by any means. All that needs to be done to avoid suspicion from the robots, who are copying DNA from their victims, is to just blend in with them as they maneuver from pub to pub.
Having illustrated his knack for staging some amazing action set pieces in the excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright showcases the same eye catching here with some fantastic fight choreography. And each fight scene is more exhilarating than the previous, especially one where Gary is trying and failing to down his pint glass in the midst of interrupting fists. That’s a sequence that brilliantly echoes some of Jackie Chan’s classic work.
The one element of the film that seems to polarize many is its conclusion which, I have to say, is a most unexpected one. But I downright applauded it because it’s a conclusion that really defies convention and expectations. And when you consider what the main characters have overcome, the very final moments are quite potent in there effect.
Although in the end I still consider Hot Fuzz to be my absolute favorite of The Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End remains a tremendously one-of-a-kind package of entertaining brilliance from the filmmaking genius that is Edgar Wright, and easily ties for second place with Shaun of the Dead. It’s very rare that a year gives us two brilliantly funny “end-of-the-world” comedies, but 2013 gave us both this and This Is the End, which would make a flat out perfect double feature.
Blu-ray has been extremely kind to all of Edgar Wright’s films as far as presentation is concerned, and Universal once again does not disappoint for a single solitary second! Brightness, colors and image detail are all at a superb level here. Half the film takes place at night, and to be honest those sequences appear even grander than the daytime shots. The visual effects look even more spectacular, as well!
It’s not hard for contemporary movies, especially action comedies of this nature, to get a Blu-ray release with staggeringly awesome sound mix that garner a labeling such as “one of the year’s best sounding discs”. But I’ve watched this movie three times (without commentaries) since buying the disc and I’m here to tell you that this is high in the running for best sounding disc of the year. Between the awesome soundtrack, which pumps up the sound system right from the opening scene, to the insane action bits involving humans vs. robots, the DTS HD mix is in full dynamic force throughout the entire presentation. Dialogue delivery is phenomenal, the balance between dialogue, action, music and ambient sounds is at a level of pure perfection!
I’ve noticed that even as all of Edgar Wright’s movies on Blu-ray get wonderful treatment in the extras department, the quantity seems to grow with each progressing release as this disc from Universal clearly indicates. In other words, this will get mentioned yet again at this year’s DMC Awards. Oh man, where to start??? We get three excellent commentaries; the first includes Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg who, as past commentaries have illustrated, always provide a funny and informative listen. The second is a technical commentary with Wright and director of photography Bill Pope, and the third is a most hilarious one with Pegg and co-stars Nick Frost and Paddy Considine. There’s also the always neat U-Control feature, which here contains a Picture in Picture Storyboard track. Also featured is a Deleted Scene, an Outtakes reel, Alternate Edits, a near 50 minute documentary titled “Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World's End” and a half hour doc titled “Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World's End”. We also get some additional featurettes including “Director at Work”, “Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold”, “Friends Reunited” and “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”. And it doesn’t stop there, people, as we are also treated to Animatics, Hair and Make-Up Tests, Rehearsal Footage, Stunt Tapes, a VFX Breakdown, Signs & Omens (a collection of Easter Eggs), Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart, Trailers (including a most funny one titled “The Man Who Would be (Gary) King” featuring moments re-dubbed with Michael Caine), TV Spots, a TV Safe Version (if you can imagine that), various Image Galleries and a fantastic Trivia Track!
I really have to applaud Universal for issuing a release that illustrates one of the reasons Blu-ray discs exist, a large capacity for content. Lately, it seems so many Blu-rays have been lacking in this department so for this release to include all of what I just listed (especially a Picture in Picture track) is a sign of hope that other studios will follow in re-establishing similar treatment as far as extras go.
The World’s End is the last in a great trilogy, but hopefully not the last effort we see from the collaborative efforts of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. The balance between razor sharp British humor and epic action is remarkably flawless, and as an all around piece of entertainment it’s about as original as they come. And as far as Blu-ray releases are concerned, this is a flat out must own!