October 4, 2013

The World's End (2013): The Cornetto's Conclusion? [review time]

Edgar Wright may not have been the only director to release an apocalyptic film during the universal sigh of relief from having survived 2012, but he's probably the one for which we had the highest expectations. We have a very high opinion of the first two members of the Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but reviews of the last Cornetto flick have been nothing if not mixed.

The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds: Five high school buddies return to their hometown to finish the Golden Mile, a pub-crawl challenge involving 12 charmingly British-sounding small town pubs, culminating in the World's End pub. Partway through the drinking gauntlet, they uncover an apocalyptic secret too good to spoil in a review, and (here's what makes it problematically ridiculous) decide that they must continue their boozing in order to stay under the radar and survive.

It is exciting to see the Cornetto stars on screen together again, even if the product is below the flawless quality of Shaun of the Dead.

Our boys are pictured above, from left to right: Martin Freeman, who played some dude named Declan in Shaun of the Dead and the Sergeant in Hot Fuzz, as Oliver; Paddy Considine, who played DS Andy Wainwright in Hot Fuzz, as Steven; Simon Pegg, who played Shaun in Shaun of the Dead and Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz, as Garry King; Nick Frost, who played Danny in Hot Fuzz and Ed in Shaun of the Dead, as Andy; and Eddie Marsan as Peter.

Cornetto similarities: All three Cornetto movies involve a comical sequence of fence hopping in series. In both The World's End and Shaun of the Dead, Pegg's character has to work really hard for the love interest. Shaun and Ed are basically Garry and Andy but with the actors (and protagonist role) switched. World's End and Shaun of the Dead each feature an intolerable jackass character with no off switch (except that Ed manages to be endearing and likable). The World's End is basically Shaun of the Dead with a different, but not so different, catalyst for the potential apocalypse.

Problems: There are some general complaints that I have heard and wholeheartedly agree with. For one thing, once the apocalypse is nigh, it just makes no sense that the Muskateers continue with their pub crawl. A flimsy rationale is given, but just about no one is buying it. The rule of survival is fight or flight, not fight or get crunked and pretend nothing's going on.

If you remember Shaun and Ed in Shaun of the Dead, Garry and Andy are pretty much the two reversed, except we're supposed to empathise with Ed (Garry) as the protagonist, and while Ed was quite lovable as a sidekick, he's way too much of an ass to be our hero. He's supposed to be the pain-in-the-ass best friend of the hero.

The ending was downright confusing. I mean, I feel that I understand what I was meant to understand, but I'm left with so many (spoilerful) questions. Why was the tap in the World's End pub the lever that opened up the aliens' secret lair? Was it a coincidence or a trap for specifically for Garry?

And just what was up with the use of "wtf" throughout the film as if it's new and memeworthy?

Inconsistencies: The blanks' level of aggression. The first blank we encounter won't speak unless spoken to, or rather, unless violently raged at. When Sam foolishly confides Garry's warning to the Twins, they immediately try to kill her, and 11.34 minutes later, Guy Shepherd is telling them that he wants a peaceful "merger" — the blanks don't want to hurt anyone at all. Then why were they trying to kill Sam? I'm so confused.

It does get better (and laugh out loud funnier) after a few views — and I would know, since I watched it a bunch of times to try to figure out what makes it so inconsistent in comparison to the spot on Shaun of the Dead. Good use of The Doors' Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) though.

Next week when I review This is the End, I'll address the similarities between these two apocalypse flicks as well.

So, um, did you like it? Oh, and if you can answer any of my questions and settle my confusion, that would be lovely.

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