Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The World's End

The World’s End – Edgar Wright – The finale to the ‘Cornetto trilogy’ is entertaining and occasionally very funny - but ultimately a fairly patchy conclusion. I feel that ever since watching Shaun of the Dead, which felt infinitely quotable, immediately relatable (in terms of 20s slackers, not the zombie apocalypse), perfectly paced, exciting and consistently hilarious, all of Edgar Wright’s films (all, being for me, Scott Pilgrim and Hot Fuzz) have felt doomed to disappoint. Nothing can recapture the impact that Pegg and Frost’s manboy romance had, the jittering quick-cut cool of Wright’s editing style, the cinematic articulation of a new sense of British humour which had been previously confined to TV, the witty soundtrack and cine-literate geekery – first time around all of that felt perfect, it felt immediate, urgent and ripe for cult claiming. Unfortunately, once repeated: manboy romance becomes anonymous bromance and the familiarity of Wright’s quirks, divorced from ‘newness’ become waring. However, that said – there is much to enjoy here, and it is only because Shaun of the Dead was first – and set the bar so high – that Hot Fuzz, and now The World’s End have suffered. Having Pegg’s character as the grating boy who never grew up, from the ‘cool kid’ to the tragic stagnation of eternal adolescence, does seem to provide the trilogy with its own inbuilt critique. The style of Edgar Wright’s quick cuts and the soundtrack playlist attention, combined with the natural chemistry of Pegg and Frost (even when in hateful opposition, or begrudging friendship) all become recognisably wed to a ‘male phase’ – the obsessions, indulgence and insecurity of not wanting to grow up. This is the film that, in its first half, elegantly captures that self-awareness – and is able to reflexively apply it to the trilogy’s style of filmmaking, in addition to the ‘manboy’ condition. Sadly, the second half has to oblige to self-made expectations of genre worship – and so spirals into sci-fi action. While all of this is fun – and worth the cinema trip – it does not satisfy the film’s earlier emotional promise. The team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is always enjoyable, compelling and funny.  I just feel as though, in Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, their enormously talented writing potential, consistent wit and enjoyment of character, all seem underserved by the need to jump through the thrills of genre parody and incongruous action.  7/10

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