[Review] - The World's End

Courtesy of Relativity Media
I don't just like movies, movies are important to me. I feel things about them, which is something i can't say about other elements of life, like people, or things. And because of this, a bad movie can completely ruin my day. Doesn't matter if I'm looking forward to it or not, a bad movie can sap whatever energy I had, and leave me a depressed husk of a "person" for hours, even days afterwards. And this summer, it seems like it has been one long slog through a network of bad days. Perhaps not surprising in a summer where four of the biggest box office flops ever arrived close enough to all in theatres at the same time. Even the promise of assorted original content, reportedly fawned and cherished by it's creators, left me numb and bitter.

Sadly, more and more, good movies are becoming an endangered species, borderline extinct in the summer wasteland. A truly great film is such an oddity to be thought almost mythic. Gone are the days of films that, ten, twenty years from now, will be thought of as classics. We'll all still be watching the films from twenty, thirty years ago today. And the films of Edgar Wright. Because he and Simon Pegg are obviously only concerned with making good and great movies. Being fans of the medium themselves doesn't get in their way of turning out the best product they possibly can, and have done yet again with The World's End, their most ambitious, honed and complex film to date. And leaves the viewer with a bloody good buzz afterwards.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which were surprised that they didn't take the opportunity to make a Star Wars reference at the end there.

I'm going to say straight away that I'm not sure if World's End is better then Hot Fuzz. Fuzz is, to borrow a phrase, "sheer elegance in it's simplicity," and remains one of my favourite films of all time. World's End is a far more ambitious project, in tone, in density, and in execution. Granted, I've only seen it once, and not for the last time. It will become a film of regular viewing in my home, that much I know for certain. And perhaps, over time, as I've invested more into it, it might rise to the level of Fuzz in my mind. But not yet.

So, having gotten that out of the way, I can tell you that World's End is both the most satisfying film of the year thus far, and I would go so far as to say it stands to be the best film of the year, genre or otherwise. No other film I've seen has attempted to be as richly inventive or as brashly intelligent, while being purely and honestly fun as this. The dialogue is very quick moving, making me wonder if the length of the script wasn't sizable compared to others of a similar run time. And I challenge anyone to name another film in recent memory to include not one, but multiple long form jokes built entirely around grammar, and have them be hysterical. This is, to my memory, the first comedy I've seen in ages where the audience was actually laughing throughout.

The greatest lesson that other filmmakers should take away from World's, and other filmmakers should be made to sit down and watch World's with Clockwork Orange-style eye props in, is that you do not have to sacrifice story for complexity. World's is a complex movie, that builds it's own mythology not once, but twice, and never backs down from an information dump. And while things get a bit hurried at the end of the second act, it never looses the track. This is a sign that a movie can be smart, funny and have a back story, and share those elements in equal measure. Unlike the the current style of having movies that have rich mythologies, but no story to support them, or a bare bones plot, with nothing to fill it out.

Perhaps this is because, despite their great acclaim and success within the Hollywood system, they still operate outside of it. The bar has been raised, yes, but watching the film you feel that these are still just a bunch of blokes making a film that only their mums might ever see, just as they did back when they made Shaun of the Dead (which was due to have only a direct to DVD release in North America, and one of the early victories of the sheer will power of the internet to make something good happen).

In 1990, five school chums attempted an epic pub crawl through their small country village home, which ended in disaster and failure. Twenty three years later, Gary King (Simon Pegg), whose life has refused to progress beyond that failure, gathers them (begrudgingly) back together to attempt it again, a last hurrah for old times sake. And because he's a self obsessed egomaniac living in a permanent adolescences, he fails to realise exactly how much pain, bad blood and old memories this will grudge up for his fellows (played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, and Rosamund Pike). So, as they return to their place of former glory, the pain of the past comes back in waves, oblivious to Gary, who is only concerned with downing his glass and moving on to the next pub.

Then the "robots" filled with blue ink show up, and things take a turn.

To the film's (and writer's) credit, despite some foreshadowing beforehand, the first act is completely divorced in terms of overt content from the rest of the film. It's a coming of age film, Stand By Me thirty years on, that raises real emotional issues. The speech about bullying, then and now, is heart breaking and something anyone who has been a victim of bullying can relate to. Once the robots show up, that isn't lost. Certainly, the choreographed fight scenes take more of a centre stage, but like any good genre work, they act as a supporting metaphor for the real message of the film.

The appearance of a strong sci-fi element in what had, to that point, been a straight forward comedy might be alienating to some, and I feel that on home video, it might cause some to switch off. Those are people I don't want to know. The confines of the theatre all but force the viewer to continue, and is well worth it. Because what follows becomes a far more earnest examination of the flaws of the human condition, because sudden it isn't some asshole you haven't seen in a decade causing you problems, it's your very life at stake.

As you would expect (or, I guess, rather hope, considering the state of film making these days), this is Wright and Pegg's more sophisticated film, in all respects. The writing is crisper, the characters more fully realised, the acting better, and the direction showing a master's touch. If nothing else, World's End should get people very excited over Ant-Man. Edgar Wright of the Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz days was talented, but never could have directed Ant-Man back in 2008. This film proves he'll knock it out of the park. The first major fight scene, in which the fivesome takes on a bunch of youths in a bathroom, cut to appear to be a oner (and who knows, it might have actually been one masterfully executed shot, but I doubt it) is a remarkable scene. I intend on seeing the film in theatres at least once more, for that scene alone. Juxtaposed with Shaun of the Dead's Bohemian Rhapsody scene, you might not thin they were shot by the same man.

The movie, in the end, doesn't say anything new or particularly profound about the human condition, because there are only so many ways and in so many situations that you can claim that man kind is different, and that's a good thing. But the film does it with style and charm, and never takes the easy or cliched path. They own their ending, not the Hollywood, everyone lives happily ever after sort of ending. This is more the Sam Raimi's-original-Army of Darkness-ending sort of ending. And while it might appear that no one learns anything that wasn't forced on them, or that they didn't just ignore, the real message is that there is a place in the world for everyone, so long as they have the chance to find it for themselves. If Hot Fuzz could be taught in screenwriting classes (and I feel it should), this is the sort of film that should be analysis and over analysed in philosophy courses.

And it reminds us that there are people out there who still care about making good films. This is one of them.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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