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The World's End (2013)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/19/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/15/2013
It stands to reason that at some point in their career, every director will make their best movie. (Although, this is often like choosing the best of the worst.) Logic dictates that this could come at any time during their tenure behind the camera. But, what if it comes very early in their career, say their first or second film? Then what? Will that director forever be chasing their former glory? Will they decided to pack it all in and focus on something else (producing?)? These are excellent questions for British director Edgar Wright. With 2004's Shaun of the Dead (which was technically his second feature-length film, but the first one to get any sort of notice), Wright not only set a high-water mark for horror-comedy, but for himself as a director -- a height he's never been able to obtain again. His latest effort, The World's End, may represent the low-point in his career.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) is a man on a mission. Twenty years ago, he and his best friends attempted to celebrate the end of school by conquering "The Golden Mile", a series of twelve pubs in their hometown of Newton-Haven. However, for various reasons, they never made it all the way. Now, Gary is a washed-up drunk who lives in the past. He decides that all will be right in his life if he can gather his mates and finally complete that unfinished task. So, he contacts Oliver (Martin Freeman), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Andy (Nick Frost), and through lying and scamming, convinces them to join him on his quest. Despite the fact that these four men are all now successful and respected, they reluctantly agree. Upon arriving in Newton-Haven, they find that the town is just as sleepy and quiet as they remember. They also quickly learn that the pubs have been homogenized. As their drinking begins, old feelings will arise and the reasons why the group disbanded will become clear. However, these problems take a back-seat to the fact that something very weird is happening in the small hamlet.
The World's End is the third and final entry into the "Cornetto Trilogy" of films, thus named for a Nutty Buddy-like ice cream confection seen in the movies. The first two films in this series were the aforementioned Shaun of the Dead and 2007'sHot Fuzz. The films aren't really sequels, but each was directed by Wright, written by Wright and Pegg, and star Pegg and Frost. They also include similar themes and styles. Shaun of the Dead was a pitch-perfect send-up of the zombie genre, while Hot Fuzz poked fun at buddy-cop action movies. The World's End offers Wright and Pegg's take on disaster films. And, it's easily the worst of the series.
The World's End was such a disappointing experience that I'm almost hard-pressed to decide where to begin describing all of the places where this movie went wrong. Let's start with the main characters. I'll preface this by saying that there's nothing wrong with trying something new and each actor should attempt to challenge themselves, but the parts played by Pegg and Frost here are all wrong. In the past films, Pegg played a love-sick slacker and a tightly-wound cop, both of which had their faults, but neither of which were unlikable. Gary is a flawed narcissist and to be honest, he's a complete jerk and it's nearly impossible to get behind him. Frost played bumbling nitwits in the first two films, while here, he takes on the tightly-wound role, and it simply doesn't suit him. (No pun intended with the use of the word "suit".) Again, it's fine that they are trying something new, but we should like the main characters.
And then we have the plot. I realize that Wright and Pegg are both in-demand and very busy, but that's no excuse to be so lazy with the writing of the movie. Perhaps a "greatest hits" package seemed like a good idea on paper, but they've merely taken the "there's something suspicious about this quaint small town" aspects of Hot Fuzz and combined them with the "we're on the run from a disastrous situation" ideas of Shaun of the Dead. This is more than simply repeating some themes (which does happen, such as the running joke of a character attempting to jump a fence), but rather wholesale cutting and pasting of the other movies in a haphazard way. I'm being vague about some of the plot, as I don't want to ruin it for those who are unaware of exactly where The World's End goes. Suffice it to say that the entire tone and genre changes half-way through the movie.
Finally, we have the humor quotient, of which there is very little. Shaun of the Dead is hilarious throughout and Hot Fuzz definitely has some funny moments. Perhaps Wright and Pegg ran out of jokes, as the laughs in The World's End are few and far-between. Part of this has to do with the film's tone. While, on the surface, this appears to be an action/comedy, much of the first half of the film deals with the idea of facing one's own maturity and realizing that youth can't be re-captured. Not exactly gut-splitting stuff. That aside, many of the jokes simply fall flat. We get the same sort of fast-paced dialogue found in the other films, but something is simply off here and I was honestly shocked by how little I was laughing.
The final nail in The World's End are the repetitious fight scenes. We get three long and drawn-out fight scenes which seem to go on forever. There are elaborately shot and choreographed, but by the third one, we can't help but wonder if we are watching filler. I'm glad that Wright mastered fight choreography on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but that's no reason to load down an already lackluster movie with one identical fight after another.
I was so excited about The World's End, that I'd actually hoped to catch it in theaters over the summer, but that didn't work out. I'm now glad that I didn't waste one of my precious out of the house days on this. We know that Wright and Pegg are talented and this simply doesn't live up to their usual standards. WithSpaced and then Shaun of the Dead, the pair proved themselves to be a new voice in clever, pop-culture obsessed filmmaking. The World's End is a sad way to end their film trilogy, but let's hope that they work together again in the future and attempt to redeem themselves.
The World's End did teach me something about doorframes on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably blues and greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, as we can make out textures on objects, and the depth is notably nice during the exterior shots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a very active track, as the in-film music delivers good surround and bass effects. The "whoosh" sounds which accompany fast cuts also fill the rear speakers. The stereo effects show good separation and during the third act, the action scenes deliver very detailed surround sound and wall-shaking subwoofer effects.
The World's End Blu-ray Disc contains a metric ton of extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY featuring Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope. We then get a third COMMENTARY with Pegg, Frost, and Paddy Considine. Viewers can also choose to watch the film with a TRIVIA TRACK. The Disc contains one DELETED SCENE which runs about 1 minute. It simply shows the guys preparing for their night. We get an 11-minute reel of OUT-TAKES. "Alternate Edits" (5 minutes) simply shows a handful of scenes which use different shots to deliver the same message as we saw in the finished film. "Completing The Golden Mile - The Making of The World's End" (48 minutes) is a very detailed, two-part featurette which takes a closer look at the film's production. Featuring loads of on-set footage and comments from the cast and filmmakers, the piece examines the story, the cast, the stunts, the production, and the film's overall themes. Wright in profiled in "Director at Work" (3 minutes). "Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold" (3 minutes) looks at the films of the two stars. The story of the group getting back together is overseen in "Friends Reunited" (4 minutes). "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy" (5 minutes) gives an overview of the three films which Wright, Pegg, and Frost has made together. "Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World's End" (28 minutes) shows a lot of rehearsal footage to show how the team pulled off the elaborate fight scenes. We get "Animatics" (11 minutes) -- elaborate storyboards -- for two scenes. "Hair and Make-up Tests" (4 minutes) simply shows video of the actors trying out their looks for the film. "Rehearsal Footage" (6 minutes) shows us more practicing of the stunt work and some test FX shots. "Stunt Tapes" offers three segments take us through the choreography of the fights. "VFX Breakdown" (9 minutes) shows the layering and removal used to create the effects shots. "Bits & Pieces" (3 minutes) is simply a reel of unused shots. "There's Only One Gary King - Osymyso's Inibri-8 Megamix" (5 minutes) is a music video using footage from the film. "Signs & Omens" (8 minutes) shows us hidden numbers and symbols in the film. The two writers show us their giant notepad in "Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart" (13 minutes). The Disc contains three TRAILERS, three TV SPOTS, plus five GALLERIES -- Production Photos, Animatronics & Prosthetics, Theatrical Posters, Concept Art, and Hero Pub Signs. "TV Safe Version" (4 minutes) offers various shots with the profanity dubbed.
Review Copyright 2013 by Mike Long