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Friday, August 30, 2013

Brief Review: The World's End

Hey there Chaos maniacs! Hope that these last days of summer are treating you well. So, Mrs. Chaos and I saw The World's End this weekend- the last of the hysterically funny and very clever "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy". So, did The World's End live up to the reputation of the previous two entries, or is it a shadow of the others? Let's find out...

I saw Shaun of the Dead on its opening weekend. I had no idea who the cast was (Bill Nighy excepted). I went to see it because it had zombies and looked like fun. The movie was just incredible: it was a great comedy, a brilliant satire, a homage, and quality horror/zombie movie in its own right, all at the same time. It pays homage to all the Romero "Dead" troupes, while having great characters, thrilling/scary set pieces, and characters that you love and relate to.

Then came Hot Fuzz. I was certainly in the pocket of Pegg et al at this point. Again, the movie was fantastic. An interesting (and ridiculous) mystery, great cop humor, and a ton of action make Hot Fuzz a worthy successor to Shaun. Now, I liked Shaun more, but that's because I love the zombie stuff. However, Fuzz was amazingly good, the equal of Shaun in every respect.

So, of course, I had high expectations with The World's End. The movie is indeed very funny, and Pegg and company do a fantastic job. However, it is not as good as the previous two- it is the weakest of the three in a few ways. I do acknowledge that I'll need to see it again to make the final determination (Hot Fuzz has grown in my estimation on repeat viewings).

To sum up the basic plot: Gary King is a frustrated adult who desperately wants to re-create the glory days of his teenage years- he is a study in being a regressive individual. His plan is to get his old friends together and do their infamous "pub crawl"- hitting all the bars in their home town, including the final one, The World's End (which they never made it to as teens). King's friends, however, all feel and act as if they are 40 (which they are)- but they are convinced to go due to King's mischief. Now, back in their old town and ready to drink (despite their misgivings and a lot of personal baggage against King), they find their old town is not what it once was- both literally and figuratively. Up against a mysterious force, the old crew must band together if they are to figure out what is happening and survive to tell about it...

There's a lot of good stuff here. It is no spoiler to tell you that this is a sci-fi/comedy mash-up just as the other two were mash-ups. In this case, it is an alien invasion, and they make a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) references to sci-fi classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is a very clever premise, and makes for great comedy (and action) fodder. Also great is how The World's End goes along with the previous 2 in terms of theme. Shaun was about growing up, Fuzz was about doing what's right no matter what, while this movie suggests that you need to do both- simply getting a "job, house, family" is not enough. Grow up, yes, but don't lose that youthful idealism, don't lose that moral compass. King's character is all about that youthful passion, but he's stuck in the past in all the wrong ways. His pals, meanwhile, have grown up, but they are bland, dry, and banal. In the course of their epic battle/ pub crawl, these characters are going to have to rediscover their youthful ideals, or else fall pray to... well, I think you get the idea. Further, the actors are really good, with Pegg doing a great job of being both sympathetic and an ass all at the same time. Also, I found Martin Freedman funny as well, with far more offering here than he did in the entirety of The Hobbit, sadly.

The movie is really funny, and the sci-fi plot is imaginative. The problem that I can't ignore though is the ending. See, Shaun and Fuzz had fantastic conclusions. Shuan as the terrifying (and zombie traditional) final, massive zombie assault, while Fuzz had a balls to the walls shoot-out (with bits of shooting, car chases, and pyrotechnics that put action directors to shame). The World's End denouement is... they TALK to the "intelligence" to stop its invasion. The scene isn't that funny at all, and the whole movie just grinds to a halt. It's too bad, as I think that, with a bit of revision, it could have worked. As it stands, it just doesn't have the humor or spark the rest of the movie had. The final 2 minutes of the movie is funny and appropriate (what REALLY happens when you stop an alien invasion? This movie has the right idea, I'm afraid). Sadly, the "final confrontation" falls flat and hurts the film.

So, where does it stand? It is a very funny movie with great ideas and imagination. You would expect nothing less from these guys. However, the final bit goes off the rails, and sucks the life out of the movie. As a result, I'm giving it 3 1/2 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. It is worthy of being alongside Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but it is just under those two overall. If you loved Fuzz and Shaun, you do need to see this...

Until Next Time...

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