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The World's End (2013)

Studio: Universal / Focus Features

Theatrical Release: August 23, 2013

Blu Ray Release: November 19, 2013

Director: Edgar Wright


Review by James Klein

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London, The Return of the Living Dead, and Evil Dead II were the quintessential horror/comedies. These were the films that could actually blend the two genres of horror and comedy perfectly into one movie. That is until Edgar Wright's 2004 Shaun of the Dead, maybe one of the best films to have come out of the decade, let alone one of the funniest horror films ever made.

48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Tango & Cash were the quintessential buddy-cop movies in that these great films not only provided laughs but also some amazing action sequences. That is until Edgar Wright's 2007 Hot Fuzz, another masterpiece that may arguably be better than Shaun or at the very least, extremely underrated.

Now Edgar Wright's newest film, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost once again, is a mixture of both science fiction and comedy that tries to keep with the humor in most of Wright's films while paying homage to movies such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Quatermass Experiment. But does The World's End even hold a candle to Wright's two previous films?
The World's End

Simon Pegg once again takes center stage as Gary, an obnoxious and over zealous 40 year old who can't seem to let go of his past and wants to keep reliving the good times he once had when he was a teenager. One of Gary's biggest moments of his life, his fondest memory, was going out with his mates and trying to tackle a 12 stop pub crawl. As the friends got drunk and rowdy, they just couldn't finish the crawl leaving Gary to wonder that if he can gather up his friends once again to take on the pub crawl and accomplishing it, his life may change for the better or at the very least, have a new fond memory to cherish.

Reluctantly, Gary is able to convince his friends to accompany him on his mission but not without hesitation. The one most hesitant to take on this strange venture is his closest childhood friend Andy, who hasn't spoken to Gary in years but decides to goes along for the ride when Gary tells Andy that his mother had recently passed away. As the men go from bar to bar, reliving some of their childhood while also battling demons, Gary is soon getting the picture that the past cannot be relived. When he drunkenly picks a fight with a younger boy in a bathroom stall, he accidentally tackles the boy and decapitates him by slamming his head against the urinal. Luckily for Gary, the boy is a robot.

As the friends start to put two and two together, they realize that their once childhood hometown is now overpopulated by robots and these superhuman creatures will stop at nothing to keep their secret safe from humankind. Gary and the others must put their differences aside for the moment and take on not just the robots but the infamous pub crawl at the same time.

So to answer my question regarding The World's End holding a candle to both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, my answer is  kind of vague...not really. That is not to say The World's End is bad. It is not. In fact, its really quite funny. However, I found myself laughing and enjoying the film more when there wasn't any superhuman robots running around. I would have preferred that the film take place in a normal setting without the science fiction subplot. The center of the story and the heart of the film is about this poor middle age man who suffers from depression and alcoholism who just can't seem to grow up. There were also some subtly touching moments between Gary and Andy regarding their torn friendship that was not only identifiable but also very moving. I loved these moments and wished the film wasn't stuck in a science fiction setting. When our protagonists are fighting robot twins or are being chased by the townspeople or take on a Tron-like computer called "The Network"...I simply lost interest. Maybe comedy and science fiction don't mix? Wright does try his damnedest to accomplish what seems like the impossible and comes close to pulling it off but still fails. And the final five minutes kind of left me with a "WTF" feeling which was not something I cared to feel when watching this kind of movie.

While the story doesn't quite work or pull me in as I would have liked it, The World's End still provides some big laughs by some of the main leads. Pegg and Frost are like peanut butter and jelly, a perfect combination. There hasn't been a good comedy team in a long time but Pegg and Frost (and Wright since he is the bread that holds the peanut butter and jelly together...can you tell I am hungry?) could be considered our generations Abbott & Costello. Their delivery and chemistry had me in stitches for most of the movie. I also liked that these talented actors have now played very different characters in all three of their films together (I'm not counting the utterly awful Paul which Edgar Wright didn't have any part of). But much like Shaun and Fuzz, The World's End also contains a stellar supporting cast such as Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamond Pike.

While the science fiction element in The World's End just wasn't my cup of tea, Edgar Wright sure knows how to direct action as he tries his best to make each action scene different than what we are used to. I particularly liked the fist fights with the robots grabbing onto the human's faces and several of the chase sequences.

Universal's blu ray of The World's End looks and sounds just fine. I did expect more sound effects blasting all around me during the climax of the film but otherwise I was happy with the transfer. Fans of the film will no doubt be pleased when they stumble upon a vast array of special features such as audio commentaries, a deleted scene, a making of documentary, and outtakes (these are quite funny and its nice to see all of the performers having such a good time making the movie).

It's really hard not comparing The World's End to both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz nor is it fair. In fact, I found the theme of The World's End more compelling and interesting than the other two films but I just didn't care for the science fiction twist which just left me cold. But there are still plenty of laughs and with a great blu ray packaging, The World's End is still a blu ray that I am proud to have on my shelf.

[Rating: 4]

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