And so Edgar Wright’s (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) Blood and Ice Cream trilogy comes to its dazzling conclusion. Beginning with rom-com-zom Shaun of the Dead and then continuing with buddy cop comedy Hot Fuzz, Wright reunites stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost with the rest of the team for a grand and decidedly drunken finale.
Indeed, The World’s End sees a former gang of childhood friends reunite for an epic pub crawl in the town of their youth but, as expected of the genre-mashing series, something’s amiss. People stare blankly and don’t recall the motley crew. Suddenly, everything plummets deep into sci-fi territory with a bizarre alien invasion story that mirrors the humorous and oft-violent zombie outbreak of Shaun of the Dead.
Pegg is Gary King, an immature alcoholic who regrets never reaching the finish line of an infamous 12-stop pub crawl called the Golden Mile when he was a kid. To this end he brings back together his old gang, Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Considine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan), in order to reclaim their lost youth and conquer The World’s End – the final pub in the Golden Mile.
It’s a remarkable and well-balanced ensemble, with surprisingly meaningful characterisation that goes beyond mere archetypes. The downside is that the opening act is somewhat slow and shambolic, taking time to develop each of the leads before a jarring but effective tonal shift into science fiction. These twists and turns help to make The World’s End its own beast, but I didn’t find it as purely and consistently entertaining as Hot Fuzz.
It’s still laugh out loud though, as Pegg and Wright have again scripted a film that smartly blends and plays with genre conventions. If you’re a fan of either Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz then there’s a lot to like here, with familiar players like Bill Nighy and David Bradley as well as trademark jokes back for another rip-roarious tumble.
As with the previous films, The World’s End is its own standalone story. It does feature familiar building blocks however, as all three movies in the colloquially known Cornetto trilogy share the same DNA. Why Cornetto? Each entry features a character pining for a Cornetto ice cream of a different flavour: a red one in Shaun to denote its horror elements and a blue one in Fuzz to symbolise the police. Any guesses as to what colour Cornetto is used to symbolise sci-fi in The World’s End?
The Cornetto trilogy concludes with a bizarre pub crawl in the middle of an alien invasion.