Times change and we need to keep on top of new arrangements. Either that, or pack an apocalypse bag. The kicker is that few people think to bring their Armageddon knapsacks on a night out with the boys. Although I guess that totally depends on what kind of night out we plan on having.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) has very fond memories of the Old Days. His high school buddies, Andy (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Oliver (Martin Freeman), however, have obviously moved on. Gary takes it upon himself to unite the old gang and finish what they started: hit twelve pubs in one night, downing a full pint at each. For Gary, he’s rekindling the best part of his youth. For the others… it’s best to humour Gary just this once. Everything seems to be going according to plan, until the gang begin noticing something strange about their boring town of Newton Haven. The people were never all that interesting to begin with, but on this visit they seem a little too dull. Could it be aliens? Could it be robots? Could it be…alien robots? No matter; nothing on this earth or the next will keep Gary from finishing a drink at the last pub: The World’s End.
For the first half of The World’s End I was a little less than impressed. Ironically for a movie that’s clutching a map and a game plan it feels like we’re going nowhere fast. As our new friends become increasing intoxicated, however, The World’s End gets steadily more impressive, funny, and handsome. Weird how that happens…
Each character brings a certain charm to the story. While some, like Steven and Peter, seem to meld into one forgettable tag-along, others like Andy and the unique Gary King are hilariously irreplaceable. The five guys as a collection, however, stir up some wonderful chemistry. It’s the kind of gang that can comfortably flank a neighbourhood street in a slow motion strut. As the story gets wilder and as the characters tick brews off their to-drink list, absolute chaos ensues and the town leaps at the opportunity to welcome them back to the fold. (One of us. One of us. One of us.)
For a drunken comedy about a Goth that never grew out of the trench coat, I’m impressed with the amount of choreographed fighting. Multiple people flailing around in an enclosed space cannot be easy to organize, especially considering the duration of these fights and the amount of objects rocketing through the air. Bar stools, beer steins, umbrellas, urinals – the potential weapons available to the creative brawler are seemingly endless. While some patrons fight with gusto and enthusiasm, others are more frustrated by the fact that their attackers won’t let them finish a proper pint. The humour in these scenes is quick and I heard myself laughing out loud before I even realized I was smiling.
As the night progresses and the team gets increasingly sloshed, The World’s End picks up momentum. Scenes get shorter, the shots are quicker, and a general sense of panic bubbles out of the foam. Suddenly, we’re invested in the outcome of this dumb adventure. If you find The World’s End rather slow to begin with, with hardly enough zombies, then don’t worry because so did I. It picks up. I promise.
The characters grew on me (especially Gary), I love the humour (British or otherwise), and the general fact that something so silly can be taken so seriously is just awesome. I can only imagine the guy who pitched this to production on a whim saying, “So there are five guys, right? And they want to hit up twelve pubs, yeah? And everything goes just fine, you see, until the aliens show up… So what do you think?” It must have been one hell of a pitch. The World’s End deserves a solid 7.5/10 for surprising me by being funny, fast, and fresh.