The World’s End – Is this really the End?
The World’s End – Is this really the End?
I have three favourite aspects to the films of Edgar Wright, firstly it is Edgar himself. His directorial style is fun, witty and inventive. He uses his trademark quick cuts sparingly and with great effect. I have come to associated them with him so fully that if I see a series of quick cuts in any film I will think of Edgar. He also has moments of great inventiveness, changing up the routine shooting angles with longer pauses, emphasised by chiming bells or askew glances. He has a tendency to blend disparate shots together to welcome us from one scene into the next and it means that I find his films inviting and comforting as well as exciting and hilarious.
Secondly there is the cast, in this case a fabulously talented one, including Paddy Considine (Dead man’s shoes), Rosamund Pike (An Education, Made in Dagenham), Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit) and the always great to watch Eddie Marsan (Happy go lucky, Tyrannosaur – directed by Paddy Considine). In this film Eddie Marsan shows that he doesn’t always have to play the psychotic bastard, playing a much softer ‘wimp’ of a character with an adorable cheeky grin. Not to mention the two stalwarts of his films, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, these two have such great chemistry together that if I see one without the other I feel slightly let down, as if I’m only getting half of the great double act, it’s like seeing Hardy without Laurel, Morecambe without Wise or Cameron without Clegg. The natural way that they act together is what gives the films of Edgar Wright a certain familiarity, as though we are part of their friendship and joining in rather than watching from the side lines.
Third and always my favourite is the script, it is so densely packed with witty dialogue that never stops the plot moving forward or developing the characters and their relationships. When I have the fortune to catch a few moments of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz I am amazed at how often there are jokes, how densely packed into the script they are. It is a revelation that a screenplay can be written in such a way as to remove all the dead weight and just have a long running stream of the best bits.
This film is not the best of the trilogy, it doesn’t have the originality as Shaun of the Dead, but it is shorter and more compact than Hot Fuzz. Personally, as a science fiction fan, I am a little disappointed with the sci-fi finale, it lacks any real punch, but being as it is a comedy I can forgive it for its levity. There are few scenes that seem to be added for the sake of completion, the recurring fence gag, in this film it isn’t so much as woven in seamlessly as added in where possible, and the obligatory Cornetto reference is so quick and fleeting that it, again, doesn’t have the place of recognition in this film as it did in the previous two.
When a director works on a film with as much love and dedication as Edgar Wright has on these three films it is often a sign of their enthusiasm, and I don’t think it has waned much, even though things have changed considerably since Spaced and the earlier films. The break from the partnership that saw Wright directing Scott Pilgrim and Pegg and Frost working on Paul (a script that lacks the depth and density of this one) has meant that the partnership has loosened slightly over the years. It still brings forth sumptuous fruit for us to enjoy but there is a slightly over-ripened feel to the backbone of the film. I expect they will work together in the future but that the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy will be remembered as their finest work.
The innate Britishness of these films shows itself strongly, and maybe that is why Shaun of the Dead will always be the strongest of the films because its story is almost global in that it is a zombocalypse. The World’s End, by definition, is another apocalyptic film and it does have a story that covers the entire globe (although we only see how it affects Newton Haven – a small town based on Milton Keynes) but its location being a small town means that it seems less global. Shaun was living in London, which people all over the world can relate to and know about, Hot Fuzz was based in a small town in Glouscestershire, very English and not well known around the world. Similarly this film is based in another small English town (it is a very southern Englishness) that doesn’t really translate across to non Brits.
The increased budget of this film has not necessarily made it better, the production is bigger and the end of the film certainly reinforces this fact, but the added explosions and CGI are not really why we go to see an Edgar Wright film, it isn’t for the size of the film but for the care and attention to detail that has gone into crafting it. My biggest disappointment with this film is that it is almost certainly the end, not of the world, but of the world and Wright, Pegg and Frost. It is a world that I have enjoyed since the days of Spaced, through Shaun of the Dead via Hot Fuzz to the World’s end. I do hope that they collaborate again for another film or (fingers crossed) another trilogy and that the world of Edgar Wright has not ended, it’s just closed for refurbishment.
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