Waiting for intermission: review of "The World’s End"

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As mentioned in earlier reviews, many of this year’s summer films have failed to live up to their hype. Audiences are seduced by a knockout trailer, but then leave the movie disappointed. Then there are films that lived up to the trailer…of a mediocre film. Such is the case of Edgar Wright’s “The World’s End,” the final installment in the “Cornetto Trilogy.”

Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the film follows Gary King (Pegg) who, in an attempt to relive his high school glory days, rounds up his more successful school buddies to embark on a night of barhopping in their hometown.

As the night drags on, Gary and his friends discover that the town has been taken over by alien robot creatures set with a plan on taking over the world. While there are many entertaining and poignant moments, it is lost in a contrived plot and muddled character motivations. The trailer promises a mediocre sci-fi film and delivers just that, nothing more.

For those few living in the pop culture doldrums, the “Cornetto Trilogy” is a series of parody films starting with “Shaun of the Dead” in 2004. Followed by “Hot Fuzz” in 2007, the trilogy achieved massive international success. What makes the trilogy so appealing is the fact that the films are commentaries of genres rather than simple parodies.

Each film is unique, capable of being watched independently from other films in the trilogy. The film begins on a strong note with the introduction of Gary King. From his trench coat to his Sisters of Mercy tattoo, Gary is an anachronism. When not in rehab, he spends his weekends partying to forget how life has moved on without him. Between the awkward silences between childhood friends and his naïve oblivion, Pegg’s performance of Gary hits almost too close to home. Cataloguing his descent to rock bottom accounts for the film’s poignant moments.

Blending with these moments are very hilarious scenes, including a lengthy conversation on what to call their apocalyptic adversaries. The chemistry displayed between actors Pegg, Frost, Martin Freeman and others is very natural, something which is portrayed in the film’s dialogue. “The World’s End” is a comedy that knows how to be serious.

But oh man, is this movie self-referential. Half of the film’s jokes rely on knowledge of having seen the other films in the “Cornetto Trilogy.” Though the preceding films of the trilogy offered similar jokes, they were few in number. The consistency of these jokes alienates those audiences who have not seen the trilogy and destroys the uniqueness of this film. However, the tendency to rehash the same jokes is not what diminishes the quality of the film; it is lack of a coherent plot.

Many of the subplots shoved into the two-hour film are hinted at but never fully resolved. The climax revolves on a bad joke. Though Gary is slated to have his character transformation, it is haphazard and makes for a stilted end to the film. Despite some moments of fresh comedy, it is watered down, and audiences are left scratching their heads.

Instead of spending $10 on this movie, wait for it to come out on DVD. In the meantime, watch “Shaun of the Dead” or “Hot Fuzz.” You’ll be less disappointed.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

reprinted with permission from the Moviola

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ibQvQUpMTg’]