After a glib comment during an interview, the now named "3 flavours Cornetto trilogy" comes to an end with, quite dramatically, The World's End! Literally!
Any viewing and reviewing of The World's End will be, rightly or wrongly, accompanied with a nostalgic look back at the previous works of the three main instigators of the trilogy - Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. All have gone on to do their own things but most viewers will be expecting, and more than likely demanding, to see more of what the three did together rather than something that may show how they've grown since those early days of collaboration.
Despite not being an actual sequel, The World's End will undoubtedly fall foul of the sequel curse - fans want more of the same but something different. A very difficult line to tread, the boys have never-the-less gone for this whole-heartedly and this could be where original fans my feel alienated (pun intended) by their attempt at the sci-fi genre. This is not like the affectionately-lampooned zombie genre Shaun Of The Dead, nor the mash-up of American all-action, cop buddy flicks in Hot Fuzz relocated to a quiet English village.
Those first two parts of the Cornetto trilogy had what translated up upon the screen as specific films being lovingly recrafted and having the piss taken out of them but with affection, respect and love. Shaun Of The Dead had its Day Of The Dead. Hot Fuzz had its Bad Boys. World's End... upon first viewing has.... nothing! At least nothing obvious despite the genre of sci-fi being a veritable smorgasbord of rich pickings to rip off or lovingly recreate. Some may, after having watched it, reflect upon the idea that Pegg and Frost's non-Wright project - Paul - feels more like a fitting end to the trilogy than the actual offering delivered here. Paul has specific references to sci-fi films that Shaun and Fuzz depicted that you are able to clock off on your fingers whilst watching whereas their World's End does not.
What you get to clock off instead is a cast list of who's who from all their past collaborations. People from their humble beginnings of TVs Spaced - Mark Heap, Julia Deakin, Michael Smiley - The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse - Reece Shearsmith - Shaun Of The Dead - Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy - and Hot Fuzz - David Bradley, Paddy Considine - all make appearances here in this finale. Infact, the easier thing to do would be to clock up the noticeable absentees from the final affair - Jessica Stevenson and Bill Bailey are the two main no-shows that would have been hugely welcome, even if just drinking in one of the twelve pubs in the background. Such is the pre-programming in us from our previous experiences from the trio's back catalogue, that we expect to see all the familiar faces from the past efforts all present and correct. And if not an exact appearance then at least an acceptable variation - Hot Fuzz had a James Bond with Timothy Dalton and World's End gets its Bond in the form of Pierce Brosnan.
So, what does it actually do then you wonder? Well, it definitely goes out with a bang! Literally! The team have a lot more buck to play with here and they use it wisely and wonderfully up upon the silver screen. The films and genres that they have parodied - or homaged - before were not necessarily known for their huge use, or reliance on, of special effects. Sci-fi films demand it mostly and the "robots that aren't robots" and the other non-human entities roaming the streets of Newton Haven are up-to-scratch with any of the big league blockbusters that delve into the world of science fiction. And maybe that's where this instalment falters alittle.
This feels abit like it suffers from the all-too-common- curse of the blockbuster - style over substance. This is because we are not presented with the normal dynamic between Pegg and Frost. Pegg is unrecognisable as the leader of the Famous Five who are trying to conquer The Miracle Mile's pub crawl that they didn't finish 20 years earlier. Here is shades of Frost's Ed from Shaun.. - all self-orientated, self-obsessed and selfish to the extent that you wonder what the rest see in him and why they still follow him around. There is no likable quality in the normally centre flag-poled Pegg and surprisingly, none of that seems to have been transferred other to any of the other four characters. Frost is angry at Pegg throughout the film and it's not until the final third act that we get to find out why that is. By that time then there's not enough minutes left for the forgiveness and re-bonding to begin between them and to wrap things up plot-wise hence the feeling of a rushed friendship bridge-building and the final fight to save Earth. Freeman, Considine and Marsen are the tag-alongers (as explained in the Pegg voiceover at the beginning) and have characterisation to match that standing in the scheme of things
It's these bold steps to differentiate this from their previous works that shows how they've grown work-wise but maybe how we as fans and viewers are not really ready for them to do so. Separately we can accept them expanding their horizons but when together, it feels like that they should be true to what and who they were. It's like having a loved pet replaced - it still is what it is in basic animal terms but it doesn't feel completely right.
The in-jokes are there still - the now infamous different ways of trying to climb a fence in a hurry, the look out for the Cornetto reference - but the more obvious ones are excluded deliberately by the trio in order to have this stand out from the other two efforts. A "you've got blue on you" would have been so easy to do (Shaun's "you've got red on you") but they don't go for it. All before has been so tightly cross-referenced that when they don't do it here you feel a tad disappointed.
Now, this does not make it a bad film - not by a long shot. It does make it a different film and how willingly you are to embrace that fact will depend on how much you will enjoy it. There are some quotable lines to match all their other great moments - the "we'll always have the Disabled Toilet" if there is any justice should be quoted alongside "we'll always have Paris" in equally awed tones.
Who knows, maybe after a few years and reflection, The World's End could become like the Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom episode where opinions change and it isn't considered the runt of the litter anymore....
Fun, filmatic and Friday night-friendly, it's a good and brave ending but here's to the hope that they, like Lucas and Spielberg did, make another film in order to say sorry to the true die-hard fans.
UK release date: 19.07.13