Thursday 6 February 2014

The World's End

I first became aware of Simon Pegg when I watched his two series on British TV, Spaced (1999-2001), which was an amazing saga of a young wannabe comic artist, Tim Bisley (Pegg), his flatmate Jessica, a would-be writer played by Jessica Hynes, Bisley's best friend, gun-mad, part-time soldier, full-time lunatic Mike (Nick Frost) and other eccentric oddballs, an inventive, endlessly funny series which amply displayed Pegg's love for science fiction, etc. His parodaic funeral pyre for his Star Wars collection after the release of The Phantom Menace is unforgettable - and spot on true.

He went on to make one of the best ever zombie comedies with Shaun of the Dead (2004), and Paul (2011) is a witty, enjoyable take on aliens and UFOs which could have been a follow-on to Spaced.

His track record, though, seems to me to have been uneven, with some downright dire films, such as Run, Fatboy, Run (2007) and the very uneven Hot Fuzz the year before, not to mention the very unfunny comedy Burke and Hare (2011).

The World's End is again, for me, a bit uneven, though mostly it succeeds. It's a frenetic tale of old mates being coerced by Pegg's Gary King into going on a mammoth pub crawl which they started but never finished decades ago when they left school. Pegg is on top form, as are the rest of the cast, as they revisit pubs that have altered out of all recognition since the halcyon days of their youth, morphing into characterless modern day wining and dining establishments rather than the earthy pubs of their memories. This, though, isn't the worst they need to worry about, because a mind-chilling disaster has begun to take over their old home town, a place none of them have visited in years. Hence the title, The World's End, which isn't only the name of the last pub on their crawl but maybe the fate that awaits us all...

This is a return to comedy science fiction for Pegg, a high-octane, frantic, ever more chaotic tale that makes even Shaun of the Dead look tame by comparison! If I have any complaints it would be that some of the well-orchestrated fight scenes go on for too long - but that's not uncommon these days. These and chases invariably seem to go on forever in films nowadays.

Still, putting this quibble to one side, the action, humour, and plot twists go on at a relentless rate and there is barely a second within which to get bored. Whether it's the kind of film, like Shaun of the Dead or Paul, which I would gladly watch again some time, I'm not so sure. But it's definitely a film I enjoyed first time round.

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