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The World's End Review

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In the spring of 2012, I asked Edgar Wright whether he would reveal anything about pending movie The World's End, but he wouldn't buckle.

I could understand his reluctance to talk about the film. After all, who wants to spend years of their life working on a project, only to have filmmakers steal their thunder before his own film baby is born?

Now Wright and Simon Pegg's Cornetto trilogy has been wrapped up, and it's a mixture of curious flavours.

For me, The World's End is a film in three parts. The first is my favourite, a love letter to growing up in the Eighties, the music of the era, and blokey friendship.

A fine time, drinking in smoke-filled British boozers which still had their own identity, and revelling in the lack of responsibility. (I'm not a smoker, but at least it masked the smell of sweat).

Yes, there comes a time when we all have to grow up and settle down, but that does not mean we can't be young at heart. And other such well-worn cliches.

Gary King is the manchild that never moved on from his teenage years, so little wonder many blokes can't help but root for him as he tries to persuade old friends to join him on an epic pub crawl they didn't finish in their youth.

It's a great structure for any comedy, and fertile ground for poking fun at life in 2013.

Wright and co-writer/star Pegg happily have a go at character-filled boozers turned into cookie cutter family pubs thanks to chains. (The subtext being that even pubs in King's old home town have become clones of themselves, like some of their residents).

Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan and Martin Freeman are great, but Pegg's character steals the show; he touches a chord with many of us who were growing up in the 1980s. And if he doesn't, the sound track certainly will.

One of Wright's strengths has always been in his choice of music, and he does not disappoint here. Old classics by The Housemartins and The Sisters of Mercy to name but two, should pluck the heart strings for many middle-aged viewers, as well as unleashing a tidal wave of nostalgia.

Until a key scene when Gary tries to strike up a conversation with a sullen youth in a pub toilet, this was on course to be one of my favourite films of the year.
But then it took a 'From Dusk till Dawn-style' left turn.

Chances are you'll know by now that the English town of Newton Haven has been over run by robots. This leads to some relentless over-the-top fight scenes which are thrilling, but after a while became a bit monotonous.

The third act is possibly the weakest. Yes, it's always good when filmmakers take a risk and try to do something a little different. And full marks to Wright and Pegg for giving it a go. But the last 20 minutes feel like they have been tagged on from another film.

Nick Frost is always good value for money, and here he is on top form - part buttoned-up executive, part Incredible Hulk.

Pegg gives us one of his best performances to date. While Hot Fuzz's Nicholas Angel was essentially the straight man for Frost's loveable idiot Danny Butterman, here Simon really gets the chance to flex his impressive comic muscles; a fine addition to Pegg and Wright's greatest comedy characters, Shaun and Angel.

With a stronger third act, and less repetitive fight scenes, The World's End would have been on a par with the sublime Shaun of the Dead. While it's not perfect, the beauty of Wright's comedy is the fact that it stands up to repeated viewings.
In three years' time, when ITV2 are probably showing this every other night, I will quite happily sit through it repeatedly.

However, it's the first act that will gain most attention. It hints at a film that could have been.

I would like to have seen an alternate The World's End, without all the sci-fi and a bit of the action. Which is ironic as that is just the sort of thing the 20-year-old me would have loved.

Let's hope Edgar can now work his magic on Marvel's pending Ant-Man movie. But that's another story for another time.

The World's End is in UK cinemas now