The World's End

Director: Edgar Wright
Screenplay: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
Stars: Simon Pegg (Gary King), Nick Frost (Andy Knightley), Paddy Considine (Steven Prince), Martin Freeman (Oliver Chamberlain), Eddie Marsan (Peter Page), Rosamund Pike (Sam Chamberlain), David Bradley (Basil), Michael Smiley (Reverend Green)
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 2013
Country: U.K.
The World’s End Blu-ray
The World’s EndThe World’s End, the third collaboration between director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg (who co-scripted with Wright) and actor Nick Frost, is essentially two movies tenuously linked by the central character’s desperate need to redeem himself. The first half, which follows a group of fortysomething Brits who were best friends in high school but have since gone their separate ways as they reunite in order to recreate and—crucially—finish an epic 12-pub crawl in their quaint hometown, is by far the superior half, which is a problem for the movie as a whole because it is supposed to be building toward the second part, which suddenly introduces an outlandish, but utterly familiar, science fiction concept that wreaks narrative, although not necessarily thematic, havoc. Unfortunately, the first part of the movie is so good—so knowing and funny and raucous and even bittersweet in its depiction of male arrested development and the discomfort it elicits in those who have supposedly “grown up”—that all the sci-fi silliness that runs rampant in the second part feels derivative and unnecessary, even though it falls clearly in line with the visual mayhem of the previous Wright-Pegg-Frost films.

In their first collaboration, the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead (2004), Pegg and Frost played ale-soaked slacker best buds who couldn’t be separated even after one of them ends up undead, while in their second outing, the buddy-cop parody Hot Fuzz (2007), they played an odd couple of cops who eventually grow to appreciate one another. In The World’s End, Pegg and Frost take their on-screen friendship in a new direction by playing former best mates now completely estranged from each other. Pegg plays Gary King, the group leader whose life tragically peaked during the glory days of high school, leaving him to spend the ensuing two and a half decades in a slow downward spiral toward becoming a frazzled, alcoholic nobody who still likes to believe in his own mind that he’s “The King.” Frost plays Andy Knightley, who once shared in Gary’s adolescent glory but has since become a button-down lawyer who hasn’t had a drink in 16 years.

Andy is dragged back into Gary’s off-kilter orbit when Gary hits upon the idea of gathering all of his old high school buddies—the self-proclaimed “Five Musketeers,” who also include Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan)—to complete “The Golden Mile,” a potentially impossible 12-pub crawl they attempted at the end of high school but never quite completed (although much beer was imbibed and many a fight engaged during the attempt). While the other men are reluctant to recreate days gone by, Gary embraces it with the kind of rampant enthusiasm that comes from someone who is so mired in the past that it colors everything he sees and feels. There is no “now,” only “then.” The distinction between the men (the core of the film’s fundamental comedy of manners) is neatly summarized in their visual disparity, with Gary, unshaved and apparently unbathed, shamelessly rocking the same ’90s post-punk black overcoat that defined him in high school while the others are all neatly dressed in the conservative suits and sweaters that define “grown ups.” There is a clear sense of class consciousness at work here, as everyone but Gary seems to have ascended beyond their working-class origins. Gary still sneers at authority with adolescent-punk rage, while the others just seem kind of embarrassed to be with him, even as they clearly begin to feed off his energy.

It is difficult to discuss the second half of the film without giving too much away, so suffice it say that Wright and Pegg slowly reveal the presence of a familiar science fiction concept hiding in plain view in the guys’ picturesque hometown of Newton Haven. This invasion of sorts interrupts (albeit temporarily) their pub crawl, which is supposed to end at the titular watering hole, a kind of Holy Grail of excessive imbibing, and forces them to deal directly with both otherworldly forces possibly bent on worldwide domination and their own past demons. The lads are eventually joined by Sam (Rosamund Pike), Oliver’s sister who both Gary and Steven desire, although her presence feels tacked on, as if someone in the writers’ room suddenly realized that there was no real female presence anywhere in the film.

Of course, The World’s End is, like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, primarily about male camaraderie, although the film’s funniest moments tend to involve its breakdown, especially in light of Gary’s booze-soaked self-centeredness. The movie hinges largely on Pegg’s fantastically scuzzy performance; his Gary is a real cad, a relentless jerk whose bug-eyed energy is wildly misguided, yet Pegg keeps him sympathetic by constantly reminding us of the great distinction between how Gary sees himself and how others see him. That The World’s End eventually reveals Gary to be nothing less than the savior of humanity is not without its irony, although the relatively heavy-handed manner in which Wright and Pegg redeem him makes the film’s final moments feel clunky and forced. The elaborate sci-fi entanglements that dominate the film’s second half ultimately pale in comparison to Pegg’s manic self-delusion, which is by far the film’s greatest special effect.

The World’s End Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD

Aspect Ratio2.40:1
Audio
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround
  • Spanish DTS 5.1 surround
  • SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish
    Supplements
  • Audio commentary by stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Paddy Considine
  • Audio commentary by director Edgar Wright and director of photography Bill Pope
  • Audio commentary by director/screenwriter Edgar Wright and star/screenwriter Simon Pegg
  • “Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World’s End” documentary
  • “Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World’s End” featurette
  • Hair and Make-Up Tests
  • Rehearsal Footage
  • Stunt Tapes
  • VFX Breakdown
  • “There's Only One Gary King: osymyso's Inibri-8 Megamix” featurette
  • “The Man Who Would Be (Gary) King” featurette
  • “Signs & Omens” featurette
  • “Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart” featurette
  • Deleted Scene
  • Outtakes
  • Alternate Edits
  • DistributorUniversal Pictures Home Entertainment
    SRP$34.98
    Release DateNovember 19, 2013

    VIDEO & AUDIO
    The World’s End looks fantastic in its 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer on Blu-ray. The image is sharp, bright, and excellently rendered, bringing out all kinds of fine detail and visual nuance, which is particularly important in a film like this that is crammed with little details and foreshadowing. Black levels are consistently excellence, which is nice given that the entire second half of the film takes place at night and Gary’s clothing is all black. Flesh tones look natural and primary colors are strong and well saturated throughout. The lossless DTS-HD 5.1-channel surround is also thorougly impressive, with great immersion via the surround channels and a solid, thundering low end to give all those apocalyptic fisticuffs that dominate the film’s second half plenty of heft.
    SUPPLEMENTS
    The supplements are nothing less than exhaustive, and fans of both The World’s End and the previous Wright-Pegg-Frost films should be plenty happy. There are not one, not two, but three audio commentaries: an actors’ track with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Paddy Considine; a technical track with director Edgar Wright and director of photography Bill Pope; and a writers’ track with Wright and Pegg. Virtually every facet of the film’s production is covered in this commentaries, but we also get more via various documentaries and featurettes. The entirety of the film’s production is the subject of “Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World’s End,” which includes interviews with all the major contributors and focuses in depth on production issues, as well as the film’s various themes and the relationships between characters. There are two featurettes about the film’s visual effects: “Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World’s End,” which features rehearsals of the fight scenes and goes into detail about how the VFX team enhanced the footage, and “VFX Breakdown,” which features VFX supervisor Frazer Churchill comparing production footage with final shots. “The Man Who Would Be (Gary) King” focuses on Simon Pegg’s memorable scoundrel of a protagonist, while “There's Only One Gary King” is a techno mash-up of scenes from the movie. “Signs & Omens” highlights all the hidden clues and hints throughout the film, and “Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart” shows us how Wright and Pegg used an old-fashioned flip chart to create the film’s story. Also on the disc are hair and make-up tests; rehearsal footage; animatics; stunt tapes giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the bathroom fight, the twinbot fight, and the beehive fight; a deleted scene; outtakes; and alternate edits.

    Copyright ©2013 James Kendrick

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    All images copyright © Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

    Overall Rating: (2.5)



    James Kendrick

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