‘The World’s End’ Might Be the Best Film of the Summer
That scene is so brilliant. It's always seemed to encapsulate what Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are able to do better than anyone in Hollywood: Be technically ambitiousand heartfelt; satiric of modern society, and utterly hilarious.
And I’m happy to report The World’s End hits every one of those metrics. Easily. It might be the most entertaining movie of the year.
The film begins with Gary King’s voiceover. He’s played by Pegg, and he’s the typical guy who some less charitable people would call a “townie”—a legend in high school, a degenerate till his crusty 40s, someone who would normally be a pathetic alcoholic, except Pegg gives him a laddish and kind-of awesome cool which makes up for the realization that he’s spent the better part of the last two decades fucking over his friends. Those friends—Andy (Nick Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Steven (Paddy Considine), and Oliver (Martin Freeman)—are all begrudgingly convinced by Pegg to return once more to their hometown of Newton Haven, and to attempt once more the Golden Mile, a 12-pub tour of the downtown’s watering holes. (The pubs, by the way, have great names, like “The First Post,” “The Cross Hands,” and “The Famous Cock.”) The gang tried, and failed, to hit the Mile after graduation from high school. They have unfinished business.
Once the movie moves to Newton Haven, it’s clear things are a bit off. The story had first seemed like your typical tale of suspended adolescence. But Pegg and his gang of bros soon realize that they’re up against something more difficult than just bitter IPAs and hangovers: An otherworldly being has taken over this sleepy British town, and the resulting blue-blood-soaked robots battles are better than just about any bloated-budget action movie you’ll see this summer. (I even loved the way Wright films beer being poured from the pubs' taps. It’s lovingly filmed not unlike… well, a movie you can’t see in theaters. You will need a good beer after seeing The World's End.)
The movie does stumble a bit during these later scenes, as Pegg and Frost dip a little too deep in the melodrama that surrounds their friendship. But just when you think things are getting too schmaltzy, there’s another brutal robot killing, or rapid-fire pop culture reference, or antic plot twist. And by the time we get to the final showdown between Earth’s apocalyptic doom-dayers and the Golden Milers, Wright pauses to deliver what must be his own ethos on the human race. It’s, unsurprisingly, profound.