★★★★☆Marking the third and concluding instalment of Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, The World's End (2013) serves up a superb concoction of sharp dialogue and pathos, along with a stellar cast, to provide a fitting, if occasionally muddled, end to the what is arguably one of the finest trilogies in decades. Starring Cornetto stalwarts and long-term Wright collaborators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, The World's End sees the pair link up with some of the UK's most celebrated talents including The Hobbit's Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine and a rather spectacular cameo from a British actor who shall remain nameless.
Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz stuck very much to their respective genres, The World's End is slighter trickier to define. The story follows Gary King (Pegg), a once popular figure during his teen years who has failed to leave his past behind. Still harbouring dreams of completing a previously failed drinkathon with a group of local friends, King sets about tracking down his former chums in a bid to convince them to join him for one last attempt at the crawl, culminating at the titular World's End. However, on visiting his ex-compatriots, Gary soon finds that not only do they not actually like him anymore, but that they've all moved on with their lives and appear far from interested in helping to recapture Gary's youth.
Still, undeterred, Gary somehow forces them to join him on his mission. On returning to their previous stomping ground, it's soon established that something has changed since their teens, and that all is not right with the local townsfolk. What ensues is something of a sci-fi themed tale of the apocalypse, with Gary caring for nothing other than completing his pub crawl. Despite its moments of physical comedy, snappy dialogue and slapstick violence, there is a very palpable undertone of darkness and personal tragedy that remains throughout proceedings. Whilst Gary's deliberately irritating presence is intended to grate, there are a few nods that suggest he is a deeply troubled individual, as opposed to the outwardly obnoxious character that we see for much of the film.
Elsewhere, the moment in which Peter (Marsan) reveals the emotional damage inflicted on him by a bully is deeply moving, such is the ever-exquisite Marsan in his performance. Unfortunately, Wright's final lick of the Cornetto does take a slight nose dive in The World's End's final third. The ground work laid in the previous hour gives way to an all too self-indulgent climax, making for a slightly disappointing conclusion to what is otherwise an absolute equal to its cult predecessors. With Marvel's Ant-Man next on Wright's directorial agenda, it may be some time before the Spaced trio reunite - if, in fact, it happens at all.
To read our interview with The World's End director Edgar Wright, simply follow this link.