I was wrong about The World’s End: The Second Viewing
Hello readers. I hope you had a merry Christmas and shall have a happy new year. I’m currently working on a top ten films of the year and ‘alternate’ year end awards, so in the meantime, I thought I’d write this post.
Having received a copy of The World’s End, a film I didn’t much care for in my first review, as a Christmas, I re-watched it with an open mind, hoping it would improve on a second viewing. Thankfully, it did by a huge amount. Originally, I felt the film lacked enough jokes, had too serious a mood, and generally ended the Cornetto Trilogy in disappointing fashion. On second viewing, some of the original flaws had disappeared. Mostly, the laughs.
The first time I only laughed a handful of times, but on second viewing, I appreciated more sight gags and generally the performances. Simon Pegg gives his best performance to date as Gary, the failing loser of an alcoholic who is disliked by basically every character. Nick Frost is excellent as the serious, bitter Andy. Eddie Marsan, in a role far different to his usual creeps, is loveable as the scared, formerly bullied Peter. Now, on first viewing, I criticised the roles of Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman (and to a lesser extent Rosamund Pike) as being underwritten and simply uninteresting. I can happily say that I was wrong on this occasion. Paddy Considine is great as the undersung hero of the group, while Martin Freeman manages to get in some great gags in the opening half hour. Pike, also, is very charming and works well as the centre of the group’s affections.
Despite finding the dramatic tone and themes of suicide, regret and alcoholism to be too much on my first viewing, this actually really made the film better on second viewing. Unlike Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which are fairly light and breezy in comparison, The World’s End has incredible pathos, and a few really touching and moving scenes. Pegg and Frost’s chemistry has always been great but this is a new side to their acting, and it is brilliant to see the two effectively reinvent themselves for The World’s End.
There are still a few problems, however. The use of cameos, usually a strong point of the trilogy, is a bit redundant in this film; Rafe Spall, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, Mark Heap and even Pierce Brosnan are pretty much wasted. Though they drive the plot along well enough, none of them are memorable enough to make it seem worth bothering. The only truly good cameo is David Bradley (returning from Hot Fuzz) as one of the few ‘normal’ members of the town. He’s funny, effective and is actually given something to do. The ending also, is still not totally perfect. Despite being more enjoyable and ‘epic’ than first time around, it still feels a bit unsatisfying. It just feels too low key and out of place for such an over-the-top film, despite a few decent gags and a great ending note for Pegg’s character.
Overall, then, The World’s End is still the worst of the trilogy, but rather than being a damp squib (think The Godfather Part 3), it only suffers in the fact that two near-classics came before it (think a better Army of Darkness). By no means perfect, and not the comic masterpiece that is Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, but an unusually dark, brave, and often very entertaining film. I’m recalling my B-, and giving it an A-!
By Harry J. Ford
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