Let’s make no bones about it: Hot Fuzz is the best Pegg/Frost/Wright film. Yes, it is. You might think Shaun of the Dead is, and I respect the parody high points and just general cluelessness of Shaun, but by the time Wright reaches Hot Fuzz, he has parody down to a science. And the ending between the two films? Honestly, no contest. I’ll pay to see elderly British villagers turn into hardcore criminals every time.
The World’s End is not as good as either of Wright’s previous efforts, but it’s not bad. What is interesting about The World’s End is it’s much more act-y than the other two films. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz treat characters at best as a genre nod, at worst as parody, and the characters exist only to serve their function in the film (hero, idiot, villain, zombie, etc). In The World’s End, the story is a personal one: five friends from grammar school get back together 25 years later to do a pub crawl, and the film is about their relationships. Heck, the first half an hour is all about relationships, until the strange blue paint incident in the bathroom at about the 4th pub. It’s funny, but the film is much more like, say, The Big Chill or Peter’s Friends than its predecessors.
This changes radically as the film takes on a fantastic edge. It not only is a film about the epic journey of Gary King, the low rent who wants to relive his glory days of youth with his friends, who have all moved on as adults (and don’t we all know a Gary King), but it is also a film about what it means to grow up and what friends owe each other. Yes, against the backdrop of alien invasion. But still, that’s a day at work for a SF/F writer. Or it should be.
So, while I recognize the craft in the other films and find it better, I appreciate the effort of this film as Wright stretches as a director.
The actors are wonderful. Pegg and Frost completely switch personas, as in this film Frost is the one who is competent and real, while Pegg is the blow off. Other strong actors such as Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Eddie Marsan round out the group of friends nicely
My only complaint is this: while the ending grows organically out of the story, it is such a radical change in tone, and contains a great deal of exposition. It is truly incongruous.
Get a chance to check it out if you’re a fan of the other two films.