The World's End is, fittingly, the final part of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost's ersatz trilogy of blood, ice cream, and genre twists. This time around, the gang takes on science fiction, but as per usual these tropes are used to tell a more traditional, emotionally resonant story of the characters at the center of the story. The World's End lets us know we can't go home again, because if we do, we may find a bunch of freaky robot things have taken over the town.
This time around, Pegg plays the screw-up and train wreck. His Gary King is living in the past as much as he possibly can. He still harbors disappointment over the fact that he and his quartet of friends did not complete the Golden Mile, a 12-bar pub-crawl, in their youth, and he is desperate to finally do it now. Of course, he and his friends are now all middle aged, and the rest have moved on with their lives. In particular, Frost's Andy has given up drinking, but everybody decides to go along for the ride anyway. Of course, when they return to their hometown, they eventually realize that things feel strange. And then a bunch of fighting and running starts.
Rounding out the main cast are Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike as the love interest. The movie could easily be a series of vignettes as they move from pub to pub, and certainly there are set pieces. However, things build and build as they go along, and more and more becomes revealed. Not just about the town, but about the characters. It is clever and sharp, and even though some of the plot is revealed in the trailers, the conclusion is still a surprise, although not an entirely good one. Not bad, either. Just not a sticking of the landing.
The World's End isn't quite up the standards of Shaun of the Dead, which it is more similar to than it is to Hot Fuzz. It is probably just as funny, but the rest of it doesn't hang together as well. The plot isn't as good, and the social commentary isn't as sharp, and the emotional stuff doesn't work quite as well, but plenty of it works. Pegg is a dynamic character, and the rest of the cast is fine. Wright knows how to shoot a movie, and the guys know how to write the occasional smart quip.
It's a good movie, and if you liked anything else this trio has done together, you'll definitely want to check it out. It is more of the same, and that's not a bad thing. It has less pop-cultural riffs, but it is still an original take on sci-fi monster movies. There is depth beyond that, and good action. Also, it has a great soundtrack. The World's End is a fitting capper to the Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy.