The World's End (Blu-ray)
Universal / 2013 / 109 mins / R
I feel that whenever I discuss THE WORLD'S END I always have to qualify whatever I'm saying with "but it IS a good movie." This is because it is always being compared to the previous two films in Director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's "Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy," SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ. Those films are two of the most brilliant and pitch perfect genre spoofs since Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder made YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN forty years ago. They sit in the lofty air of cinematic genius so THE WORLD'S END had impossibly high expectations before it even went in front of the cameras.
THE WORLD'S END follows five childhood friends who reunite after 20 years to complete the epic 12 bar "pub crawl" they never finished in their youth. Gary King (Simon Pegg) is the architect of the reunion; an extremely selfish and manipulating man who longs to relive his glory days. His best friend is Andy Knightly (Nick Frost) who has gone on the straight and narrow since distancing himself from the ego-destructive influence of Gary. The quintet is rounded out with Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) who all return (some reluctantly) to their childhood town of Newton Haven to complete the pub crawl which has been dubbed "The Golden Mile." While things start off with the sense of nostalgia Gary and company was hoping for, they soon discover that Newton Haven isn't quite the place they left two decades ago. It seems that almost the entire town has been replaced with robot duplicates of themselves as part of a fiendishly polite alien invasion of the Earth.
Hat's off to Wright, Pegg and Frost; they wanted to end their trilogy on a different note. THE WORLD'S END isn't a spoof on any film series or genre in particular in the way that SHAUN was a direct nod to the George A. Romero "Dead" films and HOT FUZZ was to the buddy cop genre. It is a straight up science fiction comedy that tips it hat to various films and iconic franchises, but in a very general way. It is also a bit darker than the previous two installments. Pegg's character may be funny (hysterical most of the time), but he's not particularly likeable. He's not a lovable loser coming into his own like Shaun or the tragic job-obsessed Nicholas Angel; he's pretty much a jerk and someone you wouldn't really want to hang out with. On the flip side, Frost's Andy character is a complete 180 degrees from his Ed and Danny; he is the troubled straight man trying to do right by himself but is dragged back to his hell-raising days thanks to Gary.
I have to put THE WORLD'S END behind SHAUN and HOT FUZZ in the ranking. It IS a funny film, packed to the gills with clever jokes, references and one-liners. The characters ARE all likeable and you feel for them all in their own way, but it just doesn't have that classic-feel of elevated genius the first two films did. But it IS a good movie and one that comes easily recommended.
As one would expect, THE WORLD'S END comes to Blu-ray in a spectacular transfer. The anamorphic 2.35 picture is about as crisp and colorful as you could ask for. Most of the second half takes place at night and in darkened buildings and the shadow detail is spot on.
Also completely expected, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix is top notch. This is an extremely active track with loads upon loads of ambient sounds, explosions that will rock you walls and a completely immersive soundscape. Five stars across the technical presentation front.
The supplement package for THE WORLD'S END reminded me of the supplement package for Edgar Wright's SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (one of the best Blu-rays of the past five years), it just goes on and on and on. You can literally spend hours going through it and that time just flies by!
THE WORLD'S END starts off with not one, not two, but three commentary tracks! The first features Wright and Pegg, a "Technical Commentary" features cinematographer Bill Pope and the third is a "Cast Commentary" with Pegg, Frost and Considine.
If you want to view the film in a different way, you are given two more options: the "U-Control Storyboard PiP" allows you view the finished film alongside the original storyboards and the "Trivia Track" supplement has pop-up info running throughout the film.
In addition to the FIVE ways of watching the movie (that doesn't include just watching the final cut) you get this massive list of great supplements:
"Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of THE WORLD'S END" and "Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of THE WORLD'S END" together make a wonderful feature length look behind the scenes.
"Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart"
"Director at Work"
"Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold"
"Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy"
"Animatics" (for two scenes)
"Hair and Make-Up Tests"
"There's Only One Gary King: Osymyso's Inibri-8 Megamix"
"Signs & Omens"
"Deleted Scene" (yes, only one)
"Bits and Pieces"
"TV Safe Version" (four minutes of awesomeness)
"Trailers and TV Spots" and an extensive section of "Galleries" (covering everything from concept art to on-set photos to promotional material) rounds out this spectacular set.
Grab a pint (or twelve) and sit back for a great comedy and fantastic Blu-ray; THE WORLD'S END comes highly recommended!