The World’s End: Sending one down the hatch before everything goes down the tubes.
  • The World’s End: Sending one down the hatch before everything goes down the tubes.
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Ah, raised stakes. Is there any movie you can’t weaken, even as you seek to ratchet up the significance and tension of the crisis at hand? My top-of-the-head answer for favorite film of Summer 2013 is Mud, which tells the story of two boys attempting to help a wanted man escape from an island in the middle of a river. That’s it. No fate of the galaxy, no conquering the world, not even a few million lives at stake. Just one man in a jam, looking for understanding and a boat motor.

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Shaun of the Dead **

So. There’s this great movie directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg’s character is stuck in a rut; either life hasn’t worked out because he hasn’t quite grown up or he hasn’t quite grown up because life hasn’t worked out. Either way, he’s a little too fond of the pub. But a zombie outbreak — one that initially goes unnoticed because of certain aspects of modern English society — forces Pegg to confront his failings. That film is called Shaun of the Dead, and it came out in 2004.

So. There’s this other movie directed by Edgar Wright and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg’s character is stuck in a rut; either life hasn’t worked out because he hasn’t quite grown up, or he hasn’t quite grown up because life hasn’t worked out. Either way, he’s a little too fond of the pub. But an alien invasion — one that initially goes unnoticed because of certain aspects of modern English society — forces Pegg to confront his failings. That film is called The World’s End, and it comes out Friday.

There are, of course, differences between the two — some of them welcome, some less so.

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The World's End *

Welcome: The World’s End expands the principal cast to include Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, and an expert Martin Freeman. The five fellows play former high school chums reuniting in middle age to finish the Golden Mile, a 12-pub crawl through their hometown of Newton Haven. (Yes, it’s fun to relate the name of each pub — the Good Companions, the Beehive, etc. — to the action that takes place there.) The banter and dynamics between the former crew mates — everybody else has gotten on with life, but they still can’t resist Pegg’s half-manic call to join him in regressing to their past debaucheries — are probably the film’s chief pleasure.

Less welcome: The World’s End ups the special-effects budget and raises the stakes to...well, you’ve seen the title. And it’s when the film has to deal with those raised stakes that it stumbles, wanders off-course, and turns from a fine drinking buddy telling a rollicking story into a tiresome drunk who’s lost the point and is just trying to keep your attention.

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Comments

MrWolf Aug. 23, 2013 @ 1:11 a.m.

If this is the same team that gave us Shaun of the Dead, I WILL BE THERE!

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