World's End

Consistent, Slick Style

The World’s End, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, features the same cinematographer and editor (Bill Pope and Paul Machliss, respectively, though the latter is one of two credited editors on the 2010 film as well as Baby Driver), allowing for the film to have a similarly fluid style and movement. Wright, along with Pope and Machliss, allow for the various fight scenes, such as Gary’s discovery-turned-battle in a pub’s bathroom when he notices that the local scowling teenagers are robots, to be truly thrilling even while being exceedingly goofy. Wright’s capable hand in choreographing and staging action sequences, which has been on display in each of his films, is a large reason why people were excited to see him initially working on Ant-Man as director (and why they were more than a bit let down to see him move on from the project for that old saw, “creative differences”). It’s a big reason why Baby Driver is such an exciting film: few directors are more adept at action sequences in an era of shaky-cam nonsense than Edgar Wright, on full display here (as well as in his new picture).

The World’s End doesn’t skimp on the action in its final hour, where the tension is no longer related to whether Gary and his friends can complete the Golden Mile. That bathroom-set fight scene, which eventually includes Gary’s pals, is matched by another hand-to-hand sequence once Steven’s old squeeze, and Oliver’s sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike) learns the horrible truth about her old home. Arguably the largest-scale fight comes near the end of the second act, when Andy finally gives into liquid temptation and rages against his friends as well as the blanks: “I’ll smash your fucking heads in! I fucking hate this town!

Though the climax is largely dialogue-driven, as Gary, Andy, and Steven realize the totality of the alien threat against Newton Haven and Earth itself, the action of the second act is as slickly and cleanly staged as the final section of Hot Fuzz or each of Scott’s battles against the Evil Exes in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Conclusion

But what makes The World’s End stand out in the end, above the rest of Edgar Wright’s filmography, is the statement on the toxicity of nostalgia and childhood as represented by Gary King. Gary’s final sentiment to the spectral Network controlling the alien blanks may seem well-meaning, if regressive, at first: “We wanna be free! We wanna be free, to do what we want to do!” (It’s also a mirror of some of the first audio of the film, taken from The Wild Angels, starring Peter Fonda.) The destructive tendency at the core of that plea is what makes Gary King such a fascinatingly self-centered lead. His choices are both horrendous and understandable, adding texture and layers that isn’t as present in films like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.

Each of Edgar Wright’s films are events unto themselves, and he’s yet to make a bad one. But The World’s End remains his best.

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