The World’s End – Film Review

The World's End

It has felt like a long wait for The World’s End, the third film directed by Edgar Wright, produced by Nira Park and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, in a series loosely characterised as “genres the British don’t often do, done in a very British way”. The World’s End is also the weakest film of the three, but that’s not to say it isn’t good fun for your money.

Gary King (Pegg) is a man who, numerically at least, is in his forties. However, in his head he’s still 18. The World’s End is absolutely steeped in late 80s/early 90s nostalgia, with a soundtrack loaded with Blur, Happy Mondays, James, The Stone Roses and, incredibly, Soup Dragons. Gary King still plays the mix tape his friend, Steven (the always wonderful Paddy Considine), made for him when they were teenagers because in his last days of school Gary was popular, invincible and had the world at his feet. Now an alcoholic clinging to his glory days, nothing is going to make him grow up.

Drink Up It's The Word's End

Except maybe, just maybe, he will if he manages to complete the Golden Mile: a pub crawl of the 12 pubs in his hometown. Gary dates his adult failures back to when he and his four friends bailed from the crawl at pub nine and is now determined to fix his mistakes. He goes back to those four friends, Andy (Frost), Peter (Eddie Marsan), Oliver “O-man” (Martin Freeman) and Steven, now with adult lives they seem perfectly happy with, and convinces them to go back to Newton Haven with him to complete what they started. Joining them is Rosamund Pike as Sam, Oliver’s sister and Gary’s one-time shag. Getting in the way of this quest is the small matter of an attempted alien invasion.

For those not familiar with the so-called Cornetto Trilogy, each film takes the form of a buddy comedy accompanied by over-the-top action. The preceding film, a cop action flick called Hot Fuzz, was released over six years ago. Shaun of the Dead, a zombie film, appeared on screen three years before that. And the television series that kickstarted it all off, Spaced, started airing on Channel 4 in 1999. I recorded each episode (on VHS!) to watch after I got home from drinking in the pub on Friday nights with my teenage friends. My entire adult life has been peppered with Wright-Pegg-Frost offerings and if any review is going to date me, it’s this one.

The Cornetto Trilogy

I mention this because just like Hot Fuzz did back in 2007, The World’s End carried a lot of expectation. The difference is that while HF surpassed my expectations; TWE failed to meet them. However, if TWE had followed Shaun of the Dead, I probably would have been pleased. Not thrilled and certainly not desperate to go right back into the cinema and watch it again, but I would have been satisfied. This is because TWE is essentially Shaun but with a much bigger budget. It’s funny, shows off some good action sequences and strong lead performances but has absolutely no plot and lacks a lot of the charm of Shaun. What TWE has gained in special effects, it has lost in emotional resonance. Although the flashbacks to the teenage gang are quite endearing.

What The World’s End also lacks are any truly stand-out moments. I am struggling to think of anything that had the same sense of fun as Shaun and Ed throwing vinyl at zombies, or the same whole-cinema-gasps-out-loud factor as Nicholas Angel knocking out an old lady with a flying kick. What it does have are some unexpected turns, a lot of laughs and too many lengthy monologues. Nick Frost puts in a sympathetic performance as the long-suffering Andy, Gary’s best friend back in the day and it’s fun to identify the recurring actors from the previous films: there’s probably a drinking game in spotting them. You’ll also get Wright’s manic, eye-popping direction and the running gags are a delight. Yet Simon Pegg should probably stick to playing nice guys. Not once did I believe Gary’s motivations.

The World’s End will keep you entertained and it steams by pretty quickly for its running time but as Gary King keeps pushing his friends to continue his quest to complete the Golden Mile, the reasons for complying, and the plot, get thinner. It’s been a brilliant ride but no more Cornettos please*; it’s time to grow up.

*I don’t mean this literally. If anyone wants to send me some mint Cornettos this summer, I will happily take them up on it.

Attack the Block – DVD Review

Film
We’ve covered this film so much you should know that we love it. Admittedly some cracks start to show on a second viewing but the excerpt from our review below still holds true:

This film is a powerhouse, particularly for a low-budget British monster movie, all the skill behind the camera makes up for any lack of budget, the aliens themselves a testament to ingenuity over cost.

Extras
At long last we have a DVD to review with some decent extras. The first disc holds the film and three different commentaries. The first features Joe Cornish and the young cast, the second Cornish and the older cast and the third commentary just Cornish and Edgar Wright. I only had time to listen to the final commentary, but being a fan of Wright and Cornish feel I made the right choice. With few references to the film as it played, this was more an extended discussion between two filmmakers about making your debut film. Funny and enlightening stuff.

On the second disc are five proper documentaries, one lasting for almost an hour. Rather than just talking heads and brief clips of behind the scenes action, this DVD goes in-depth into the whole production and doesn’t gloss over the more stressful side of filming on a tight time scale. One thing I couldn’t find was the featurette titled Joe’s Massage, either it was removed after the list of extras was released or it is an Easter Egg I failed to stumble upon.

Attack the Block is out on DVD and Blu-ray on September 19th 2011, and you should probably go and buy it.

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The Adventures of Tintin – Trailer Dissection

Adventures of Tintin

There are a lot of things to get excited about with the upcoming, Spielberg-directed, Tintin film. Getting us jumping about is that the scriptwriting credits read like the ultimate Mild Concern wish list: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish were all tasked with stringing three of HergĂ©’s books into one film. That’s two trios of awesome right there. Then move down to the cast, bursting with Great British talent: you’ve got Gollum, James Bond, Billy Elliot and Westley (or Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Cary Elwes, if you’re fussy about your actors’ names.)

But we have fears too. There’s the obvious worry that no film could do justice to the original Tintin books, or even the (classic) animated series. Then there’s the hyper-realistic, motion-capture animation, which had me examining the trailer expecting the same creepy vibe I got off The Polar Express. Check out my conclusions, and other uninformed comments, after the jump.


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Attack the Block – Review

As he briefly introduced the film last night Joe Cornish described Attack the Block as a first time for everyone involved; for himself, for the cinematographer, for Basement Jaxx and Steven Price producing the score and for the 11 young actors bearing the brunt of the film. But from the opening shot as we move down from the nights sky to Oval tube station it is clear that this is not the work of amateurs.

Joe Cornish is no stranger to writing, he’s currently going from writing for Spielberg to writing for Marvel, so it’s no surprise he has managed to produce a funny and action filled script. What is surprising is the dialogue of the gang who discover, and try to fight off, an alien invasion on their block of flats. It’s something that caused me major concern in the trailer and the clips that were released but in the context of the film is not nearly so jarring. You can see Cornish did his research, something highlighted by just how awkward it sounds when Luke Treadaway’s Brewis, more private school than council estate, tries to pull off the dialogue himself.

As a director Cornish keeps his camera moving in a slow and steady style, there’s never so much shaky cam or fast editing that you can’t tell what’s going on. Cornish is happy to let the visuals get the attention they’re due, and the fact that such cinematic visuals are possible in a block of flats is down to Thomas Townend in his first feature as cinematographer. Townend makes the most of dark corners, harsh strip lighting and smoke to create a series of eerie and beautiful images.

Basement Jaxx and Steven Price’s debut score provides the usual necessary functions of making the scary moments scary and the tense moments tense but adds another unique layer. This is no orchestral score and the Jaxx-esque music playing throughout reflects more the culture of the kids involved, adding to the setting rather than taking you out of the film. Danny Elfman would have ruined it.

Moving swiftly on to the conclusion of this review, brilliantly set up structurally in the opening paragraph, let’s talk about the real stars of the film: the stars of the film. As mentioned, Luke Treadaway provides some solid comic relief as the outsider trying to look cool and fit in with the gang of youths. The very gang of youths that had not acted before but became the heart and soul of the film. Terrifying, funny and heroic in equal measure throughout the film, the gang of young tearaways go from petty crime to alien warfare and we go right along with them. As their mugging victim, Sam (Jodie Whittaker), learns to stop fearing and judging the group, we do too and by the end we’re right by their side, kitchen knife in hand. Special mention goes to Alex Esmail as Pest for making me love a character I know and dislike in real life.

It’s hard to be totally objective when I’ve been taught to love the work of Adam and Joe in the past year but there’s no denying this is a great, thrill ride of a film and a confident debut by all involved. This film is a powerhouse, particularly for a low budget British monster movie, all the skill behind the camera makes up for any lack of budget, the aliens themselves a testament to ingenuity over cost.

Now as a treat for anyone who is still reading, a clip featuring Mr Joe Cornish:

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Paul – Review

Last November we were lucky enough to see an early cut of the new film Paul. We reviewed the film but within a day had received two take-down requests so did the decent thing and took the review down. At the time we were promised invites to a press screening of the film so that we could review it properly but as that has failed to materialise we’re going to republish our review. Bear in mind that we saw the unfinished film and all manner of things may have changed in the meantime.

Pegg and Frost play two friends who follow up a visit to Comic Con with a trip around America’s alien hotspots. Along the way they meet Paul, a foul-mouthed and brilliantly rendered alien voiced by Seth Rogan, who is on the run from the government. Along the way they pick up Kristin Wiig in the form of a crazy Christian and end up persued by her even crazier father. They are also chased by some rednecks with almost no consequence, it’s that kind of film.

On the whole Paul is great, very funny and lighthearted, and while the humour is normally broad and often relies on alien Paul saying or doing something rude never really resorts to pure toilet humour. In fact Seth Rogan as Paul was surprisingly funny and restrained.

The film felt like a more old fashioned comedy with the leads gradually gathering various people chasing them, a bit of romance between Wiig and Pegg, and of course the now standard bromance between Frost and Pegg.

The film’s main weaknesses lay in two of the characters who appear only briefly. Sigourney Weaver’s role was presented as a big reveal despite her having very little to do and featuring heavily in the production blogs. She did get one of the biggest laughs in the film though so who am I to complain?

Blythe Danner’s character was another that was all pay-off and no set up. The emotional resonance of the climax of her storyline fell a bit flat when we were only told her back-story in a quick bit of exposition rather than shown it properly.

Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio and Jason Bateman were all great as secret agents, and Jane Lynch’s small role as the waitress at a UFO themed cafe was a real highlight.

Paul does suffer from the lack of Edgar Wright, and is nothing compared to the Cornetto Trilogy, but a few unnecessary parts aside is a lot of harmless fun and Greg Mottola does a good job at directing. I’m willing to look past the bizarre bit of Christianity bashing that could genuinely offend some.

After the film we were asked to filled out a survey and I selected “Would definitely recommend” so do go and see Paul when it is released on 14th February 2011.

10 points if you spott Scott Pilgrim.