The final part of the supposed “Cornetto Trilogy” finishes off what the earlier two films managed to do, and hopefully shows that Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was just a blip on the landscape in terms of Edgar Wrights direction (it remains one of the most disappointing films of the last few years). Once again its success is down to a mixture of script, cast and direction rather than a single factor, and its rare to see a film as well constructed as this (and so well constructed that it doesn’t feel constructed – a rare feat).
Like the first two films the script has been tightened to within an inch of its life, nothing feels superfluous (indeed, the sub two hour running time suggests that this has been edited down first at the script stage, then during filming and finally in the editing suite rather than leaving everything to the last minute) and yet we’re never short of information. Sure, sometimes it’s a little too fast paced (Wright never allows chance for his characters to truly breathe) but it’s not often that I complain about that – although I still have a soft spot for films of a more glacial pace.
This is even more surprising given that this time there’s a little weight to the proceedings – the central characters arc is a little more rounded than before, this isn’t just about overcoming an external adversity, but a larger internal one as well. Here is the big surprise of the film, that there’s a little depth below the surface to Simon Pegg. Whilst I’ve always enjoyed watching him as an actor there’s been little to suggest that he’s more than a fine comedy actor. Whilst he’s still firmly within his comfort zone it’s nice to see him stretch his range a little and hopefully he’ll use this to expand himself a little. Likewise, Nick Frost brings a little more to the table this time – in fact it seems entirely plausible that in ten years time he’ll be starting to be recognized as a fine character actor who just happened to start in comedy. The rest of the support are as good as well, and it’s nice to see the central dynamic expand beyond a duo – Eddie Marsan in particular is fast becoming one of my favourite actors.
Wright’s direction is fine as normal, although I’d like to see him expand is range a little beyond what seems to be his comfort range and slow things down a little (at times it all feels a little too hectic), but it’s understandable that here he’s continuing to use the language he established in Shaun of the Dead & Hot Fuzz (both of which were an extension of what was established in Spaced). He’s grown more confident in the action stakes, and despite the films modest budget he’s achieving miracles in terms of effects.
The World’s End is a fine ending to a disparate trilogy, expanding the themes of the earlier films and giving everything a little more weight. For me the key question now is where everyone goes from now – like I said I’d like to see Wright try something a little slower paced, Pegg give a non comedy role a try (or at least a more serious comedy role) and I think Frost has the makings of great character actor – but we’ll have to wait a couple of years to see.