The World’s End (2013)

The World's EndReleased: August 23, 2013. Directed by: Edgar Wright.  Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman. Runtime: 109 min

Back in 2004, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (director/co-writer, star/co-writer and star, respectively) began their Cornetto trilogy with “Shaun of the Dead,” a satire of zombie flicks. The second in the trilogy came in 2007, called “Hot Fuzz,” a satire of buddy action films. This year, they are back to finish off their trilogy, with “The World’s End,” a satire of apocalyptic and science fiction features.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) is the so-called King of his friends group, when they were seniors in high school. Now, they’ve drifted and are all living individual lives. To gain a sense of achievement, he gathers his old friends to finish what they attempted 20 years ago; The Golden Mile, an epic pub crawl across twelve of their hometown pubs. The World’s End is the last pub on their tour, and reaching that pub becomes the least of their worries – as they unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.

In King’s friends group is Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Gary’s wingman. Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) are the two buddies who were kept around mostly for comic relief; and Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) was Gary’s rival for women’s affection. Joining the guys on their adventure is Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), who Gary and Steven constantly fight over.

The main difference between Gary and the rest of his friends is that they have responsibilities, and he is suffering from Peter Pan syndrome, because he hasn’t yet grown up. Gary’s arc is poignant and emotionally captivating, and it also makes this have a great analysis on the difficulty of aging; or in Gary’s case, not aging. He’s the same old Gary, but he is a funny guy; so that isn’t so bad for the audience.

The friendship between Gary and his wingman, Andy, is well-written. It’s heartbreaking in scenes; and possibly the most emotional relationship shared between the two stars. It’s interesting to see the shoe being put on the other foot for Frost in the trilogy. Both of the characters these stars have portrayed, they have had a lot of growing to do – but Frost’s characters have had, arguably, more memorable arcs from an emotional standpoint. They are both the main characters of each of the film, but Frost has played the slackers and Pegg has played characters that actually have ambitions. It’s interesting to see Pegg as the slacker, and Frost as the successful one.

Wright makes a comment through the characters that people’s hometowns don’t change over the years, but those who leave it do, and when they come back it’s really weird because it feels the same, but many can’t pinpoint why it feels different; and why they feel like strangers in a place once so familiar to them. The story is a fun way to embrace that idea, and answer it in a hilarious and creative way. The film is layered with heart, brain and hilarity – and it’ll keep you guessing throughout. The characters all get their chances to shine, whether they be comic relief or completely badass at kicking otherworldly robotic ass.

The special effects are impressive and there are tons of laughs throughout the film. It has a fun satirical edge, and it’s a blast of a science fiction film. It further complements the fact that the Wright-Pegg-Frost is one of the strongest teams in satirical comedy, and that their films are great satires and wickedly fun additions to the genre. With “The World’s End,” Wright brings his signature directing style, and makes an ambitious and worthy end to his trilogy. I really can’t wait to watch this in a marathon with the others.

Score88/100

 

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Jack Reacher (2012)

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher

Release Date: December 21, 2012

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Stars: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins

Runtime: 130 min

Tagline: The law has limits. He does not.

A homicide investigator, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims.

Yes, the plot is as simple as it sounds. But it’s effectively simple. It seems that McQuarrie adapts the novel, ‘One Shot’ by Lee Child, very well. While the story is as simple as mystery/thrillers get, it is exciting, and it’s a mystery that often keeps you guessing who is innocent, and who is guilty.

Unfortunately, the simple plot can get silly, and there are a few holes in the story telling. The motive of the baddies is stated, but it is never explored or even fully explained. They’re just up against Mr. Reacher.

Initially, there was some skepticism behind the casting of Tom Cruise, a miniature 5-foot-7 man, playing the 6-foot-5 brute from the novels. There’s a pretty large difference between the two statures. Because, hell, if Reacher is 6-foot-5, I’m Michael Jordan playing basketball poorly. It’s just not something you’re going to believe. Anyway, the end product is superb. Cruise kicks major ass, and after seeing him do it so well, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the shoes of a not-so-over-bearing Reacher.

This is a mystery/thriller that should be treasured during this century. It’s an incredible simple mystery that has some real old-fashioned action sequences that hold you by the throat. Cruise’s undeniable charisma and the helpings of funny lines make it that much more enjoyable, and it holds one’s attention even more. If you ever start to find yourself uninterested, don’t worry, there’s probably a chase scene or a fight scene just around the bend. Hang in there!

The supporting cast help out with carrying the flick, too. Pike is just mighty sexy, and she’s a great British actress to watch. Richard Jenkins is great in just about everything he does, also. Robert Duvall offers more than a few funny lines, and his role is great for that. There are many other performers there, but this is very much Cruise’s show – and no one steals that from him.

If there’s anything better than Cruise himself, it is probably the interesting cinematography or the more-than-unsettling opening scene. The camerawork and there are some nice angles worked into the feature. In the opening scene, the viewer sees all the victims get shot. Right through the scope of the man’s sniper rifle. It goes over everyone the man is planning to kill, and it does it to the sound of his heavy breathing. It is mostly suspenseful because you do not know who he is going to choose. It is one of the most grippingly suspenseful scenes of the feature, and there are only a few other scenes that are better than it.

In a nutshell: Jack Reacher is a very fun mystery action/thriller that offers solid entertainment and more than a few memorable action scenes. The plot is effective and there may be some holes in its story, but that really doesn’t get in the way of enjoyment during. The surprising bites of humour make it that much more and enjoyable, and I am pleased to welcome this old-fashioned-lives-by-his-own-rules investigator to action cinema.

75/100