Thursday, August 29, 2013

"The World's End": British horror comedy combines "Judas Kiss" with "Body Snatchers", "Terminator", and "Revolution"; King just wants to scream "I'm free!"

Oh, you’re not supposed to take a wacky apocalyptic British comedy “The World’s End”, by  Edgar Wright, too seriously.  But there real is a lot going on here, to relate to other films, and to serious warnings.

In the beginning, in 1990,  five friends, just too young for chest hair, ready to leave prep school, get initiated with a pub crawl in Newton’s Haven, a wonderful little highlands town that looks like a Shakespeare set (with cars and modernity).  Something bizarre happened at the last pub, the source of the movie’s name.

Twenty some years later, the men get together for the ritual again.  Twenty years has aged them.  The ring leader is Gary King (writer Simon Pegg) who constantly says “I want to be free to do what I want to do.”  One of the friends is a teetotaler.

There's trouble pretty quickly.  One of the bars (with the word "cock" in its name) tosses the brew crew because King is banned there for life after a brawl twenty years ago.  I didn't know that bars could have such long memories.
    
Things get wild forty minutes into the film, with a restroom encounter with a young man who looks a bit like one of the men twenty years ago.  My immediate thought is, “Judas Kiss” (June 4, 2011 here).  But that is not to be.  There is no love for younger selves.  Soon the five find themselves in slapstick battles with robots (not exactly zombies) whose heads come off without stopping them. Oh, the cyborgs are made of smart material that regenerates itself.  Their synthetic blood (good for transfusions maybe) is blue.

At the last pub, the friends are challenged, and can contemplate the idea of having their old younger bodies, albeit as robots with their memories.  Okay, that’s a rip-off of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Really, wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up tomorrow morning and have my body as it was at, say, age 21?   Some of the friends could use a makeover;  Steve has just a mid-chest tattoo (no hair, still), and one of the other guy’s legs is severely scarred.  The script makes something of physical decline  (“tissue death” as Dr. Phil calls it) and a desire to reverse it. 

The stakes are even higher.  First, it seems that all they need to go is get out of town.  But the rest of the world will not be all right, either.  Say the concept is a bit like the NBC series “Revolution”, except that the physical destruction is manifest.  Electricity will go away, and so will the Internet.  But the friends will be able to teach others to live simply.

A Mick Jagger song “I’m free” is one of the many included.  See my review of a short film by that name May 13, 2013 here.  The pieces all fit.

The website from Focus Features is here.  There is even a quiz!


I saw the film at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington, in the reclining lounge chairs, and although the auditorium is smaller (84 seats), it nearly sold out even on a weeknight.  The digital presentation (2.35:1) is crisp.  This film could have used 3-D.  The music score by Steven Price often paraphrases some music from one of the Shostakovich symphonies (I think the 8th), a duple-time march. 




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