The World’s End

Magnifying the crisis in midlife crisis, arrested adolescent Gary King (Simon Pegg) coaxes his better-adjusted childhood chums to revisit their hometown and reattempt the feat that conquered them 20 years earlier: drinking their way through all 12 pubs of Newton Haven’s Golden Mile. Last stop: The World’s End. The five friends soon realize that most of the citizenry—including two of their own—have been replaced by alien automatons (“blanks”) and that sleepy Newton Haven is the beachhead for world conquest. Pub crawl turns pub brawl as the friends, inexplicably endowed with martial arts prowess, slaughter scores of Blanks while staggering from pub to pub. Reaching The World’s End, the trio of survivors must thwart the alien invasion, save mankind…and slug one last pint! a parody of zombie apocalypse films than an homage to them, the story of old friends reliving their pubquest becomes a contrived battle of good versus evil. On occasion, the two concepts happily converge. Though Pegg and director Edgar Wright’s script is steeped in British humor, many examples are frivolous. Still, this final chapter of “The Cornetto Trilogy” (following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), an inside joke involving Cornetto brand ice cream flavors, is beautifully crafted.

Effects-driven scenes offer show-off-quality sonics, with a soundtrack that delivers enveloping surround, precise spatial cues, and explosive frequency and dynamic range. Dialogue is consistently articulate. Image quality is equally excellent. Transpiring mostly at night and in darkened pubs, Wright’s complex, center-weighted lighting is rendered with near-perfect contrast. Fleshtones lack the heavy (read: artificial) saturation of many modern films, but closer inspection reveals that colors are natural and balanced rather than muted.

Attention to detail continues with 16 extras: Topics from “Alternate Edits” to “Hair and Makeup Tests” give fans a panoramic view of this film’s construction. While most Blu-ray commentaries are merely the fulfillment of contractual obligations, Pegg, Wright, and company make their contributions interesting, informative…and fun! Interactivity is limited to Storyboard Picture-in-Picture and BD-Live.

Not everyone’s cup of tea—or pint of bitter—but The World’s End has plenty to recommend it.

Studio: Universal, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 109 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman