The World's End
Director: Edgar Wright.
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan.
SOMETIMES movies come in pairs.
Like when Deep Impact and Armageddon came out within months of each other. Or Dante's Peak and Volcano. Or The Illusionist and The Prestige. Or Antz and A Bug's Life.
This year, it's This Is The End and The World's End - two ensemble-cast bromance comedies revolving around some kind of apocalypse.
The good news is both are great, but both are very different indeed, so don't get confused.
This Is The End is a laugh-out-loud barrage of idiocy that pokes fun at actors while dabbling with some notion of redemption and self-sacrifice.
The World's End digs deeper, hits harder, and delivers on more levels - it may not be quite as funny as This Is The End, nor is it as funny as its predecessors in the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz), but this has more to say than any of those films.
Pegg again takes the lead as another deeply flawed protaganist, although one far less likeable than Shaun (Shaun Of The Dead) or Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz). He plays Gary King, a man-child who never grew up or got over the "greatest night of his life" - the end-of-school pub crawl he attempted with his buddies Andy (Frost), Steve (Considine), Oliver (Freeman) and Peter (Marsan) back in 1990.
Keen to have another crack at the crawl (they never did make it to final pub, The World's End), Gary reunites the boys and they return to their old stomping ground of Newton Haven, only to find things have changed for them, the town and the townsfolk, who aren't what they seem to be.
Having dealt with zombies and buddy cop movies in the other Cornetto films, Wright tackles suburban sci-fi, merging elements of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers and The Stepford Wives to create his very own Village Of The Damned.
But this is far less parodic than Hot Fuzz and far less zany and outright comedic than Shaun Of The Dead. The World's End is easily the least humourous film of the trilogy, although it's not without its laughs.
Instead, the movie is more concerned with its big ideas - the dangers of nostalgia, the "Starbucking" of towns and the commercialisation of identity, the pros and cons of growing up, the struggles of addiction, the depths of friendships, the horrors of mankind, the scars of the past, the inevitability of our own destruction, and what it means to be human.
The Cornetto Trilogy deserves to be studied in schools for many reasons, particularly its themes and its cultural commentary, and The World's End doesn't let the team down.
Of course, there is much more to The World's End than its attempts to get you thinking. What helps make it great is that this brain fodder is wrapped up in a thoroughly enjoyable film.
There is nothing quite as awesome as watching Frost, resigned to the role of lovely dunce in Hot Fuzz and Shaun, come to the fore and become an action hero. Seeing him drop a pub full of bad guys with nothing but two bar stools is a cinematic delight.
That's just one of the many wonderfully choreographed fight scenes throughout the film, the first of which comes when the plot takes a welcome left-turn into sci-fi territory.
There's a great soundtrack of '90s nostalgia (Primal Scream, Blur, Soup Dragons, Suede, Stone Roses), solid performances all round, and a few good laughs (and plenty of consistent giggles).
It's the heaviest and most cerebral of the Cornetto Trilogy, and struggles a bit with figuring out how to reach the titular finale or what it all means, but this is another apocalypse that is worth having.