The World’s End (2013)


That’s Why I Drink Using a Crazy Straw.  Not So Crazy Now!

The World's End (2013)When this movie was out in theaters, I was very excited to see it.  It was the third outing for a director I love, two writers I love, and two actors I love.  I even saw this movie while it was still in theaters.  And then I forgot to review it.  My notes must’ve gotten covered up on my desk and I eventually just forgot that I hadn’t done it yet.  I’ve even reviewed the other two movies in the trilogy in preparation for this review!  Then, when this movie came out on DVD on Tuesday, I went to repost my review to let people know if they should buy it, only to find that I had failed you all.  Well no more!  Today, I bring you my late review of The World’s End, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Nighy.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) sets his sights on getting the band back together, recruiting his old high school friends – Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) – to finish the 12 bar pub crawl that they attempted and failed 20 years earlier.  The other friends have all grown up and none are interested in making the attempt, but Gary manages to persuade all of them anyway.  But when the group arrives in Newton Haven, they find that things have changed.  Is it because they’ve all grown older, or is it because the town has been taken over by alien robots?  Who can say, really?

The problem I had with this movie is that it was part of the Cornetto trilogy.  On its own, I imagine I would’ve thought it was fantastic.  I guess I still did, but the problem is that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were superior.  So it’s the worst of the Cornetto trilogy, but still one of the best comedies of this year.  It’s a lot of the writing that makes these movies so enjoyable.  They’re chock full of fantastic wordplay and the stories are so well thought out that they you have to really pay attention to the little things to see all of the hidden jokes.  But I greatly appreciate some good wordplay.  Their Peter/Paul run was good, Dr. Ink was great once I figured it out, the white lie of his mother’s death line was hilarious, and many of the selective memory jokes were all the reasons that these movies stand apart so well.  I also appreciated all the ways Gary misunderstood what people were saying to him, like when he said, “What the fuck does WTF mean?”  But I think the thing I always appreciated most about these Cornetto movies is how they foreshadow everything that’s going to happen in various different ways; be they from off-handed remarks people make to the names of the bars and the order they’re in.  They’ve always been expertly hidden in their movies.  I know that I had to watch Shaun of the Dead a second time before I truly saw the brilliance of the movie.  This movie does the same thing, but part of the problem is that I expected the foreshadowing because of their other two movies, and it can kind of spoil the outcome.  Though the outcome isn’t the biggest twist in the world, so it isn’t that big of a loss.

Another thing that sets the Cornetto movies apart from most comedies is that they are legitimately good examples of the movie types they’re parodying.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie movies.  Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite action movies.  And now The World’s End would definitely fit towards the top of my science fiction movies.  They have some great special effects and some fantastic action as well.  Where else might you see Simon Pegg Rock Bottom someone and Nick Frost deliver a People’s Elbow?  Then there’s a big fight where Nick Frost lays a beating down on a room full of robots and Simon Pegg fights like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master.  I’m 100% behind all of this!

No surprises here, but I still love all the people I loved before I even started watching this movie.  And I started loving those I was indifferent to.  Simon Pegg is still fantastic.  He did a great job of being funny and always appearing jovial while still seeming like there was some depression hiding just beneath the surface.  Nick Frost was losing me towards the beginning of the movie when he was straight-laced and generally being a dick to Simon, but once he starts slamming down the shots he got back to the Nick Frost I love.  Also, this movie has the second James Bond in one of the Cornetto trilogy (Pierce Brosnan.  Hot Fuzz had Timothy Dalton) and the first one to have a Bond girl (Rosamund Pike).  Interesting fact, but not interesting enough to give me something else to say about it.

I would say that The World’s End is the weakest of the three movies in the Cornetto Trilogy, but with the level of competition offered by the other two that’s not saying much.  The World’s End is a great movie on its own, but it can be somewhat hindered by the comparison.  The story is good though it gets a little heavy handed at the end, but how well it’s planned out and how well the jokes are written can easily overcome that minor problem.  It’s also got some really good action scenes and a phenomenal cast.  This is still definitely a movie that’s worth seeing.  In fact, it’s good enough to just go out and buy.  The World’s End gets “I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last 10 minutes beats ‘smashy smashy egg men’” out of “There’s only one Gary King!”

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Wrath of the Titans (2012)


You’re Sweating Like a Human.

I shouldn’t have wanted to see today’s movie, but I inexplicably did.  I saw the original movie a really long time ago and absolutely loved it.  Then they remade that movie, and it was disappointing and dumb.  Then they made a sequel to that, and the response was pretty consistently that it was worse than the first.  Whether it was my love of the subject matter or just the expectation of the fun that can accompany a big dumb action movie, I really couldn’t say.  But I wanted to see it.  Not enough to make me go to the theaters for it, and not enough to make my buy it on DVD when it was released.  But, when my roommate Richard showed me a selection of 5 movies he had purchased digitally to watch, I instantly picked this one.  How’d it go?  You’ll find out in my review for Wrath of the Titans, written by Dan Mazeau, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Édgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, and John Bell.

Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), is trying to live the quiet life of a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell), after his famed defeat of the mighty Kraken.  Zeus visits Perseus to warn him that the power of the gods is weakening and the walls of Tartarus that contain Zeus’ father, the mighty titan Kronos, are breaking down.  Perseus tells Zeus where he can cram it.  Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston), and Ares (Édgar Ramirez) and Hades jump Zeus and Poseidon, capturing Zeus and mortally wounding Poseidon.  As Ares and Hades set Zeus up to have his powers drained by Kronos, Poseidon travels to Perseus to tell him what happened.  With Poseidon’s trident, and Poseidon’s son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), as well as Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Perseus sets out to meet with Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) to find a weapon powerful enough to defeat Kronos.

Yet another disappointing outing for Greek mythology.  I’ve had a love for Greek mythology since my childhood which makes it even more disappointing that I haven’t seen a good movie about that era in a while.  300 was in 2007 and Troy was 2004, and neither of those was actually a mythology thing as much as it just happened around that time, and those gods were mentioned in passing.  Since then I’ve seen Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, and Immortals, and none of those movies made a good run at it.  But, one thing this movie does have going for it that the Clash of the Titans remake did not is that this movie isn’t shitting on a movie I love.  This is a somewhat original idea that wasn’t very good.  It’s only loosely based on any kind of mythology, and pretty much the only thing that makes it Greek mythology is the name and relationships of the characters.  Since it has nothing at all to do with any Greek mythology, I probably would’ve been happier with it if they had just made it their own story and not included Zeus and Perseus and all the rest of them.  But, if they just made this exact movie about the demigod Steve and his father, the god Mike, I probably wouldn’t have been interested anyway, so fuck me I guess.  Well the story wasn’t great either way.  It’s mainly just about a couple of people wandering through various green-screened settings until they find a stick that kills the big bad thing.  Also, my recollection of the Clash remake is that it was mostly about how humans didn’t need the gods to achieve something.  I recall Perseus refusing to use his fancy god weapons because of this, but this one goes exactly opposite that.  Perseus can’t do shit without the fancy god weapon in this one, so he spends the entire movie looking for it.  The more human Perseus also tries fighting the more god Ares multiple times during the movie, but humanity certainly isn’t good enough this time around.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  Also, the defeat of Ares is super disappointing, as Perseus beats him with a rear naked choke hold.  Which means, for the audience, that Perseus jumped on Ares’ back and wrapped his arm around Ares’ neck and it just became a race to see if Ares or the audience would fall asleep first.  The conclusion of the entire movie was also very disappointing.  First, the defeat of Kronos felt like not much more than Perseus dropping a shiny toothpick down Kronos’ gullet.  ::END SPOILERS::  The very ending of the movie was just kind of confusing and lame.  The god’s have a big walk off into the sunset kind of thing, the humans celebrate Perseus’ victory, something about training Perseus’ son to be a soldier.  I don’t really know what happened because it was rushed and confusing.  All I really know that happened was that I was disappointed.

In the movie’s defense, the look and scale of the movie was all pretty damned epic.  They have a cool looking chimera that was probably in God of War, a giant lava guy that was probably in God of War, an epic Labyrinth that I’m pretty sure was in God of War, and a bald white guy with red symbols painted on him and swords chained to his wrist, but I didn’t recognize him.  The look of the movie seems to owe a lot to the God of War games, but there’s a chance that it wasn’t just a straight rip off.  But if Kronos wasn’t ripped off from God of War, it’s entirely possible that it was just a slightly altered remake of the Balrog from Lord of the Rings.  I also liked the guys with two torsos that were fighting in the last battle.  They worked pretty well.  Also, when Zeus and Hades teamed up to kick some ass, I thought that was very exciting.  Though most of the stuff in the look of the movie felt like I had seen it before, I don’t mean to take away from its scale and grandeur.  It was possibly the only thing in this movie that was actually well done.

The performances were about as hit or miss as you can get.  Sam Worthington has never impressed me.  He’s been in good movies before, but he’s never been what’s made them good as far as I’m concerned.  He’s not so much a bad actor, but he’s certainly not a good one.  And I guess it runs in the family, because the kid who played his son (Yes, I know that John Bell is not his real son.  The last names kind of gave it away for me) got on my nerves.  His biggest performance requirement was just to stand in the background of scenes and stare, dumbfounded.  It’s no surprise that Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes can bring it in the performance department, but it might be a surprise that they actually bothered to bring it for this movie.  They both did good jobs, but every time I saw them I just kept thinking about how the last time they were together before these movies was for Schindler’s List.  That’s fuckin crazy!  I would also count myself as a fan of Bill Nighy, but it occurs to me that this man does not do subtle.  It usually works for him though.  Also, that Bubo, the golden owl from the original Clash of the Titans, shows up in this movie was very exciting to me.  Not that it did anything, but it was there, man!

It didn’t come as a surprise for me that Wrath of the Titans was disappointing.  I was right in assuming that the story would have nothing to offer and I was right to assume that the only performances I’d like would be Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, but I at least hoped that the action in this big dumb action movie would be satisfying.  Imagine my surprise when it was also disappointing.  The only things I really enjoyed about this movie were the visuals, but I feel like I can get most of that by playing God of War, and I’d enjoy myself more.  Wrath of the Titans isn’t bad enough that I would say don’t watch it, but it’s also not good enough that I’d recommend it.  If nothing else, get it from RedBox for a day and go in with low expectations.  Wrath of the Titans gets “Hades, I am so sorry for having done this to you” out of “Because I forgive you for this.”

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