Even after 10 years of critical retrospectives, The World’s End remains the least popular of director Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy. Viewers have cited plenty of reasons for this ranking. For starters, The World’s End was cut into two distinct halves: while the opening act was a tragicomic dramedy about a group of old friends reuniting to relive their glory days, the second half devolved into an alien robot romp.
Like the other installments in Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End tossed in an interesting twist, but it just doesn’t work as well as the genre mashups exemplified by Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. Instead, the midway shift revealed that the hero’s hometown had been overrun by alien-robot interlopers, which turned the second half of the movie into a high-octane, fast-paced action comedy with a surprisingly bleak ending. Though the films have gained a cult following over the years, The World’s End remains the least popular movie in the Cornetto Trilogy.
6 The World’s End Is The Darkest Cornetto Trilogy Movie
Easily the darkest movie in the Cornetto Trilogy, The World’s End may not have boasted the high body count of Wright’s other movies, but the approach spoke volumes. Hot Fuzz’s gory, R-rated deaths were facilitated by the silliness of the movie’s supporting characters. Granted, none of the film’s broad caricatures felt like real people. Likewise, Shaun of the Dead’s moving moments had dramatic heft, but those emotional moments were balanced out by the film’s comedy and surprisingly happy ending. On the other hand, The World’s End tackled heavy topics, ranging from substance-use disorder to death by suicide to the dissolution of lifelong friendships.
As Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaborations, both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead conjured a lot of laughs out of the well-worn dynamic between the two veteran comic performers. However, in The World’s End, Frost played a teetotaler who struggled to bond with his former friend, the ever-wild Gary (Pegg). The characters’ uncomfortable dynamic was fraught with tension and a wistful nostalgia for the past. It was hard to shake that kind of downbeat tone, despite the eventual sci-fi silliness. Between the dark themes and all-too-real character dynamics, The World’s End didn’t balance its many contrasting elements as well as Wright’s other films.
5 Shaun Of The Dead & Hot Fuzz Raised Expectations Too High
Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz both featured screenplays stuffed with ingenious gags and twisty plots that felt genuinely inventive. While Shaun of the Dead’s character comedy was more grounded and relatable, Hot Fuzz’s action was more ambitious and impressive. In contrast, the third movie in Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy was almost guaranteed to disappoint, given all the hype. The World’s End had a loose, shaggy feel that was at odds with the relentless comedy of its predecessors. For all their differences, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead felt like part of the same vision, while The World’s End was a definite outlier.
4 Gary King Is Hard To Like (Compared To Shaun & Sgt. Angel)
Pegg imbued Gary King with a mixture of desperation and wistfulness that was both infuriating and charming at the same time. While the actor’s charisma was out in full force, Gary was just painfully immature and self-centered. Even Pegg couldn’t turn the character into a likable everyman akin to Shaun or the deadpan Sgt. Angel. While Shaun of the Dead’s Ed stole every scene he appeared in, the movie still centered on Shaun. It was a lot harder to root for Gary — a fact that was made more evident by The World’s End’s crucial third-act revelation, which lifted Gary’s troubled past directly from Hot Tub Time Machine.
3 The World’s End Removes Simon Pegg & Nick Frost’s Usual Dynamic
In Shaun of the Dead, Frost and Pegg’s characters had a perfect dynamic, namely because they’re best mates when the movie starts. In Hot Fuzz, the duo boasted even better chemistry; as the story unfolded, they became even closer. However, in The World’s End, their characters had a trickier dynamic. They used to be best mates but drifted apart; sadly, audiences didn’t have the chance to see the once-happy pair in action. Since The World’s End also featured a larger ensemble of friends, this further diluted the Pegg-Frost connection, leaving the two performers with precious few moments where their friendship can shine through.
2 The World’s End Relies Less On Easter Eggs
Countless classic horror movies were referenced in Shaun of the Dead, and even more cop thrillers, Giallo movies, slashers, and action hits cropped up throughout Hot Fuzz. However, as befits the darker story of The World’s End, the movie featured fewer Easter eggs, nods to its inspirations, and other fun in-jokes. Compared to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which were stacked with freeze-frame bonuses, The World’s End couldn’t help but feel a little more staid.
This lack of gags didn’t help the movie’s darker tone either. If The World’s End were filled with the sort of throwaway jokes that demand repeat viewings, the movie might have been able to endear itself more to viewers. Instead, The World’s End never quite matched the pace of Gary, who flitted from one subject to another with wild abandon, leaving his friends (and viewers) exhausted. With more sight gags, nods, and in-jokes, the movie could have matched Gary’s frenetic pace.
1 Why The World’s End Is Actually Underrated
The World’s End wasn’t secretly the best movie in the Cornetto trilogy. It was not even the second-best in the series. Even so, it can still be considered underrated. For all its flaws, The World’s End saw Wright attempt something new when he could’ve rested on his laurels. After the costly box office failure of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, it would have been easy for Wright to deliver another crowd-pleasing genre parody. Instead, the director foreshadowed Last Night in Soho’s Giallo revival and Baby Driver’s playful action movie-meets-love story mashup with a more aspirational, offbeat effort. While not everything about The World’s End worked, its ambition deserved applause.