Friday, August 23, 2013

Hangover of the Body Snatchers: Reviewing The World's End

After a noisy summer of big battling robots, overblown western legends, monsters attending college and lame science fiction being bested by small-budget scares, it's nice to know the summer movie season ends with an old-fashioned alien invasion

That is, an alien invasion dreamed up by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. They wrap up the Cornetto Trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) with a sci-fi comedy called The World's End. Pegg plays Gary King, a guy who's facing 40 but wants to grab a bit of the glory he used to enjoy as a teen in the town of Newton Haven in 1990. Back then, he tried to complete"The Golden Mile", drinking beer in the 12 pubs. Now, he wants to finish what he started.
He rounds up his posse of Andy (Nick Frost), Steven (Paddy Constantine), Oliver (Martin Freeman) and Peter (Eddie Marsan). After 20 years, though, Gary has tried to maintain his free spirit while his friends have tossed away theirs in favor of suits and steady jobs. Andy points out that he hasn't had a drink in 16 years after a big accident. Still, they travel to their home town in the same car Gary had, called "the Beast". They also meet up with Oliver's sister, Sam (Rosamund Pike), who Gary and Steven had a thing for.

Once they get to Newton Haven, it looks like nothing much has changed, except things are a bit too quiet and perfect. Gary soon finds out why: the town's been taken over by fake people as part of an alien invasion, although they prefer the term "redeveloping the town and everyone in it...for their own good." They can even clone some of the locals,  and use them as "bait" to unsuspecting people about to be assimiliated. Consider it like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except the aliens use a great sales pitch rather than pods.

While they could get away, Gary suggests they continue their pub crawl, so that the "blanks" (their name for the fake people) don't get suspicious. It soon becomes a battle between Gary and his crew and the "blanks" who follow them everywhere. The fight scenes in the movie are great, especially when they take the "blanks" apart. Pegg really puts his all as the too-afraid-to-grow-up Gary, who thinks reaching the Golden Mile will make up for the disappointments of his life. However, you also see his friends, especially Andy, fight the very thing they've become--corporate slaves in nice suits--which is also what the aliens want them to be. That's a nice twist in the story.

The soundtrack is also a blast, especially for those who remember the '90s. It includes The Doors, Housemartins, Primal Scream (whose song plays a big part in the final showdown), Blur, Soup Dragons, PM Dawn and the Sundays.

The World's End is a great sci-fi comedy that says a few thinks about leaving your youth behind, but also our need to relive what we think are the best days of our lives. It also shows that sometimes you can't go home again, especially when aliens take over because they want to "improve" the place.

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