Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Five Men, Twelve Bars, and Much Arguing Over Terminology

I caught most of The World's End on TV a couple of nights ago, when I was trying to avoid watching Cardinals-Eagles*, and once Ash vs. Evil Dead was over.

Gary (Simon Pegg) tries to gather his old crew of friends from high school to return to their old stomping grounds and complete some epic pub crawl. The others are all varying degrees of reluctant, but are eventually convinced. Except the town isn't quite as they remember it, owing to an alien invasion, against which they struggle to decide what to do. Mostly about what to call their foes, and occasionally they actually fight them.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to agree with their decision or not. I'm inclined to, because the aliens' need to sacrifice some humans for the purpose of the allegedly benevolent plan seems wrong. Also the, "We're just trying to make you better," argument bugged me. Of course, Gary, Andy, and Stephen are drunk off their asses at the time, and the closing moments of the argument are basically a kid having a screaming match with their parent, ending with the parent throwing up their hands and walking away. Which destroys civilization. So sticking up for humans having the chance to make their own choices, rather than being forced to conform to some other groups' definition of civilized seems like a bad thing? None of the guys seem to regret it, but I'd imagine there were a lot of people who died as a result of their actions who might feel differently.

I probably identified with Gary more than I was supposed to. The whole point seems to be that he's stuck in the past. He's very much of the opinion high school was the high point of his existence, and desperately trying to recapture that feeling, but he does so by trying to relive fond memories from the past. The others have had some of the same disillusionment about adulthood, but you can tell they've all at least tried to move ahead with their lives. Get jobs, have families and relationships. They aren't idyllic, but they made some sort of effort. Which is why, after, they mostly resume the lives they had before, in some sense. Gary is still trying to create that future he thought was waiting for him, which is turning the situation to his advantage, I guess? Pretty sure we're not supposed to find that healthy.

So there are a lot of things about the film I'm unsure of. Probably because I finally got around to watching Hot Fuzz a few months ago, with commentary on. At the end, Pegg and Edgar Wright discuss how, after everything that's happened, Sgt. Angel has embraced becoming the excessive force using, major property damage causing action hero cliche that Danny believed was being a cop. Which surprised me, because I'd never interpreted it that way. Just because Nicholas decides to burn rubber to rush over to deal with some loitering teens, I didn't take it that he was going to scrap all that "effective at establishing a positive presence in the community" stuff he was known for when the film started. But given the lead actor and the director said it, I felt like I had to reconsider everything (even while recognizing they perhaps weren't serious, but they didn't sound like they were joking).

So I don't know what I should take away from The World's End. I liked the fight scenes, I felt a certain kinship with Andy (Nick Frost), in the sense of having a friend who frustrates the hell out of you, but you still feel compelled to look after him. Though Alex really hasn't prompted that in several years, but the memories are still strong. So still more Gary than is healthy, then. There were times the alien aspect felt shoehorned in, like it would have worked fine as just as movie about 5 guys who used to be close friends getting together for one big thing, and it doesn't really work out. I think I still like this more than Shaun of the Dead, if only because of my apathy towards zombie films, but they're both far behind Hot Fuzz for me.

* Which I didn't entirely manage, and I really wish I had, considering I turned over there just in time to see Mathieu suffer a season-ending knee injury while making a game-clinching INT. Last year, I switched over late in the Rams-Cardinals game just in time to see Drew Stanton go down with a knee injury, thus bringing on the nightmare that was Ryan Lindley at QB.


Kelvin Green said...

Shaun of the Dead was okay, and I didn't get on with Hot Fuzz at all, and then I loved The World's End, which is the one everyone else seems to like the least. Weird.

CalvinPitt said...

I think Hot Fuzz works for me because I really like action flicks, even if they're kind of dumb, a lot more than the genres the other two movies were working in, and so the beats and in-jokes worked better. I guess that makes it a good thing they did three different genres, though. Something for everyone.

SallyP said...

Hot Fuzz remains my absolute favorite, the juxtapositioning of the idyllic countryside and the incredible gore, is weirdly hilarious.