Directed by Edgar Wright
Simon Pegg reunited with his comedic brother Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright to wrap up what has become known as The Cornetto Trilogy with The World’s End, a sci-fi/comedy film based on a pub crawl that goes horribly awry.
Of course the success of the other two films in The Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, meant the bar would be set high for The World’s End, and as would be expected from Pegg, Frost and Wright, they delivered in spades. The film itself is a wonderful treat, filled with big laughs, real emotion and some seriously amazing special F/X, but fans who dive in for the Blu-ray version will be additionally treated to a package overflowing with special features.
The World’s End stars Pegg as Gary King, a man who nearly completed a 12-bar pub crawl called The Golden Mile when he was 19-years old in the town of Newton Haven. That night, he and four friends had the time of their lives, drinking, carousing and looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead on the road of life. Four of the boys moved on, started families, became successful businessmen…Gary did not. Unable or unwilling to grow up, Gary gets the idea in his head to reunite with his old chums 20 years later and attempt The Golden Mile once more, and this time make it to the final bar, The World’s End.
Unfortunately for the group, things don’t go as planned. There’s fighting, police involvement and a little matter of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type alien infestation going on right under their noses. Things go from bad to hilariously worse as they often do when Pegg and Frost are involved and before long they find themselves directly at odds with the alien menace.
As would be expected, Pegg is outstanding. He’s manic. He’s marvelously out of control. Still sporting the same clothes he wore on the original pub crawl 20 years earlier, Pegg plays King as a clown, but also a tragic character. Gary can’t move on. His life stopped advancing at age 19 and he became a straw dog, tossed away after being revered in his youth. Pegg brilliantly brings all this out on the screen not only with his outrageous actions and expressions, but with a real depth of acting that we don’t always associate with the guy we best remember walking around with a white shirt and tie brandishing a cricket bat and trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Gary is an utter disaster and the focal point of the film, however his cohorts contribute mightily. And none more than Pegg’s regular partner, Nick Frost. Frost plays Andy, the one who was closest to Gary in their youth and the most hurt by Gary’s reckless behavior. Andy comes along for The Golden Mile even though he hasn’t taken a drink in well over a decade. Frost plays the stuffy Andy with a great dry, comedic style, but is even more effective when Andy finally comes out of his shell. And in addition to the comedic delivery, Frost brings it harder than anyone else in the film when it comes to the elaborate fight scenes featured in The World’s End. For a comedy/sci-fi film, the fights are intense with some very, very complicated choreography.
The movie itself has a very ‘who says you can’t go home again’ message to it, as the quintet try to recapture a fleeting moment of their youth. Although to the other four, it’s no big deal, we learn that it is indeed all that Gary has left as he’s fallen that far. So no matter what happens to them, they willcontinue along The Golden Mile. And what we must remember is they are having a pint at each bar, so as the movie rolls on, all the characters are getting progressively drunker, making for some hilarious scenes and conversations.
The sci-fi element of the film is very prevalent and director Wright wastes no time getting to it. After only about a half hour of set up time, the fantastical portion of the movie arrives and twists the entire thing on its ear. The addition of the aliens to The World’s End not only brings about some very original and expertly conceived special F/X, but enhances the comedy as well, including a scene that felt very much like a comedic take on John Carpenter’s The Thing as Gary, Andy and the rest of the crew try to decide who is an alien ‘blank’ and who’s still human. Apparently the fact that you’re sporting a huge Sisters of Mercy tattoo on your chest is not enough to prove you’re human.
The World’s End is a social science fiction movie played out by a brilliant comedic cast. There are statements on the effect of technology on society and about how the small town you grew up in never seems the same when you go back. It’s filled with touching moments from many of the characters that will nearly bring a tear to your eye, that is until Pegg rattles off a line like, “Ah, fuck off back to Legoland you cunts!” Things like that tend to mellow out any emotional imbalances. And it features what may be the most perfect use of The Doors’ Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) ever used in film. This is a top notch thrill ride loaded with outstanding comedy, a great story and unbelievable special F/X. Definitely one to see.
As for the special features, they are voluminous. You’ve got a funny deleted scene, about 10 minutes of goofy outtakes and a bunch of alternate edits to set the table. Then you get into the real meat of the special features. A 45-minute piece entitled Completing the Golden Mile-The Making of The World’s End is the highlight of the bonus material as it offers a tremendously in-depth look from all the actors, the director and many members of the production crew as to what went into making the movie. Wright and Pegg even go back and discuss early writing session ideas.
Equally as entertaining and informative is Filling in the Blanks another thorough piece describing the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating the special F/X for The World’s End. Those who have seen the film know that it did not call for your traditional F/X requirements. Some of the elements this creative team was tasked with bringing to life were absolutely astonishing and it was intriguing to see just how it was done.
The bonus features also include a U-Control option to customize your viewing experience with optional features and also your standard fare, commentary tracks, trailers, etc., but go even deeper with some original script readings and other entertaining nuggets they dug deep to bring you. A quality offering all around!
The World’s End stunt and VFX teams. Watch rehearsals of intricate fight scenes choreographed by some of the movies’ best stuntmen. Learn how the VFX team enhances the existing footage to perfect the film’s look and style. (Blu-ray only)
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions
Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.
Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).
What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.
While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.
Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.
While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.
With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.
Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.
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