I reviewed Edgar Wright's masterpiece conclusion to the Cornetto Trilogy, The World's End, when it was released (read it here), and found it to be damn near perfect — except for the epilogue, which didn't sit well with me. My reasoning was that I wished "it had been done with more subtlety and a less heavy hand." But you know what? I may have been full of shit on that call. Upon watching the film again (and again and again with the commentary tracks playing), I kind of dig it now. It still pounds home the thematic points with a lack of grace, but it's nice to see that everybody involved does live happily ever after; Especially Gary and his band of Robot Brothers, as he continues to rebel against mainstream attitudes — even in the post-apocalypse.
The film also serves as a follow-up to Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and takes the lessons learned there about fight choreography to another level. There's more than enough emotional bonding, sci-fi action, romance, bromance, and insane action sequences in this film to satisfy anyone looking for a good time. And you might feel a little tug at our heartstrings, too.
I don't think it's a reach to say that this was maybe the best science fiction film of the year. And maybe the best comedy, too.
As far as the Blu-ray presentation, there's not a lot to say. The picture is pristine with a 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer and the audio, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track, can't be beat. Universal has put together a package here that puts other companies to shame (I'm looking at you Warner Bros. and your most fuckest uppest Man of Steel release)
Feature Commentary: Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg discuss the writing process for The World's End, taking us through changes and spotlighting bits of trivia that really emphasize just how tightly written this screenplay is; from symbolism in the character names, to what the pub names reveal about the plot, to making plain the themes of this film and how they relate to the other films in the Cornetto Trilogy. If you write, you should listen.
Technical Commentary: This time out, it's Edgar Wright and Director of Photography Bill Pope, breaking down the technical side of the film. This one is packed with tidbits about the filmmaking process, how certain scenes were constructed, lit, and filmed. It gives you a real insight into what goes into putting Wright's vision on the screen and is surprisingly engaging. I found it almost as entertaining as listening to Wright and Pegg. And if you make films, you should listen.
Cast Commentary: Pegg, Nick Frost, and Paddy Considine shoot the shit from start to finish on this commentary track, and it is often hilarious – particularly the non-stop mockery of Martin Freeman (featuring a spot-on Ian McKellen impression). There's less actual insight into the filmmaking on this track, but it's still so damned entertaining that I recommend listening to it, too.
U-Control Storyboard PiP: This is a Picture-in-Picture option that keeps the storyboards for the film on-screen during the duration of the film. It's interesting for a while, but mostly to see just how closely Wright stuck to the original ideas when actually filming.
Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World's End: Just what it says, this takes you through the entire filming of The World's End. It's informative and entertaining. Highly recommended viewing.
Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World's End: A companion piece to Completing the Golden Mile, this one looks at the stunt work and the visual effects. Also informative and entertaining. Honestly, there's not a lot on this disc that doesn't inform and entertain.
VFX Breakdown: This one goes though most of the visual effects shots in the film one at a time, breaking them down into the layers of what was originally shot, what was then cut together from overlay footage, and then what was added in (or taken out) digitally.
Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart: Wright and Pegg give us a look at the process of breaking down most of the story elements before putting it all into the script by looking at the original notes — written on an oversized notepad on a stand, accompanied by many, many wisecracks.
Signs & Omens: Short piece highlighting some of the easter eggs that are scattered throughout the film. Seriously, this film is so densely packed with images, symbolism, and jokes, that you can probably watch it for weeks and still not catch everything that's going on.
TV Safe Version: This might be my favorite feature. It's the entire film boiled down into a four-minute version, with all the swearing redubbed to make it TV-friendly. It's pretty funking funny.
Trivia Track: This option allows for pop-up trivia featuring even more behind-the-scenes commentary and unpacking of images than you get with all the other commentaries and features combined. There's a fair amount of overlap here, but there's also some tidbits that are only found here.
And More: Honestly, there's so much going on with the extras that I'm a little overwhelmed. There are outtakes that are good for a laugh, rehearsal footage of the cast going through the action beats, stunt sequence pre-filming breakdowns, animatics, hair and make-up tests (which are surprisingly entertaining as well), a deleted scene, and more.
The World's End (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet) retails for $34.98 but can be had for much less and hits the shelves on Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.