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Saturday Horror Movies :: The World’s End and World War Z

This week’s theme, of sorts, was current invasion movies. One, the end of a trilogy, a lighter side of alien invasion brought to us by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The final chapter of the “Cornetto trilogy” was full of all the things that made the first two films so enjoyable, and memorable – small town characters, local pub life, laughs, scares and one hell of a soundtrack. On a more serious side, and at the start of a rumored trilogy, was yet another story of zombie invasion. This is the film version of the well-received book of the same name, by Max Brooks, which stars Brad Pitt, as well as the soon to be “New Doctor“, Peter Capaldi (ironically cast as a W.H.O. Doctor). This was a fast-paced, high anxiety race for a cure type of film, surprisingly better than I anticipated. Both daughters joined us on our double feature this week, adding to the impact of both movies as only shared reactions and energy can. This was a much better Saturday selection than the past week, as both films were one hell of a good time.

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The World’s End (2013)

I may not have grown up in the UK, nor been on an actual “pub crawl“, but I do remember what it was like to have crazy adventures with a group of friends that included drinking, “experiences” in the “disabled“, and unforgettable music. I lived out the live fast lifestyle of Primal Scream’s Loaded and The Soup Dragons’ I’m Free songs, and though I am quite sure I will never attempt to relive those half-blurred nights, there are times when I wax nostalgic and find myself momentarily wishing for a one-night redo.

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For our protagonist, Gary King (Simon Pegg) though, I think it is more than a fleeting wish that leads him to round up his four friends that make up his “Five Musketeers” for a reattempt at an epic pub crawl that leads to, and ends at, The World’s End pub in their hometown of Newton Haven. For Gary, it is more of a on the cusp death rattle try at finding meaning in his life again by trying to recreate the best part of his life. A heavy set-up for a comedy, but as with the previous “Cornetto Trilogy” films, there is always an element of self-discovery going on, and an ever deeper meaning to the always witty plots.

Gary succeeds in convincing his friends, and with that we are off on the road to epic-ness.

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Overall, this film felt like a gift to the fans, and a welcome one at that. It was fun, really fun, and had everything one would want this film to be. I loved the music more than anything else, and found myself reminded, as each next song played, of my own moments of lost youth.

The movie is fast paced, taking most scenes and playing them out in a similar fast-forward feeling that we saw in the “this is what we are going to do” scenes of Shaun of the Dead, where Shaun would list out their plan, and subsequent revisions.

There is a truly epic pub fight that is reminiscent of the brilliantly choreographed scene from Shaun of the Dead that was set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. In this film the scene did not have the same impact, due in my opinion to the song choice used, but there is still brilliance in the actual physical choreography of the scene, especially when watching Simon Pegg’s Gary try to dodge fighters and still finish his beer.

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There are some great guest stars, most enjoyable to me being David Bradley who I just recently enjoyed watching on Broadchurch. Rosamund Pike kicked some serious ass as Sam in this film, an actress who was quite memorable previously as Jane in Pride and Prejudice (and who I see has been cast as Amy in the upcoming film version of Gone Girl). And, of course there is the irrepressible Pierce Brosnan, who I would argue is perfect in just about any role handed him.

The “other” three of the four friends do a great job in their varying roles, and each have their “moment” where I could not help but cheer them on, but honestly the real story is the continuing bromance of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

To me their Gary and Andy are a continuation of Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead, and are the love story of the ages as far as I’m concerned – and not in a fan-fiction kind of way –  but in a “one true pair of best friends” kind of way. I actually teared up when Gary and Andy had their “moment“, and Andy explains how it was for him when Gary OD’ed and he had terrible accident trying to get him to the accident and emergency (again, I know, heavy shit for a comedy).

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I’m Free :: The Soup Dragons

This Corrosion :: Sisters of Mercy

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I’m pretty sure I dated Gary King when I was 19, or at least a boy who had that same trench coat and Sisters of Mercy tee shirt.

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World War Z (2013)

I went in to watching World War Z with low expectations. I am not sure why, but I expected not to enjoy the film. I am a connoisseur of both zombie and vampire stories, but as of late there has been so many tellings, and re-tellings, of both genres that I have become very jaded. With this film, though, my expectations were wrong. I was thrilled and riveted by the film from its fast-paced start to its emotional ending. This was one hell of a ride, intense and human, and miles more than I ever thought it would be.

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We first meet our hero, Gerry, as a loving husband and newly stay-at-home Father. He and his family share a warm breakfast moment together, seeming to ignore the violence showing on the television screen except for a quick question from one of the daughters which leads to an early reveal that Gerry has experience in dangerous war-time situations, but nothing more is said about anything else beyond pancakes. We see the family next in a typical car setting, talking and joking between themselves, in city traffic that, at first, does not seem all that foreboding, but this is a zombie film, and we know right away that this is going to be anything but traffic.

Before you can even take a breath the action hits, and hits hard. My heart was racing, and my breath was now being held, as I watched the family try to get out of the mayhem that represents one of the “chapters” from Max Brooks’ novel, about the take down of New York City.

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The family faces a few notable obstacles before finding shelter via the kindness of strangers. The family themselves, Gerry and his wife and children, to me represented all families in this story, and the humanity that the “zombie” invasion threatens. It is the humanity that I am so drawn to in zombie stories, and in these opening scenes were are shown a very intimate look into the nuclear family. We know that this – family – is the “humanity” that our hero will be fighting for, and what we, as the audience, will be rooting for.

On a somewhat side note, I have to say that the scenes between Gerry and his daughter were so tender and heartfelt that they brought tears to my eyes. It made me pause to imagine what Brad Pitt may be as a Father.

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The invasion continues and grows exponentially. All hope seems near lost, and our hero, Gerry, is set out to help find a cure. Through Gerry, we are shown different parts of the world, and in tandem, different chapters from the original book. Destruction is everywhere, it is universal, it is humans versus nature which is explained in a rather interesting way when a scientist explains that “‘Mother nature is a serial killer. The best there is.” The horde scene is visually stunning, and terrifying, as we watch the invasion pile one atop each other to make their way to the other side of the wall of Jerusalem.

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It is in this overtaking horror that we meet my favorite character of the film, Segen (which translates to lieutenant in Hebrew). She is both warrior and child, an interesting dichotomy in this fight for humanity. She represents the battle that she and Gerry are fighting against, now together, and the humanity, and family that they are fighting for. There are tender moments between Gerry and Segen that were very similar to the early scenes we witnessed between Gerry and his own daughters, which to me illustrated beautifully the hope we all hold on to in this world, whether we are facing zombies, or not.

Score by Marco Beltrami

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If we do get a sequel I hope we get more of the camaraderie and friendship between Segen and Gerry.

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