This is a film that people will really want to like, forming as it does the final act in Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director/writer Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (which riffs on Kieslowski’s Three Colours Blue trilogy and reputedly came about after a reporter pointed out the ice cream connection to Wright, whilst interviewing him to promote ‘Hot Fuzz’) that began with the seminal ‘Shaun of the Dead’ (strawberry) back in 2004, noticeably ran out of gas with 2007’s ‘Hot Fuzz’ (original), and here (mint chocolate chip) all but splutters to a grinding halt, offering but a few sparse gasps of comedy to last us through to the end. It’s a similar set up to before, with the protagonists in mortal peril from bad guys who are superior in numbers – in this case an army of robots that have overrun the small town of Newton Haven and threaten not only the heroes’ lives, but also to interrupt their pub crawl, supposed to end at The World’s End pub which the five friends failed to reach on a similar venture in their youth, two decades earlier.
The popularity of the cast, and that of ‘Shaun of the Dead’, will ensure a lot of grace for this outing, and overall it is easy enough to simply watch, but even the super keen midnight preview audience I was a part of only managed perhaps six or seven laughs throughout, and there’s a feeling of obviousness, a significant drag factor, and a contrived undertow that gives the sense that by trying to mirror the central aspects of their trilogy they have actually crossed the line into becoming a cliché of their own work. Plus they seem to be fighting against the squishiest mechanised monsters in cinema history, that appear to have been assembled out of nothing more than Styrofoam and Silly Putty. Some of the better gags come from their decision to carry on drinking despite the slight snag to their Dionysian plans, but it could really have been milked for a lot more than it is.
Pegg and Frost star, alongside Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and a host of familiar faces in support. Probably best enjoyed after a pub crawl of your own (if you can stay awake until the good bits that is).