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Hot Fuzz (2007)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 7/31/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/28/2007
OK, let's get one thing straight: I love Shaun of the Dead. This British film is somehow able to be reverent to zombie films and spoof zombie films, while at the same time being an actual zombie film! The movie is incredibly well-written and many seemingly innocuous things from the beginning of the film come back later on in the movie. The movie manages to be funny, shocking, and emotional. So, when filmmakers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg returned to the screen with their follow-up project Hot Fuzz, there was a tremendous amount of pressure for them to deliver.
Pegg stars in Hot Fuzz as Nicholas Angel, a London police officer. Angel is an incredibly dedicated officer and his arrest record is 400% better than anyone else on the force. Because of this, Angel's superiors feel that he's making everyone else look bad, so they decide to transfer him to a small town called Sandford, which is famous for being a tranquil village. Angel is devastated by this, but due to his devotion to police work, he agrees to go. Upon arriving in Sandford, Angel finds the town to be quiet and stoic. The locals are all very friendly and the police officers are very laid-back and somewhat apathetic. Angel meets his new superior, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), who respects Angel's skills, but also warns him that Sandford is very different from London. Angel is assigned to patrol the streets with Butterman's son, the bumbling Danny (Nick Frost).
Angel is bored to tears until a series of deaths begin to occur in Sandford. While everyone around him assumes that the deaths are accidents, Angel sees them as murders. After doing some digging, Angel is convinced that he's pieced together a conspiracy occurring in the village. Unfortunately, no one believes the outsider. So, Angel takes it upon himself to bust things wide open.
Hot Fuzz is a tough call. The movie is certainly good. It would probably be safe to say that it's better than 80% of the movies that I've seen lately. Writer/director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have distinguished themselves as a comedic force to be reckoned with and it's not out of the question for fans to anxiously anticipate their next project. But, Hot Fuzz pales in comparison to Shaun of the Dead.
The movie does a lot of things right. Just as Shaun of the Dead played off of zombie films, Hot Fuzz takes its cues from action films, specifically over-the-top movies such as those of Michael Bay and the Lethal Weapon. Many of the jokes in the film either directly spoof the genre, or take an idea from that type of movie and turn it on its head. (Prior knowledge isn't a prerequisite, but if you're familiar with Bay's movies, you'll appreciate more of the jokes here.) These films typically imply that the main character is the best cop around. However, Hot Fuzz brings that idea to fruition, having Angel actually be the best cop around. The tightly-wound Angel is then dropped into this sleepy village where nothing is as it seems. The "fish out of water" comedy isn't very original, but Wright and Pegg put their own spin on the humor, which comes very quickly in the first 3/4 of the film. The film mixes visual jokes with sharp dialogue and there are some truly funny moments here.
The problem is, there simply aren't enough funny moments in Hot Fuzz. In the last reel, the movie appears to become very confused and instead of mimicking action movies, it actually becomes one. There's no doubt that the last 1/3 of Shaun of the Dead becomes very serious, even depressing, but the darker moments are still littered with jokes. But, the humor nearly disappears completely from the finale of Hot Fuzz, save for some visual jokes. The movie attempts to take the action genre and crank it up to an insane level. But, Wright and Pegg seem to have forgotten that today's action films are already insane, so their movie simply looks like just another entry into the genre. This makes the ending seem to drag on forever as we are treated to a huge gunfight, a car chase, and then a fist-fight. Pointing out the fact that modern action films are too long by making a spoof that is too long is truly ironic...but not funny.
I hate to sound like I'm coming down too hard on Hot Fuzz, but I really expected more from, as the DVD box states, "The Guys that created Shaun of the Dead". The idea of mocking action films and movies where there's a small-town conspiracy is a great one, and the movie has some funny spots. But, it becomes enamored with its own subject and places the action before the humor. It would be unfair to say that Wright, Pegg, and Frost have hit a "sophomore slump" with their second major feature film, as it's an enjoyable film that I'll most likely watch on a semi-regular basis, but it does not do for action films what Shaun of the Dead did for horror.
Hot Fuzz calls for backup on DVD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film is coming to DVD in two separate releases, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a mild amount of grain at times and no defects from the source material. The colors look good, but I did that, on the whole, the image looked brighter than other DVDs that I've recently watched. The framing appeared to be accurate and there was no distracting video noise. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which exhibits the same problems I encountered with the Shaun of the Dead DVD. The dynamic range is unbalanced making the sound effects, which accompany every cut, much louder than the dialogue. Coupled with the British accents, and Nick Frost's penchant for mumbling, I was forced to turn on the subtitles in order to catch every line. That issue aside, the sound mix is (overly) impressive as the surround sound and subwoofer action is constant.
The Hot Fuzz DVD contains a nice assortment of extras, but it doesn't mirror the amount of special features found on the British DVD release. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from co-writer/director Edgar Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg. This is an entertaining track as these naturally funny men poke fun at their own film. They also give fairly detailed scene-specific comments, discussing where the film was shot and praising the large cast. "The Man who would be Fuzz" is an odd 30-second outtakes, which should have been included in the 10-minute OUTTAKES reel on the DVD. "Inadmissible" features 22 DELETED SCENES which run about 20 minutes. There are definitely some funny lines here and we learn of a deleted subplot. "Danny's Notebook: The Other Side" (20 seconds) is a deleted scene which gets its own section. "The Fuzzball Rally: US Tour Piece" is a 28-minute documentary showing Wright, Pegg, and Frost touring America to promote the film. This piece is funny and very candid. The DVD contains the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film, as well as two UK TV spots and the "Director's Cut Trailer", which is not a commercial for a director's cut of the film. Hot Fuzz can be watched with the "Fuzz-o-Meter" trivia track, or with branching STORYBOARDS.
For more Hot Fuzz fun, click here.
On September 22, 2009, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released Hot Fuzz on Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look great, most notably bold reds and blues. The dark tones are good as well, and the blacks look realistic. The image is not overly dark or bright. Overall, this is what Blu-ray is suppose to look like. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio here is just as good as the video. The surround sound and subwoofer effects are nearly constant. The subwoofer is some of the strongest that I've ever heard and it's almost too much (note that I said almost). The stereo effects are great as well. This is a demo worthy Blu-ray.
The Hot Fuzz Blu-ray Disc contains all of the extras listed above from the DVD release, plus several more. This release contains four additional AUDIO COMMENTARIES. We get one with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon, & Olivia Colman. The next has Edgar Wright & Quentin Tarantino. Following this is a commentary with Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman & Edward Woodward. The final commentary has the "Real Fuzz" Andy Leafe & Nick Eckland. "The Evidence Room" contains several sub-sections. "Conclusive: We Made Hot Fuzz" (30 minutes) is a very detailed making-of featurette which offers comments from the cast and Wright, and a great deal of on-set footage. The piece starts with the idea for the movie, and then examines the production. "Speculative: Video Blogs" (30 minutes) contains 12 brief videos which give us a behind-the-scenes look at the film. "Forensic: Featurettes" (45 minutes) contains eight chapters which examine various parts of the film's production and a look at the actors. This does a nice job of not duplicating footage from other extras. "Photographic: Galleries" contains a poster and photo gallery. In "Hearsay: Plot Holes & Comparisons", "Plot Holes" (3 minutes) offers storyboards which explain the details of three scenes, while "Speical Effects: Before & After" (6 minutes) show how FX layering was done. "Falsified: Dead Right" offers Wright's first cop movie, "Dead Right", which can be viewed with commentary from Wright or with Pegg & Frost, along with "AM BLAM: Making Dead Right" (10 minutes). "Hot Funk" is a 4-minute reels showing certain scenes with TV acceptable language replacing the profanity. "VW Blogs" (21 minutes) is a series of five shorts which show Pegg and Frost doing various things which involve Volkswagens. "iTunes Blogs" (17 minutes) offers four podcasts in which Pegg, Frost, and Wright give information about the movie.
Review Copyright 2007/2009 by Mike Long