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Hot Fuzz

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (Violent Content including some Graphic Images and Language)

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Timothy Dalton, Bill Nighy

Written by: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright

Directed by: Edgar Wright

 

Studio: Universal

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Actor Simon Pegg and Co-Writer/Director Edgar Wright, Storyboards, Fuzz-O-Meter Trivia Track, The Man Who Would Be Fuzz, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Danny's Notebook: The Other Side, The Fuzzball Rally: U.S. Tour Piece, Hot Funk, Trailers, TV Spots

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scenes (28 Scenes)

Released: July 31st, 2007

 

 

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the best cop in London. He's so good in fact, that he's making all his fellow officers look bad. His skills are "put to better use" when Angel is forced to become sergeant in the country-esque Sanford, Gloucestershire. Instantly, Angel is frustrated by his new surroundings and circumstances - such as his immature partner (Nick Frost), the loopy staff at headquarters and the new kind of assignments he's faced with, such as trying to catch swans. It's all a far cry from what he's used to, but things get a bit more interesting when there are some bloody deaths in Sanford. As nearly everyone writes them off as accidents, Angel is sure that's far from it - and plans to get to the truth by any means necessary... even if it ultimately means dolling out larger-than-life action.

"Hot Fuzz" is Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's loving skewering of bloated, action-packed cop movies that has brought Hollywood billions of dollars but has created a bit of a backlash with a decent segment of moviegoers. Much like the duo's critically-adored "Shaun Of The Dead," Pegg and Wright's latest follows a similar formula from their last cinematic outing: take a known genre and turn it upside on the head - all while actually developing serious characters and giving the audience a full-fledged plot.

With that said, "Hot Fuzz" isn't a parody film. This movie isn't all mindless violence, or dumb bombast: you are actually getting a real narrative, and not something that's stringed together. The movie takes its sweet time to build up the story. The plotting may not seem as accessible to American audiences since the police force in England can be much different than what we have in the United States, but I really enjoyed how the movie plays into these small, quiet English towns. There is not a lot of crime to speak of, and police-work often consists of mundane tasks. As far as the crazed murder mystery storyline Pegg and Wright weave, it is one of the more memorable cop stories to be committed to celluloid in recent years. Is the plotting completely original, or is resolution? Not exactly, but that's probably part of the point. To their credit though, they actually throw some really ingenious twists into their plotting, as it kind of creates some great narrative bends &emdash; some of which are typical but entertaining, and others that can be a bit out there.

The movie also spends its time developing its characters. Some get developed more than others, but in fairness, it's a large cast. The characters' personalities and backstories are rounded for the most part (I particularly liked the focus on Danny and his father, which was interesting), but in comparison to "Shaun Of The Dead," they are not developed as much. One part of this is that Angel is a protagonist who is not as relatable to the audience. Pegg's Shaun was a regular guy with love and family woes, and here Pegg is an outstanding police officer and flawless citizen. Those around him are cartoonish loons or just plain dense, and Timothy Dalton as the suspected murderer is a cartoon supervillain. In fairness again though, this is a different movie than "Shaun" as far as some of its tone. I don't think the filmmakers were going for something as relatable this time.

It may seem like a lot to spend 90 minutes of just building up a plot, but I don't think the film moves slow. However, I think there's a lot that could have been trimmed, and it could have been a bit leaner. There are some scenes that are mildly humorous and don't really add much, but they ultimately feel like excess. A lot was cut from the movie, and it is pretty easy to tell what what subplots were cut considerably.

The film earns a bulk of its laughs - and there are major ones - in the last half-hour (but the musical version of Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo & Juliet" is priceless). Here, the film does a complete 180 and the pay-off finally comes: the movie transforms into a full out love letter to the overly violent, Bruckheimer-esque action films. It is incredibly ridiculous, but that's the point. But damn, it is tons of fun. All the clichés we've come to know somehow become grander and even more ludicrous: the intense camera angles, the cool wearing of sunglasses, dumb one-liners and lots and lots of violence. Part of what makes it all so hilarious is that this is a full blown action movie taking place in a sleepy English village. It is absurd, incredibly graphic and often random, but it actually wraps up the past 90 minutes well.

Yet in some respect, the film's grand finale is a brazen mix: the film does take itself seriously, and it is a major turning point, but by becoming so insane, it can be argued that it actually negates all that has transpired. The second-to-last scene (the one before the epilogue) might have been a bit too much, but whatever - this movie does not hold back. The film's climax is eerily sublime and symbolic; where all the good and evil battle out in a model village. Not only is it a funny sequence, but a clever one: it's a microcosm of the power struggles going on in the plot, and how our protagonist literally faces the entirety of what he was so baneful about.

Even though the film may be a bit on the uneven side and not as honed as it could have been, director Edgar Wright still holds strong reigns as far as shepherding the story and how he plays out his laughs. Wright also delivers a fantastical visual style to the movie that is well-framed and sharp. The constant cuts and use of lens filters play into the homage and satirizing, as does the constant pushing-in of the camera and even the stark and bold lighting. With only two feature films under his belt now, Wright's technical and narrative voices are pretty impressive. He's really a director to watch.

The acting is a lot of fun. Simon Pegg is the straight man throughout the movie. It's certainly a departure from his portrayal as Shaun, as he is actually pretty tough and serious. It works. But Pegg does get to be gutbusting in the film's final half-hour, where he channels every exaggerated cop protagonist from 1990s cinema. And once again, Pegg has great chemistry with his partner-in-crime Nick Frost. Frost plays the same kind of oaf as he did in "Shaun," but it seems he's given less to do in this movie. It's a bit of a disappointment, but Frost gets plenty of moments to shine be it with dialogue or physical comedy.

As far as the supporting roles, Paddy Considine plays against type as an obnoxious detective, and he excels. Bill Nighy has a cameo, and it's good to see Jim Broadbent in a somewhat goofy role. It was a fine stroke of casting, and as usual, Broadbent delivers and gets to show his range with a lighter role that he really nails. But perhaps stealing the show is the very amusing Timothy Dalton, hamming it up in the best possible way as a suspected villain. Dalton hasn't chewed this much scenery (or has had such nice facial hair) since "The Rocketeer."

"Hot Fuzz" is a really fun way to spend two hours, especially if you love or loathe overdone cop films from Hollywood. It's astounding that some Englishmen really admired (or um, despised) such a genre, and are able to take it apart so expertly in what is ultimately a very original film. We really need more comedies like this. Comedic American filmmakers should take major notice of the talents that Pegg and Wright have: we need sharper narrative comedies like "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun Of The Dead," and less of crap parody films like "Epic Movie."

 

Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (a separate full screen version is available, but for the love of peas and rice don't go for it), "Hot Fuzz" looks glorious and nearly flawless. Other than the slight edge enhancement, and some noise and edge halos, everything about this transfer is drool-worthy. Wright's often-filtered visual stylings really fly out and helps gives the overall image such a lifelike look that you'll probably want to reach out and touch. Detail is phenomenal, black levels are very strong and the print used for the transfer is pristine. The accuracy of the fleshtones are dead-on, and the saturation of the colors really stand out: all the locales and costumes look really vibrant, with no bleeding whatsoever. This is a sharp transfer that's very pleasing to the eye, and perfectly capture the film's barrage of visuals and varying color schemes.

 

You don't see these on many DVDs these days: a full-fledged Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. And with "Hot Fuzz," it does not disappoint - the extra speaker helps amp up all the bravado. Like the transfer, I'd say this audio mix is near reference-quality. Fidelity is pretty high, and dynamic range is wide and powerful. There's lots of imaging, terrific use of the .l LFE and the surround effects are wonderfully discrete. The surrounds are so sharp, especially at the end, that you'll feel as if you are in the center of the epic battle that takes place in Sanford. The ricocheting due to all the guns, glass windows breaking, the vrooming of the cars that are airborne and the storming of the supermarket: it is the track's centerpiece.

But other than the film's final quarter, there's still a lot of other moments to be enjoyed. Even the smaller sound effects, like paperwork getting stamped or the police sirens have presence. The songs used in the movie are mixed well through the channels, and David Arnold's excellent compositions not only lend a certain gravitas and power to the mix, but give the track a bit of warmth. All the dialogue is crisp and easy to hear too, and as hard as it might be to imagine, the sound elements of the track are mixed evenly - so nothing overpowers something else.

In short: warn the neighbors, crank up the volume and enjoy! EX tracks in Spanish and French are also included, as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

 

Just like the "Shaun Of The Dead" DVD, Universal has packed in a strong amount of supplements for the U.S. DVD release of "Hot Fuzz" - and who's extras are eerily similar. First up is an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Actor Simon Pegg and Co-Writer/Director Edgar Wright. The two are pretty enthusiastic and genuinely joke around, but have lots of stories about the production, the creation of the screenplay and their overall vision. There's a lot of praise for the actors, and a lot of pointing out of background details you may have missed, in-jokes, obscure references and how certain sequences were accomplished so the budget could be maximized. There are no dead spots or shortage of anecdotes, and it's really like listening to two of your friends reminisce about their work. This is a really good and very informative listen, so if you liked the movie, be sure to give it a spin.

Keeping in continuity from the "Shaun Of The Dead" DVD, there are two options viewers have while watching the movie: there's the Storyboard Comparison and Fuzz-O-Meter. The Storyboard comparison is pretty good, if standard: toward the beginning of each chapter, there usually is a badge on the upper-right hand side of the screen which you can click on, and then see the original storyboard layout for the scene. The Fuzz-O-Meter is a subtitle trivia track that lasts the whole length of the film. Like the "Shaun-O-Meter," this trivia track is remarkably comprehensive and points out all sorts of facts, be it about Pegg and Wright's inspirations, music selections, film references or facts about the locations. Some of what's placed on screen is a bit obvious, but if you want to know everything about the movie you possibly can (and more about the lives of the filmmakers and actors), then this track is well worth reading as you watch the film.

The disc also includes twenty-two Deleted Scenes in non-anamorphic widescreen. All these clips are really short, as many barely last a minute each and in all, total about twenty minutes. Some are alternate takes, or just little chops from existing scenes. Most of this material is pretty fun, but either not necessary to the film or Wright and Pegg went with better material. Wright provides Optional Audio Commentary on the scenes, and justifies the cuts in great detail - often citing research that was done on the film, or general plot nuances, and what deemed necessary. Wright is also pretty blunt about jokes that seemed funny on the page, but once filmed, just didn't work. I'd say the scenes are worth a view, and for the bigger fans of the film, you should definitely listen to Wright's thoughts.

The Fuzzball Rally: U.S. Tour Piece is a wildly entertaining video documentary lasting about a half-hour, and presented in anamorphic widescreen. The fly-on-the-wall focuses on Pegg, Frost and co-writer/director Edgar Wright going to ten American cities over the course of a month to promote the movie. Other than getting a glimpse of basic film promotion - TV interviews, podcast interviews, Q&A sessions - the trio goof around in the cities that they are visiting. Highlights include a visit to the Exorcist house, Nick Frost screwing up what airport "Die Hard 2" takes place in, birthday cakes getting flushed in toilets and the guys goofing off during phone interviews all while giving pretty straight-laced answers. Well-edited, well-paced and just hilarious. Don't miss it.

There's a solid ten minutes worth of Outtakes - some of what's here are the typical line screw-ups, but there are some pretty funny moments in the reel, be it an intentional funny voice or off-key ad-lib. There's also the short clip The Man Who Would Be Fuzz - where Frost and Wright play a scene as if they're Michael Caine and Sean Connery (anyone recall "The Man Who Would Be Shaun" clip?), and the other short clip Danny's Notebook: The Other Side (probably should have been an easter egg).

But motherhugger! Nearly as funny as the film itself is the Hot Funk supplement. "Hot Fuzz" features its fair share of strong language, and as the text introduction explains, the filmmakers were obligated to make a version suitable for television. With that said, they seem to have a lot of fun by using the most ridiculous language in lieu of actual curse words - like "grasswipe," "silt," "fudge it!" and "peas and rice!". There's about four minutes worth of this, and is quite enjoyable. Who knows - maybe one day "funk" will replace another four-letter f-word. (And yes, a very similar supplement was on the "Shaun" DVD.)

Wrapping up the disc is the Theatrical Trailer and two TV Spots. Oddly, the trailer is in non-anamorphic widescreen and the TV spots are anamorphic. There is also the "Director's Cut Trailer," also in anamorphic widescreen... but I think that's misleading. There's nothing dirty about it, and it doesn't advertise a director's cut... it basically plays like one of the two TV spots. Hmm, is this some kind of goof, or is there another DVD edition to come?

Oh, and all the extras have subtitles available in English, French and Spanish. Yay.

 

"Hot Fuzz" is a hilarious send-up of all the overproduced, buddy cop action films from the past few years. This is not a straight-up parody film, but rather, a loving homage and mockery of such a polarized genre. Just like Wright and Pegg's "Shaun Of The Dead," Universal has delivered a fantastic DVD with strong picture quality, a powerhouse Dolby Digital EX mix and entertaining supplements that perfectly complement the "Shaun" DVD. This is a must-buy if you're a fan of the movie, or "Shaun Of The Dead." For everyone else: if you enjoy comedy and are familiar with what the movie is targeting, then this is the perfect rental.