Judge Eric Profancik thinks second time's a charm.
In a town where nothing much goes on, a whole lot is about to go down.
It was with a slight groan that I discovered I was about to review Hot Fuzz. As much as I love British humor, television, and the country in general, I have found no love in Simon Pegg's movies. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Run, Fatboy, Run just didn't work for me, and I wonder if it was because of the hype surrounding each movie. Being the good reviewer, I nonetheless popped the disc in and hoped for a change of heart.
Facts of the Case
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is an awesome cop. He excels at every single level from paperwork to high speed pursuits. His arrest record is 400% greater than any other cop, and his peers don't appreciate that. Nick is making the rest of the bobbies look bad, so he's forcibly transferred to the sleepy village of Sandford. In this quaint community of the year, he finds a police force that does little policing and a general air of relaxed accountability. Poor Angel is finding it hard to acclimate to the lackadaisical ways of the hamlet from the high energy of London. But soon enough a string of accidents hits the area, but Nick is the only one convinced that they are murders. Has trouble followed Nick or have his superior skills pulled the veil off the village?
When I first saw Hot Fuzz, it was because of the hype. Everywhere I went people were saying what an excellent, outstanding, brilliant, funny movie it is. It broke the genre. It was a hilarious parody. It was the bomb. So even though I wasn't a fan of Shaun of the Dead, which also was drowned in praise, I decided to give it a go. It certainly wasn't a bad film; it just didn't work for me. There was so much build up that the movie couldn't live up to the piles of praise heaped upon it. It probably was also the case that I didn't know exactly what I was about to see, and my expectations didn't mesh with reality. When all was said and done, I didn't think much of the film except that I liked the ending.
I am glad to say that this second viewing of Hot Fuzz has changed my opinion. Now long past all those bloated expectations, I was able to sit down and watch the movie for what it is, and it is a very good, funny action/parody. You're introduced to some funny (and extremely annoying) characters who are caught up in this ridiculous situation, all culminating in a wonderfully bizarre climax. The British humor that I failed to realize the first time shines through all too clearly. Better late than never, I'm glad to have this chance to rediscover this little gem.
There are two things that make Hot Fuzz work: the attention to detail and the actors. By the former I am talking concurrently about the script and the production design. Once you have a chance to see the flip chart in the bonus materials you will realize how complex and detailed the environment is. And while not every nuance from that chart makes it into the movie, most of it does, creating an entertaining world for our characters to play in. Then add to that the subtle and not-so-subtle parody (and praise) for the bombastic—usually American—action film, and Hot Fuzz does more with this comedy than most dramas even dream. As the casual viewer, you'll miss a lot of this detail; but if you have time to really watch the scenes, see how cleverly they interact and build upon each other, and then look around for hidden nods, this movie is very deep…in a humorous way.
Yet all that time spent on the detail could be for nothing if you don't have a cast that's worth their salt. Hot Fuzz has a most impressive lineup of British talent. I'll admit I don't know them all but perhaps you do: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy Underworld), Timothy Dalton (License to Kill), Edward Woodward, Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge), Martin Freeman, Julia Deakin, and the list truly keeps on going. You have the new guard of Pegg and Frost fencing with the grand masters, all of whom bring their A-game. All this talent just oozes from the screen elevating the fluffy and silly material beyond where it should go.
With all that said, I'm glad that this second viewing changed my opinion on the movie. Not only did I discover what others already knew, but I also can say that I like Simon Pegg in a movie that isn't Star Trek. On a serious note, now that I enjoy the movie it made it all the easier to tackle the bonus materials. Let me start by saying that this disc wore me out. I haven't seen this much material for one movie in a long time. In fact, only the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy come to mind. If I didn't enjoy the movie, it would have been an absolute chore to work through everything, but instead it was a joy. Since there is so much material included, I am mostly just going to list the title and its run time. Anything that isn't self-evident will get a brief summary. A few of the items are ports from the previous DVD release, and I marked those with an asterisk (*) instead of a bullet. A few others were on the HD DVD release and those are marked with a hyphen (-) instead of a bullet. I also want to let you know that I watched every single minute of bonus material; and you know what? I was stunned to discover only the most miniscule of repetition in the hours of material. I've had discs that have two bonus items and they practically say the same thing. Not here. Just about everything is different, giving you more detail into this movie (and its release) than you can shake a stick at it. Now here's the rundown:
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Edgar Wright (20:37): There are 22 scenes/snippets included.
* Outtakes (10:22)
• We Made Hot Fuzz (29:34): This is the making-of featurette.
• Video Blogs (29:58): Thirteen episodes that are a less-structured, casual, behind-the-scenes making-of featurette.
- Featurettes (44:54): Broken down into eight parts, which I'm not going to list, this discusses everything from the art department to makeup. Prepare to be amazed by the flipchart.
- Photo Galleries
- Plot Holes (3:23): Three scenes are created on storyboard to cheekily address holes in the story's logic.
- Special Effects Before and After (6:21): Eight scenes are detailed.
- Dead Right with two optional commentaries, one with Edgar Wright, the other with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (40:12): This is Edgar Wright's first cop movie, made at the age of 18 (in 1993). It's included for fun and to show how that early film is the kernel of the idea for Hot Fuzz.
• AM BLAM: The Making of Dead Right (10:29)
* Fuzzball Rally (1:11:09) with optional commentary by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Joe Cornish: This is a video blog of the commentator's 10 city U.S. tour to promote the release of the movie. Watch for the cake!
Please note at this point we have four commentary tracks on the bonus features, and we haven't even made it to the film's commentaries yet!
- The Man Who Would Be Fuzz (0:34): Nothing more than another goofy outtake.
- Hot Funk (3:43): This shows scenes from the film as they would be dubbed for television. I'm not sure if this is legitimate or just being silly.
- Danny's Notebook: The Other Side (0:21): A quick-flip animation.
• VW Video Blogs (21:29): A five part series that needs to fill your television screen and not have odd video effects over the video.
• iTunes Podcast (16:30): A four part series that feels a bit forced.
- Trailers and TV Spots
• Storyboard Gallery (27 of them)
The next two items are listed under the U-Control menu and not the Extras menu, and you can only play one of them at a time, not concurrently.
*- Fuzz-O-Meter: A pop-up trivia track that plays during the movie. It includes tons of stuff!
* Storyboards: Storyboards pop up during the movie.
Tired of reading yet? I hope not because there's more. On top of everything just mentioned, there are now five—yes five!—audio commentaries for Hot Fuzz. Each one has a theme to it. And remember when I said I watched all the bonus material? That was the truth, but the loophole to that statement is that I have not listened to all of the commentaries. I have listened to snippets (up to 30 minutes) of each of the five movie commentaries, but none of them in their entirety (which I will do, just not in one week). I also then skimmed the ones included on the bonus materials. I apologize for not taking another 10 hours to listen to every minute of the commentaries, but there's only so much Hot Fuzz you can absorb in one week!
*- Audio Commentary with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (my favorite)
- Audio Commentary with the Sandford Police Service: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spoll, Kevin Eldon, and Olivia Colman (next favorite)
• Audio Commentary with Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino (least favorite)
- Audio Commentary with the Sandford Village People: Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman, and Edward Woodward (tie with the next one)
- Audio Commentary with the Real Fuzz: Andy Leafe and Nick Eckland (tie with the previous one)
This disc is also D-Box and BD-Live enabled.
Let's make it all even better with the discussion of the transfers. Video is 2.35:1, 1080p and it's a pleasure to watch. From the opening seconds I could tell I was in for a treat; for the lush colors, accurate blacks, vibrant details, and solid contrast come together to form a rich, immersive picture. The movie is a treat for the eyes, and it shows off what a quality Blu should be. The presentation is exceptionally lifelike, and you feel as if you're there. Continuing the trend is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Simply, it's a great mix. From the dialogue to the bombastic ending, every facet of the audio is accurate without any form of error or distortion. It's a top-tier audio track that you'll love to listen to over and over again. It'll also make a nice promo disc for your home theater setup.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
My only quibble is with Universal's stolid use of their menu interface. While it's nice to have consistency from product to product, it should at least be a good system. My biggest complaint is on the audio menu. With a main audio option, subtitles, five commentaries, and menu sounds, the menu scrolls down for several pages; but it's chunky and you can't easily flip between the pages. There are worse problems, but this design has always annoyed me.
As I slowly bulk up my Blu-ray library either by buying discs or from those I obtain from DVD Verdict, I haven't come across many that have blown me away. Hot Fuzz is a release that has done that, thanks to great transfers and an amazingly thorough selection of bonus materials. When I first learned that this disc was on its way to me, I didn't think I'd be about to say this but here it goes: I wholeheartedly recommend this release. Combining a fun, witty, and smart movie with great technical transfers, adding a ton of bonus content (albeit not all new material) and you have the type of release that showcases what this format is all about. Go get some Fuzz.
Hot Fuzz is hereby found not guilty of disturbing the peace.
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