Judge David Johnson has found Nirvana and it is this HD-DVD. Go my children, watch and marvel and be blessed.
One of my favorite films of the years finally makes its highly-anticipated high-def debut and, kids, Hot Fuzz on HD-DVD is as much as a need-to-own disc as any I have ever reviewed.
Facts of the Case
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead) is a high-powered cop that finds himself in the quiet rural town of Sandford, after being booted from London for making all the rest of the bobbies look bad. He's buddied up with underachieving officer and action movie fanatic Danny Butterman (Nick Frost, also from Shaun of the Dead) to unravel a cryptic series of lethal accidents.
Angel is convinced there is malfeasance at work, possibly coordinated by the sinister Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton, Licence to Kill). But his cop instincts are consistently foiled by his skeptical comrades in the PD, the apathy of the content towns-folk…and a caped maniac. It's not long before Angel and Butterman lock and load and face off with as ruthless and cunning and arthritic an enemy as ever been seen in the rolling England countryside.
Hot Fuzz is some hot @#$%. No joke. This action-comedy is simultaneously riotous and thrilling and excels so well in both genres, Pegg and co-writer and director Edgar Wright deserve whatever medal one can conjure up for putting together such an original and dynamite movie-going experience. Look, I know it sounds like hyperbole, but soaking up the glory that is Hot Fuzz earlier in the year was one of the most entertaining movie-going experiences this jaded young buck has ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
I am an action movie fan. And so, obviously, are Wright and Pegg. Hot Fuzz could have easily gone the way of shameless parody, a la Scary Movie or—God help us all—Date Movie, poking fun at the logical inconsistencies and goofball tenets inherent in the action film, but what these guys do so deftly (and what they exhibited in Shaun of the Dead with the zombie film) is utilize all those trappings, and put out a clever, fun-as-hell homage to the genre as a whole. Having Butterman espouse the delights of Point Break and Bad Boys 2 to Angel, gives the filmmakers the green light to reap gag after gag based exactly on those types of movies; Wright and Pegg acknowledge the ludicrousness—and wonder!—of Western action filmmaking, endow their characters with a respect to the work of Michael Bay and Keanu Reeves, then open fire with their own brand of dual-wielding havoc. In short, this thing works. It's satire and adulation all at once and never will you, action fan or otherwise, ever feel condescended to or insulted.
I won't spend too much time gushing over the film itself. I realize that most readers are interested in the high-def specs, and they are indeed mighty. I just want to reiterate, once again, my love for this film, as both a comedy (probably the funniest I've seen in 2007, this side of Knocked Up) and a rootin' tootin' action film (the final half-hour is unrelentingly kinetic). And I apologize for using the term rootin' tootin'. I haven't even gotten to the awesome Timothy Dalton playing a superb villain or the shocking, though tongue-in-cheek gore sequences, or the two "Andys," or the stock boys attacking with projectile fruit, or the homicidal swan (now that is how you do a long-running gag with a killer pay-off). Find this movie, on any format, and watch it, and enjoy it and be cool like all the rest of us who love it.
Okay, onto the HD-DVD. As if this write-up weren't already saturated with a nauseous disgorging of fanboy praise, I implore you to add this disc to your HD-DVD collection immediately. Hot Fuzz represents the best I have yet to see on Toshiba's format, and this release alone makes me beam with pride to see the underappreciated HD-A2 situated beneath my TV.
The 2.35:1, anamorphic, VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer is a stunner, and easily the finest looking high-def treatment I've seen to date. Details are pristine and the colors are the healthiest on any disc I've reviewed. This is a bright, vibrant film and not once does the picture fail to realize this. For audio, the Dolby Digital Plus EX 5.1 mixes (English and French) are highly active, and really flex their aural muscles during that final half-hour of glorious gunplay and carnage. Taken together, both the video and audio presentations are elite.
But what really pushes this disc over the top are the extras. Frankly, the amount of stuff on this disc is imposing. Hours and hours and hours of bonus material, hitting every angle of the production and then some, can be found.
Commentaries. Four commentary tracks accompany the film, and they're all great. Pegg and Wright on one, the actors form the Sandford police department on the other, Timothy Dalton and some other Sandford villagers on the third (my favorite), and some real-life cops on the last who don't have too much to say, unfortunately.
Featurettes. Holy crap, there's a lot here: a making-of feature, a robust series of video blogs and fifty minutes worth of additional documentaries highlighting the various elements of the production.
Deleted Scenes. These are actually funny and worth watching. Edgar Wright offers commentary.
Outtakes. The typical gag reel, but it's still amusing.
Plot Holes. Similar to the plot holes bit inShaun of the Dead, this hilarious supplement fills in a few of the logical gaps with narration and storyboard art.
Fuzz-o-Meter. A trivia track that pops up nuggets of info during the film.
"Dead Right". Edgar Wright's first action film, made when he was 18. To give you some perspective on how packed this disc is, there are two commentaries (Wright and Pegg and Frost) just for this!
Random Crap. Here are some brief, but funny bits including a look at the other side of Danny's flip-animation notebook, some on-set goofing around and the four-minute, sanitized, made-for-TV version of the film, Hot Funk.
Everything Else. Photo galleries, a special effects comparison, promotional art and the trailer make up the rest of this astonishing line-up.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
On the flip side of this combo format is the DVD version of the film, no slouch in the tech departments itself, though missing much of the HD extras. There is an exclusive 30 minute documentary on the press tour, though. Oh, and a nitpick: the extras on the HD-DVD side are not in HD, which stinks. Other than that, a boffo effort!
Any self-respecting HD-DVD adopter (I know you're out there) needs to add this one to the collection, if at the very least to rub it in the face of the Blu-Ray fanboys.
Not—(sound of shotgun cocking)—guilty.
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