Hot Fuzz wasn’t nearly as funny as I was expecting it to be. It was one of the more anticipated films I was excited about reviewing and when I started watching the film, I was laughing plenty but I quickly noticed about the forty minute mark that I wasn’t in stitches like I had expected. By the time the film reached its absurd ending, I felt like yelling “Again!”, as if I was a kid who had just gone on his first roller coaster. An odd reaction to a film that was thoroughly unimpressive the first go around, but I quickly realized before the film amped up to the action that the trailers and DVD cover promised, that the film, while funny in its own right, wasn’t nearly as slapstick as I’d thought it’d be. Still, while the film didn’t live up to my pre-formed expectations, it was a remarkably fun film to watch.
In the film, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) plays a cop that is so impressive at his job that he’s promoted to Sergeant—but not on the current force in the city. No, he’s reassigned to a small town where he eventually becomes friends with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and after the town begins getting a series of horrific “accidents” done upon some of its citizens, Angel begins to suspect murder.
I’d never seen Shaun of the Dead (it is now on top of my “to see” list, however), so a lot of the references that the DVD points out the previous film were lost on me. In addition, and I realized this while watching the British The Office as well as Extras, that a lot of the famous British actors act as funnier symbols if you know who they are. I honestly had never seen anyone of this cast prior (aside from Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Timothy Dalton and Bill Nighy), so the other jokes that the commentary and fuzz facts track mention had gone completely over my head. Still, it’s a testament to the film itself that was as enjoyable as it was on the first viewing, but after watching it on the second go around it becomes even more humorous as you pick up on jokes or things you missed prior. The films frantic editing and over-blown sound effects only add to this and several times during the first viewing of the film I had to skip back a few seconds to listen to a joke again because it came so fast that I wasn’t prepared for it. That and I had a horrible time understanding the thick English accents in the film at times for some strange reason.
What’s so great about Hot Fuzz, aside from the no-holds-barred ending which nearly brings the walls down with the insane amount of bass it produces, is that it takes plenty of time to set the characters up. While the villain is quickly pointed out to us (he looks evil…and has a mustache!), it ends up having a bit of twist in the second act, which came as unexpected in a film that was built upon Hollywood clichés. On top of this, we actually get to see Pegg’s character of Angel change and become more genial in the small town, while Frost’s Butterman becomes more of a hardass than he was previously.
I don’t know how much longer I can go without completely gushing about the ending. As I said before, it’s ludicrously over the top and from the first drop kick Angel lands in the woman’s face, it all just ramps up from there and the sheer amount of shotgun and handgun ammo that is unloaded is astonishing. Even more, each shotgun blast is felt, nothing is spared and it’s really quite spectacular. The rapidity of the cuts, the quick camera work and dialogue that continues throughout the film is simply awesome and I don’t know how much better it could have gotten. It followed the Hollywood action movie script to the book and yet it still felt refreshing—landing somewhere between a parody of such films and really just a film that is an all around joy to watch.
The acting in the film is top notch and there isn’t a bit of it that wasn’t enjoyable in some way. Pegg’s character was meticulously played and the repeated wide-eye shots he gives throughout at the sheer stupidity of the small town at times was done remarkably well and even the physical gags, whether it being a trash can thrown at someone or the fence jumping, are kept to a minimum so they don’t get stale. The film is full of great lines, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is Timothy Dalton’s line as Simmon Skinner as the police pull up to his store: “Here come the fuzz.” It’s not comedic in the least, but it gives you a sense of all-hell breaking loose that you can only get from a wonderfully played villain coming up against the good guys. The ensueing market brawl is remarkable and Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall as Andy Wainright and Andy Cartright make the sequences stand out, especially with lines of “It’s alright, Andy! It’s just bolognese!” and a particular one about cutlery I won’t mention for the younger audience this site has.
Overall the film comes Highly Recommend to any and all. I just implore you, however, to go into the film not expecting a slap stick hilarity fest. The film takes itself quite seriously up until the very end where it just lets go and decides to be nothing more than a maximum carnage film.
While the above review is a mere copy of the review I ran when the single-disc edition came out, this next load of paragraphs are going to cover something entirely new: the three-disc collector’s edition of Hot Fuzz. Three discs seem like overkill? Maybe so, but for a movie of this caliber, I’m willing to watch every second of extra footage from it I can—it’s just that good.
Arriving in a cardboard slip and digipak trays, the set opens with the trays sliding downward and flipping up, akin to Angel’s trusty notebook in the film. The front of the slip-down trays even resembles a leather book, complete with a “Sandford Police” logo. The package folds down to reveal a notebook paper style backdrop, complete with pictures from the film, notes written below them and quotes from the film. Disc art is a simple black splash, with the Hot Fuzz logo on one side with a giant number on the right, signifying which disc is which. So far, purely from this packaging alone, this release is already looking to be extremely promising.
The video and audio quality of this film is what you’d expect. While there’s no DTS track (you’d think a three-disc edition would go all out and include one—although with five commentaries already, I guess there wasn’t any room), the surround Dolby 5.1 EX track is remarkably clear. While there are times you have to pause and rewind to hear what someone said, it’s rarely the fault of the audio track—it’s more an issue with the accents of some of the actors. The video also looks great, never deteriorating in the least and always looking pristine, even when minor amounts of grain crop up here and there.
Menus on this set are akin to the R1 single disc release, with the first disc being laid out exactly the same as the single disc release. Despite it looking the same, however, the extras contained on these discs are completely different. Like the single disc release we get a healthy amount of extras on this disc, with the twenty-two deleted scenes (complete with commentary), outtakes, “The Man Who Would Be Fuzz”, “Hot Funk”, “Fuzz-O-Meter”, “Danny’s Notebook: The Other Side” and Storyboards all return, but new to this first disc is the commentaries. Sure, the single disc edition had a commentary by director Edgar Wright and writer/actor Simon Pegg, but this three-disc edition trumps all past releases of the film, including HD-DVD and other regions. Here we get five (yes, five) commentary tracks, including the aforementioned Pegg and Wright track, along with a “Sandford Police Service” track with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbrent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon and Oliva Colman, a “Sanford Village People” track with Kennethn Cranman, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman and Edward Woodward, a “The Real Fuzz” track with police officers Andy Leafe and Nick Eckland and the final track, newly recorded for this release, with Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino.
All of the tracks are a riot to listen to, with “The Real Fuzz” being slightly less focused on the film and more on how the film represents the actual job, which is to be expected. The cast commentaries are wonderful to listen to and the new track with Tarantino is a fun listen as well, what with Tarantino and Wright’s affinity for films, they’re constantly name dropping and mentioning some film that inspired their careers. Tarantino also makes note to point out his favorite moments of the film, which is nice to see he was as big of a fan of the film as most people who upgrade to this three-disc edition are.
Moving onto disc two we get a wealth of new content to Region 1, although I think some of these may have showed up on the HD-DVD release, I’m not entirely sure. Still, we have “The Making of Hot Fuzz”, a nice thirty-minute documentary on the making of the film, quickly summarizing the production of the film along with cast and crew comments. Twenty-three “Video Blogs” go even deeper behind-the-scenes than the documentary did, focusing on specific moments of the production; they’re often quick, no more than a few minutes, but altogether they make up about thirty minutes.
Moving onto the eight featurettes, we go into even more detail of specific things that happened on the set (and off). First up is the “Art Department” (around four minutes), which focuses on what you think it would, “Friends & Family” (five minutes) covers the many cameos in the film by Wright’s friends and family, “Cranks, Cranes and Controlled Chaos” (five minutes) showcases the different cameras used, as well as some of the techniques that were used, such as hand cranks to speed up and slow down certain shots. I thought that was all done in post-production with computers, but apparently it was all done on-set…very cool. “Here Come the Fuzz” goes over the involvement of real cops and the training some of the actors went through; the final two featurettes are the longest, with “Return to Sandford” running over eleven minutes and detailing how they chose their location to represent Sandford.
“Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart” is the final featurette, running fourteen minutes, and is a thorough look into the production process that Wright and Pegg went through to write this film. Going so far as to abandon electronical devices, the pair retreated to a small house where they wrote the script for Hot Fuzz. There’s an odd layer transition pause here, so noticeable I thought my disc had stopped reading. Was quite a strange place to put the change and I’ve never seen one so noticeable before.
“Simon Muggs” is one of few extras that isn’t in anamorphic widescreen and tells of Pegg’s many faces that he made after takes on-set. There’s roughly two minutes of face making here and it’s a nice, funny clipshow that shows how Pegg was able to keep his jovial nature well tuned while playing the hardass Angel.
“Sgt. Fisher’s Perfect Sunday” is a short, one minute clip of Kevin Eldon (Sgt. Fisher) improving his way through the “my perfect Sunday” bit that we only hear a small portion of in the actual film. It’s short, but it’s rather hilarious, especially when Wright starts breaking up with laughter over it.
“Plot Holes and Comparisons” tackles some of the fuzzier bits in the film and attempts to clear them up through voice over’s and comic book style panels (drawn by Oscar Wright). The plot holes covered are how the village people organized the killing of Tim Messenger (Adam Buxton), how PC Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) fooled the Village People about killing Angel and an explanation for how everyone survived the police station explosion. I never really thought of any of these as “plot holes”, but the explanation for the last one is so absurdly awesome that I’m glad they were included.
“Comparisons” largely goes over the special effects of the film, before and after and the composition of it all. There are several to choose from and they’re all rather short in run time, but neat from a technical standpoint to see how it was all done (without a lot of wireframe jargon talk).
Finally on this second disc we have Edgar Wright’s “Dead Right”, his first cop movie which has many parallels to Hot Fuzz. The film has an intro by Wright as well as commentary over the entire thing; a second commentary track by Frost and Pegg is also included for “Dead Right”; the film doesn’t take itself seriously and is horrendously cheesy, but still fun to watch, especially to see how much of this forty-minute film inspired Hot Fuzz.
Moving onto the third and final disc of the set we get the excellent “Fuzzball Rally”, which, while included on the original release, was nowhere near the runtime of this one. This extended cut, over an hour long (compared to the original cut of twenty-eight minutes), gives us even more hilarious footage with Frost, Pegg and Wright as they tour around the US promoting the movie. Also provided on this is commentary (yes, another commentary!).
Finally we have more video blogs of questionable quality—well, video and audio quality, that is. The blogs include the VW sponsored blogs which are of particularly bad picture quality and the iPod podcasts (four in all). These all, of course, feature Frost, Pegg and Wright once again.
So after all of that, do you still want more? I don’t think so. This set is almost ludicrous in the amount of extras, yet it still remains completely enjoyable through and through. The extras never became tedious and I genuinely wanted to watch them. The film is quickly rating up there as one of my favorites and with this three disc set, I’m glad I no longer feel tempted to import the R2 release. Those that have, however, may be conflicted as to whether to upgrade; while the original R1 DVD release for Hot Fuzz was adequate in its own right, this three-disc edition blows it out of the water and anyone who was a fan of the film will no doubt want to upgrade. Highly Recommended.
Hot Fuzz: Collectors Edition arrives on DVD on November 27th.