HD DVD Title: Hot Fuzz (Combo format)
Screen format: 1080P 2.35:1 VC-1 Encoded
First theatrical release: 14 February 2007 (Ireland), 14 March US
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Day and date with Widescreen DVD
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, and Timothy Dalton
Sound Formats: English & French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 EX
Length: 2 Hours, 1 Minute
Subtitles: English, French
From the team that created Shaun of the Dead comes follow-up Hot Fuzz. Whereas Shaun was envisioned as the English answer to the film Dawn of the Dead, Fuzz is meant to be both an homage to and English re-imagining of the American Buddy-Cop genre and the flip side to the English crime caper, with the Bobby getting the spotlight this time around.
Supercop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) has earned every distinction the London force can credit an officer with, with a capture and conviction rate 400% above the average. In effect, he makes the rest of the force look bad. Following the Dilbert Principle, his superiors give him a promotion, but in doing so remove him from the action in central London to what should be a much quieter locale out in the English countryside, in the town voted most desirable place to live for years running. There he teams up with underachiever (and cop film superfan) PC Danny Butterman (Frost). All is not as it seems, as a series of gruesome deaths leave Angel convinced that there is a killer on the loose in town, and he will have to use every bit of his training and intuition to track them down.
As for the acting, it’s a veritable who’s who of English greats. Dalton steals the show as smarmy grocery store owner Skinner, Bill Nighy is briefly seen as a lead London official and Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall bring great laughs as “The Andys”. Pegg and Frost, real life best friends revisit the buddy film to great success, and also push the envelope of male bonding to its extreme, and it’s obvious they get a kick out of making the audience squirm as the relationship between the two progresses.
Director Wright and co-writer Pegg completely nail their goal, producing a film that not only incorporates every classic cop story element but mixes in very Hitchcockian story telling, slick editing and scene transitions, an immersive sound mix, and perhaps most importantly one of the most hilarious and engaging gun battles ever filmed. While the actual plot runs a bit loony towards the end, it really doesn’t matter as all of the other elements are running full steam ahead and more than make up for it.
If this were a serious film the silly plot would be a major distraction, but here it’s just the kind of thing one would expect given the principals involved. Fuzz is destined to be one of those films that is remembered for its terrific action sequences, quotable lines, brisk editing, and for taking its place next to the films that it holds dear.
Sound Quality: 5+/5
From the moment the film starts, even before the action appears on screen and while the leaders showing the production credits are rolling, the sound of Hot Fuzz is aggressive, enveloping, and humming in and across every part of the room. This is surround sound in every sense of the word, with not just minor effects keys being used occasionally in the background, but a true holosonic environment that is felt the entire 2 hour run of the movie. Incredibly, during the many action sequences this gets taken to an even more mind reeling level, as bullets fly from all corners, shotguns blast with a guttural and satisfying punch, and in one key sequence an explosion can be felt to rock the room from front to back. Musically, the theme music isn’t used as dramatically as it is in some cop movies, veteran 007 Composer David Arnold has crafted a theme that fits the film perfectly, subtly underscoring the action without becoming the focal point.
I initially bought my first DVD player after being awed by one single chapter of a single movie, the “Guitar Fighter Showdown” from Desperado. The audio from the gun battles in Hot Fuzz put that to shame and that is saying a lot. Simply put, you can argue the merits of individual surround sound formats till you are blue in the face, but, content wise, I suspect that this is about as good as surround sound can hope to get in the home.
Visual Quality: 4.5/5
From a cinematographic perspective, Hot Fuzz takes on the very stark look that has permeated the wave of English Crime stories of the last decade, featuring blown highlights and deep areas of black. While grain is used in some scenes it was never distracting or noisy. I never noticed one bit of edge enhancement or other digital artifacts, and this is a perfectly clean transfer, no pops or scratches made their way in. While the color palette is mostly diminished due to artistic choices, there are many outdoor scenes where color is allowed to shine through and this transfer captures all that the film has to offer. Likewise, detail levels are mostly high throughout, tho not the best I’ve seen, it’s still very good, and sharpness is similarly spot on throughout. Viewers will be very happy with this transfer but I wouldn’t classify it reference material for the most part.
Extra Features: 5+/5
Hot Fuzz contains an incredible flood of extra features and it’s clear from all of them that Pegg and Wright clearly love what they are doing and having a great time doing it, and that they have embraced the digital era in doing so. First up, we find three separate commentary tracks, a half dozen trailers, a collection of promotional posters and a score of on set photos. Next, every single story board is included, chapter by chapter. Also included are a ton of out takes and deleted scenes, these were great but the audio on them seemed to be muted heavily. Besides the commentaries, there is a trivia track that runs the full length. About 30 production ‘video blogs’ ala the King Kong diaries are included (you DID catch director Peter Jackson’s cameo as a deranged Santa Claus didn’t you?) as are a half dozen Computer Generated / Compositing sequences which show not only how the signature explosion is done, but also some of the car wrecks and the church steeple through the head gag. There is the customary ‘Making of’ featurette which interviews cast and crew, as well as a few other bits and bobs, including two which, looking over the back of the box just now, I must have missed on first run through as there is just so much in there! Throughout these extras Wright kept referencing his first film, shot on Super VHS, Dead Right, and I kept saying to myself ‘It would be neat if they had included that on the extras, but theres so much else on here I guess they couldn’t fit it.” Well, that IS the final extra feature, the full one hour film from 1993, including two separate introductions and two feature length commentaries!
Overall: 5/5 (not an average)
THIS is how disks are supposed to be done. This disk doesn’t even call itself any kind of special edition or directors cut or anything fancy, this is simply the standard first release on the film and it’s clear that Wright had his finger on EVERY part of it and it was done the way he wanted from the start. A second cut at it to wring extra cash out of the fans won’t be necessary. Simply outstanding!
If you own an HD DVD player this disk simply must be in your collection, and I hope sales of it are through the roof, as HD DVD owners HAVE to support quality productions like this to encourage the studios to do it right the first time instead of nickle and diming the fans all the time. If you don’t yet own an HD DVD deck, this disk may just be the reason you are looking for to get one. Highly recommended!