The highly anticipated followup to 'Shaun of the Dead,' reuniting director Edgar Wright with collaborative actor Simon Pegg and sidekick Nick Frost, 'Hot Fuzz' takes aim at the buddy cop action subgenre, maintaining the same sense of screwy, out of place British humor in this second entry into the "Blood and Ice Cream" trilogy (of which, the third film has yet to be filmed).
Super cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) puts the job before his personal life, completely unable to turn the switch off. After putting his London colleagues to shame with an arrest record 400 percent more than any other officer, Angel is "promoted" and forcibly transfered to Sandford, Glauchester, a model village with the lowest crime rate in all of England.
The town is eerie in its perfection, though locals encourage some relatively minor indiscretions so as to keep appearances on the streets. But with the upcoming grading on the area for the yearly "best village," more and more "accidents" are piling up, with gruesomely violent deaths all a part of the pattern. With local dimwit cop Danny Butterman (Frost), the son of local law head Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) at his side, Angel is set to uncover the truth behind the mystery surrounding Sandford, regardless of what repercussions it will have for the men and women he is set to protect.
'Hot Fuzz' doesn't succeed due to an all star cast. If anything, it has anything but, with stars like Bill Nighy and Cate Blanchett receiving cameo (or even uncredited) roles, despite their great performances. Steve Coogan and Peter Jackson also show their mugs, ever so briefly, for the tiniest bits of familiarity. The stars of this show are the two doofuses who held our attention in 'Shaun' -- Pegg and Frost. Sure, other actors litter scenes, and some have nice credentials (and give fine performances in this film), but the entire film exists solely to be another buddy movie between the British odd pair.
Pegg's Angel, with his extreme seriousness and professionalism to a "t," is a perfect match for Frost's Danny, who is more obsessed with cop movies than being a cop. The film takes a turn when the two opposites find common ground once drunk, and sit down to a double feature of films referenced multiple times earlier in the movie: 'Point Break' and 'Bad Boys II.' Once the duo view the films together, they change, in a way, taking on more extreme personalities, leading to one of the most over the top action sequences in cinema, as the entire third act of 'Hot Fuzz' is one long, drawn out shoot out/confrontation.
The charm of 'Hot Fuzz' is the same found in 'Shaun of the Dead' that creates infinite replay value, the fact that every single event in the film is telegraphed or referenced a mile away. Nothing is random, and random conversations that may seem like throwaway filler all come back to have a purpose later. The telegraphing is expert, at least, especially the film references that always come back around to play a vital role. 'Fuzz' doesn't disrespect the films it references, not even in the slightest. If anything, it makes the films even better. It is somewhat hilarious to see every store containing a rack of the same action movies, with no signs of horror, children's flicks, or comedy. It's all Seagal, all Michael Bay, all Chuck Norris, all the time.
It's all fun and games, and a jolly good time, but that doesn't make 'Hot Fuzz' perfect, by any means. This second coming of Wright and Pegg in America doesn't hold a candle to their first work. The pacing drags quite a bit, running off on tangents (that do pay off, eventually, even if minor) that don't progress the plot in the lightest, while the takes on the genre it lampoons aren't as widespread, as they stay focused on a set few films, rather than the rules of an entire genre. The acting is better, and the cast more diverse in personality, but the film keeps nodding and winking, rather than playing things straight, even if just occasionally, a tactic that 'Shaun' didn't need to employ.
Still, 'Hot Fuzz' is a great flick, flawed as it is. Chemistry is strong between the actors, and love for film is on display at all times, as 'Hot Fuzz' is more a thank you letter to the films of the past than a step towards the future of cinema. Laughs are to be found often, including an uproarious take (that makes me laugh hard no matter how many times I watch the film) on Baz Luhrman's 'Romeo + Juliet,' a thoughtful insight on audiences who will only be exposed to the classics through the post-modern takes on them, much like 'Hot Fuzz' is, itself. Action fans will find as much to enjoy as comedy nuts here, and that's not a bad thing in any way.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Hot Fuzz' arrives by way of Universal as a late to the game HD DVD holdover on a BD50 Dual Layer Disc that is reported to be region free (aka playable on any Blu-ray player, regardless of country). There are no trailers or prompts before the main menu (besides a loading screen), and the menu itself doesn't have a looping audio, as it alternates across numerous different background tracks.
'Hot Fuzz' arrives on Blu-ray with a VC-1 1080p encode in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in what I can say without doubt is a bit of something called reference material.
Colors are bold and deep, while skin tones are perfectly natural, the only times they go off key is in odd lighting shots (hardly the fault of the transfer if it's a part of the film!). Detail is utterly brilliant (as is seen in the constant appearance of pores, moles, and other facial features that leap off each actor), with the tiniest veneer of grain that isn't tweaked in any fashion. Blacks are the perfect inky black, not too bright, and at the same time never an abyss of information swallowing. Whites are natural, stray hairs pop fantastically, sky shots are pure and natural, edges are clean and 100% natural, while noise doesn't exist but in a few brief moments.
In short, what you got with the HD DVD, you get again with the Blu-ray. It's hard to expand upon perfection, but matching it is most certainly welcome.
What once was a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 EX track has now become a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 extravaganza. While there isn't a real upgrade in the video, the audio gets a bump in clarity and emphasis, much like the Blu-ray "port" of 'Shaun of the Dead.'
This track is, in a word, loud. Loud, loud, loud. Shake your walls, knock over books or DVDs on shelves, piss off the neighbors, over the top rip roaring earth shatteringly loud...and I loved every minute of it.
Dialogue doesn't have a problem coming through the sonic barrage, as it is always clear and comprehendible, amazingly. Atmospheric effects are everywhere, in every channel, sweeping across the room like it were a ping pong table. Crowded rooms sound busier than quiet scenes, active and lively in every angle and shot.
The third act of the film, the action orgasm, as it were, is absolutely ridiculous...not that that's a bad thing. My subwoofer nearly had a seizure due to how much was being thrown at it, nonstop. Movement and localization in gunfire is constant, and it seems the gunfire plays a game of "anything you can do, I can do better" with itself, constantly upping its own ante.
The key element of this mix is the bass, the overwhelming, so busy it's stupid low end that emphasizes the entire film, from the moment Angel first appears on screen. It's thunderous, booming from even the tiniest door closure. Just like in 'Shaun,' jump cuts get a massive rattle from the bass as they sweep through the room. It's so over the top, much like the film, that it's hard to imagine the film without it.
Lordy, Lordy. If you thought the HD DVD for 'Hot Fuzz' was loaded (and by this site's measure, it most certainly was), you're in for information overload. There was a three disc Collector's Edition DVD release shortly after the HD DVD bow, and it was more loaded than Rip Torn on a week long bender. For this Blu-ray release, the two editions have been combined, in a way, creating the "Ultimate Edition" that the box art promises. There are enough extras here to make one hate the promise of supplements in the future, as this disc is beyond extensive.
For this review, any exclusives found on the HD DVD are not being considered exclusive. Only brand new content exclusive to this release is going in the HD Exclusive Content section, hence the scoring discrepancy between this review and the HD DVD.
'Hot Fuzz' may not be as splendidly fun as the film that came before it ('Shaun of the Dead,' not 'Dead Right'), but it's still a humorous action-packed mixture of spoof and homage from Wright and Pegg. The film stays enjoyable no matter how many times it's viewed and re-viewed, with layer upon layer of hidden gags and references. The Blu-ray release includes top notch video, splendid audio, and far, far too many extras for its own good. Buy this disc at the reasonable catalog price, and you'll find yourself with days worth of time spent wading through all the extras. A bargain at twice the price, and a must own title.