H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng

 

Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng

 

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Hot Fuzz HD-DVD

(Edgar Wright, 2007)

 

Universal (USA)

2.35:1 1080p

121 minutes

Audio: DD Plus 5.1 EX English, DD Plus 5.1 EX English

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French

Extras: four audio commentaries; Storyboards branching; Fuzz-O-Meter trivia track; deleted scenes; outtakes; The Man Who Would Be Fuzz; Hot Funk; The Fuzzball Rally; Danny’s Notebook: The Other Side; Conclusive: Making of Documentary; Speculative: Video Blogs; Forensic: Featurettes; still galleries; Hearsay: Plot Holes and Comparisons; Dead Right short film (with “making of” and two audio commentaries); trailers; My Scenes

Released: 31 July 2007

HD-DVD case

28 chapters

 

The wits behind the controlled chaos that is Hot Fuzz, a parody of Hollywood-style action flicks, wield a somewhat heavier comic cudgel than they did in their last big-screen outing, the zombie caper Shaun of the Dead.  This time, as they say in the blow-up business, it’s personal, or at least somewhat personalized, since the more obvious targets here include high-octane producer-auteurs like Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver, who, with their fat budgets and armies of heavily armed bad boys, have helped define the modern action spectacular, reshaping the old kiss-kiss, bang-bang movie experience into the cinema of lock-and-load.

 

Simon Pegg, the snub-nosed, cricket-bat-swinging blond avenger of Shaun of the Dead, plays Nicholas Angel, a crack London police officer who’s bounced to a small town by his inferior superiors (Bill Nighy, Steve Coogan, Martin Freeman, smirking and smiling) for being just too damn good at his job.  Banished to the sticks, where a missing snow-colored swan initially proves the only investigative distraction, he finds himself desperate for action.  He rousts some teenagers from the local pub, but outside of fielding smutty insults from the precinct’s layabout detectives (Paddy Considine and Rafe Spall, as matching and mustachioed as a Tom of Finland cartoon), there’s little to do but water his lily plant and nurse his cranberry juice nightcap.

Excerpt from Mahola Darghis at the New York Times located HERE

 

Video:

Though the 2.35:1 1080p video transfer shares most of the SD-DVD’s general characteristics and appearance, the HD-DVD is much sharper and more detailed than the SD-DVD.  My eyes no longer feel tired and sore after watching the movie, and the HD version loses the “dullness” that plagues the SD version.

 

Audio:

The very busy DD Plus 5.1 EX English audio track is a cacophony of sirens, alarms, gunfire, and explosions.  This is a very lively, aggressive mix that is a lot of fun for the viewer (which means that your neighbors won’t be having fun when you’re watching Hot Fuzz).  The rear surrounds and the subwoofer are full participants, though dialogue is balanced well enough that you can always hear what the actors are saying.

 

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 EX French dub.  Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Extras:

The HD-DVD side has several extras that are not available on the SD-DVD side.  From what I can tell, the only way to get some of these additional extras on SD-DVD is to buy an exclusive two-pack at Wal-Mart.

 

--Extras only on the HD-DVD side--

There are three additional audio commentaries--one with the actors who play the police, one with actors who play the villagers, and one with two real-life policemen.  The commentators all had fun making or watching the movie, and their delight is infectious.  However, much of the material is repetitive, so you may want to space out your exposure to the audio commentaries.

 

 

“Conclusive: Making of Documentary” is the kind of promotional featurette that you probably expect most home-video releases to offer these days.

 

“Speculative: Video Blogs” is a collection of clips that were shown on the Internet to promote the movie.

 

“Forensic: Featurettes” offers additional looks at various aspects of the production.

 

“Photographic: Galleries” is a collection of various stills and poster art.

 

“Hearsay: Plot Holes and Comparisons” debunk what some may consider to be narrative inconsistencies.

 

“Falsified: Dead Right” is an edited version of a movie that director Edgar Wright made a few years ago.  Dead Right is accompanied by a “making of” featurette, an audio commentary by Edgar Wright, and an audio commentary by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

 

Finally, with “My Scenes”, you can bookmark your favorite moments.

 

--Extras also on the SD-DVD side--

Director Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg contributed a fun, lively audio commentary.  Although the movie is clearly a spoof of super-serious self-important action movies, Wright and Pegg also enjoyed following all the expected clichés of a overblown spectacle.

 

There are two additional ways of watching the movie.  With the Storyboard option, a police badge appears in the top right-hand corner from time to time; press the Enter button to look at storyboards for the scene.  With the Fuzz-O-Meter, you get a running subtitle commentary.

 

There are 22 deleted scenes and about 10 minutes of outtakes.

 

“The Man Who Would Be Fuzz” is a brief skit with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost mimicking Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

 

“Hot Funk” is a collection of scenes with “toned down” language for TV exhibition.

 

“The Fuzzball Rally: US Tour Piece” is a compilation of behind-the-scenes footage from the moviemakers promotional journey across the US.

 

“Danny’s Notebook: The Other Side” is a flipbook cartoon of someone getting run over by cars.

 

You also get a gallery of trailers.

 

--Miscellaneous--

The SD-DVD side is identical to the widescreen SD-DVD release (reviewed here).

 

An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.

 

Summary:

This HD-DVD release has an exhaustive selection of extras.  Fans and even casual viewers will be won over by the moviemakers’ enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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