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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Hot Fuzz (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray]

 

(Edgar Wright, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Working Title & Big Talk Productions

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: 121 min

Chapters: 28

Size:

Case: Standard Blu-ray Case

Release date: September 22nd, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1

 

Audio:

English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1; DUB: Spanish & French DTS 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, French & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Actor and Co-writer Simon Pegg & Director and Co-writer Edgar Wright

• Audio Commentary with The Sandford Police Service: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rage Spall, Kevin Eldon & Olivia Colman

• Audio Commentary with The Sandford Village People: Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman & Edward Woodward

• Audio Commentary with Edgar Wright & Quentin Tarantino

• Audio Commentary with The Real Fuzz: Andy Leafe & Nick Eckland

• We Made Hot Fuzz - in SD (29:34)

• Behind-the-Scenes

• Special Effects: Before & After - in SD (6:21)

• Inadmissible Deleted Scenes w/ Optional Commentary - in SD (20:37) • Outtakes - in SD (10:22)

• Outtakes - in SD (10:22)

• Plot Holes – in SD (3:23)

• Speculative Video Blogs – in SD (29:55)

• The Fuzzball Rally: Uncut w/ Optional Commentary - in SD

• Dead Right: Edgar's First Cop Movie w/ Optional Intro & Commentary – SD (40:12)

• U-Control: Fuzz-O-Meter & Storyboards

 

 

The Film:

This month Universal is releasing a number of titles on Blu-ray geared for the Halloween season, among them Shaun of the Dead (reviewed HERE.) On that same day (Sept. 22), Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s next movie together, Hot Fuzz, will also hit the shelves.

The two movies, both, in their curious and unique way, parodies, make for interesting comparisons: Hot Fuzz is a less linear, more episodic narrative. It is far less clear where we are heading in the story or even what mood or effect on the audience the filmmakers are aiming at, though both movies share something of this ambiguity. Even though Shaun grows out of the zombie genre, Hot Fuzz is much weirder, and the production design more exotic – both visually and sonically. The characters are really off the scale.

In Hot Fuzz, the story and characterization charms and repels us by turns. The film displays that subtle sense of English sense of humour we know so well, but it also contains a few frightfully grisly moments. It's a little like Lindsay Anderson's "if…." on crystal meth. Much is made in the press about this being a parody of the buddy cop genre, but the film is so dense with distractions that you could be excused for ignoring that particular line of thought. The casual moviegoer might find the proceedings exceedingly off-putting; but the seasoned veteran, especially those who appreciate off-the-wall black humour, will likely find much to amuse and titillate.


The Movie: 8
Police Officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is what we would call a “Super Cop”. He excels in every aspect of police work. The problem is that his superiors find him a source of some embarrassment even though he may be a hero to the public. Worse yet, being right all the time can be truly annoying to his fellow officers. Officer Angel makes everyone else look bad. It seems to his superiors that the only sensible recourse is to transfer Officer Angel to some remote country village: in this case, Sandford, a quiet town with certificates of Best Model Village going way back to prove it. And that’s the rub. It is also the mystery.

When Angel permits no crime, however slight, to go unnoticed or unbooked, he is reminded that he should take things more in stride, to understand what is for the “greater good” and what is not, and that his predecessor snapped simply because he took things too seriously. We learn soon enough that, while Sandford may not have any crime, at least none on the record books, the citizenry is peculiarly and grotesquely accident prone. It’s no secret to the audience that these accidents are murders, pure and simple, but what Officer Angel can’t quite get a handle on is why his fellow policemen and the public at large don’t see it that way.

Simon Pegg’s Angel is relentless in his pursuit of the truth. He is aided by a huge cast of familiar and unfamiliar character actors, all chewing up the scenery with their various assignments. Jim Broadbent is Inspector Butterman who has a unique aversion to paper work. His son, PC Danny Butterman, played by Nick Frost - even more inane and persistent than he was in Shaun of the Dead – is Officer Angel's new partner and is constantly asking Super Cop about his adventures, hoping that something will rub off. Timothy Dalton (Licence to Kill, The Lion in Winter) is the town grocer, Simon Skinner, who offers every opportunity to incriminate himself with lines like “Lock me up. I'm a slasher! I must be stopped! (Officer Angel: You're a what?) A slasher... of prices! I'm Simon Skinner - I run the local supermarché.” Paul Freeman (Belloq in Raiders of the Last Ark) is Rev. Shooter, the town clergyman, who, along with Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean, Underworld, Valkyrie), Edward Woodward (Breaker Morant), David Threlfall (The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby), and, though you only see her eyes and hear her voice, an uncredited Cate Blanchett, are among a long list of those whose presence would be sorely missed, and who make this movie the funny and macabre couple of hours that it is.

 

Image: 9/9  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Hot Fuzz, like Shaun of the Dead, is a glossy presentation. There are the occasional special effects with explosions and things that go splat, but the CG is well integrated even with apparent post processing - exaggerated contrast with blown out highs being the most obvious, though intended, effect. There's a fine grain that persists. Flesh tones are correct. Color is a trifle desaturated. Textures are more refined than in Shaun. Resolution is tighter as well, though facial texture is often absent detail. Blacks are strong, with good shadow detail even in night scenes. Dimensionality is quite good, even in night scenes. Noise is pretty much non-existent. I found no distracting blemishes, artifacts, enhancement, or DNR. Bit rates are high and dynamic, averaging around 30.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 9/8
Here things get a little dicey, and whether you like the result depends partly on how you feel about bass and how ell your playback system is in control of it. For Hot Fuzz has some monster LFE, and it comes on often – at just about every transition from one scene to another, it seems. The effect is clearly designed to keep us alert to something lurking in the plot, and it isn’t long before we find out what that is, even if we don’t know why.

The exaggerated LFE is one difference between the audio mix here and in Shaun. Both present as creatively detailed soundscapes that take effects, music, ambiance and dialogue into account. The other difference is the sheer volume of this mix. Surrounds are used extensively to drown us in dynamically presented, often overwhelming information: passing trains, flying bullets, crashing bullets, passing helicopters, explosions, even the opening voiceover – all serve to create a darkly comic sense of foreboding. When not hitting us over the head or in the gut, the audio mix conveys all the desired environmental ambience necessary, from distant mooing to casual traffic.

Given that the English is fairly colloquial it may help to activate the subtitles from time to time. There is one hilarious scene where Officer Angel employs a translator. The witness sounds like he’s merely moaning, but the moment he is translated we automatically play back what was said in our head and he suddenly he makes perfect sense, especially with the subs. It’s all very odd.

 

Operations: 7
The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows tell you which way to direct your remote, and the bonus feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. The chapter menu includes buttons for U-Control in case you want to approach those functions from that point.

 

 

Extras: 9
For those of us who need – or appreciate – the need for translation in depth, Universal offers, not one or two or even three audio commentaries, but five. And not just five, but sensible, rather than arbitrary, groupings of commentators: In addition to the obvious choice of Director and Co-writer Edgar Wright & Actor and Co-writer Simon Pegg who, among a host of other topics, discuss the world of the movie cliché; we have roundtable comments from the actors that make up The Sandford Police Service (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rage Spall, Kevin Eldon & Olivia Colman), perhaps the most rollicking of these commentaries; and The Sandford Villagers (Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman & Edward Woodward) – the most sober of the discussions. Not enough for you? How about one with Director Wright & Quentin Tarantino, who have a good time delving into the police buddy movie genre and assorted other bits; and yet another with two Real-life Fuzz, Andy Leafe & Nick Eckland, rural cops who helped with the technical research for the film.

The multitude of other extra features are grouped as police procedures, “The Evidence Room” includes the Making-of featurette titled quite simply "We Made Hot Fuzz" and a host of shorter segments behind the scenes. “Forensics” includes the usual suspects of production: set design, cinematography, and for some strange reason, the relatives of the filmmakers. “Inadmissible” are the deleted scenes. In "Hearsay" we uncover my favorite funny bit: "Plot Holes," where various actors in character anticipate critical response to a few plot discontinuities. They relate how it all works out for the scene in question. Of course, the explanation is even more ludicrous than the plot hole they try to repair. Also included in The Evidence Room (now that I think of it, that room was completely empty in the movie!) is Simon's first cop movie "Dead Right" made when he was 18. It comes with an optional commentary and an intro. The Fuzzball Rally is a video blog of the Hot Fuzz U.S. Press Tour, featuring Simon, David and Nick. This one comes with optional commentary, which I enjoyed as much or more than the actual soundtrack. There's lots more, but I'm going to quit now while I'm behind.

The U-Control: Fuzz-O-Meter, like Shaun's Zomb-O-Meter, operates pop-ups with all manner of production details. U-Control can also bring up storyboards in concert with some of the scenes. All of the extra features are in 480i/p, and look fair to good. The only thing wanting is an HD presentation.

 

 

Bottom line: 9
More than with most films, I’m going to need a second viewing to make up my mind about Hot Fuzz. At the moment, after having seen it just this once, I am quite giddy about the experience. Image quality is excellent, considering the intentions of the design. Audio is even better. Extra features are informative and entertaining. Both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are priced to stale at $29.98 MSRP. That's less than $20.00 at Amazon. Hands Up.

Leonard Norwitz
September 8th, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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