Hot Fuzz (Steelbook)
Release Date(s)2007 (June 25, 2013)
Studio(s)Universal Studios (Focus Features)
I know I’ve gone on and on about Shaun of the Dead and how it’s my favorite film, but let’s take a look at the second film in the “Three Flavors Cornetto” trilogy of films: Hot Fuzz, which has also just recently been re-released in Blu-ray Steelbook packaging.
This time around, we’re treated to a Wicker Man like story about a cop (Pegg) who is semi-retired to a small village in the country after embarrassing his superiors and excelling beyond their expectations in the big city. It’s a seemingly innocent town that he soon realizes may be rotten to the core when a series of mysterious deaths begin to occur. With the help of his new partner, a local cop (Frost), the two become the only chance that this town has of being safe from itself.
While I can’t say that Hot Fuzz is better than Shaun of the Dead, I can safely say that it’s almost equal in entertainment value. Again, we’re treated to a film crammed full of references to other films that don’t really feel like references. They’re worked in and fit almost perfectly into the story. The film is merely a follow-up to Shaun of the Dead and not a sequel, but it carries the same sort of spirit. The characters may not be as relatable, but it’s genuine British genre camp, while at the same time being an actual entry into the genre itself. The film is sort of a homage to action movies, buddy cop movies and dark thrillers. And you can bet that it’s been well-thought out and well-written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Everything is of note, whether it be a line of dialogue or a location, everything has importance in the grand scheme of things. Again, it’s why Edgar Wright’s work can be watched over and over again. You can find new things in it each time you watch it that you didn’t notice before. The film is also furiously-paced, having more of a comparable style than the previous film. It oozes Tony Scott and Michael Bay, but for good reason. The film also has one of the best shootout showdowns of any action film of recent memory, and it’s all purely a love letter to the genre. Unfortunately, I don’t find it quite as perfect as Shaun of the Dead in the long run though, but there’s just so many positive things to say about it that it’s nearly impossible to pick on it, but I’ll try.
For starters, the film is much darker in tone than Shaun of the Dead, despite the comedy. The murders have a real punch and weight to them, and our characters feel like they’re in more overt danger than being bombarded by slow-moving zombies that one can usually and easily run away from. It isn’t quite as relatable on a character level either. Simon Pegg’s Nicholas Angel isn’t as charismatic or as lovable as Shaun was. He becomes more sympathetic over the course of the film through Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman, who feels like the more sympathetic of the two. His obsession with and love of cop movies and clichés are ultimately what tear down Angel’s pent up desire to be the end all, be all of the police force. In that sense, they both need each other to make the other look good, so we’re not initially drawn to their characters quite as well as we had been in Shaun of the Dead. And those are really my only complaints about the film, but it’s more of a comparison issue than anything because it stands up well on its own.
The biggest draw to the film, at least in my opinion, is the fact that it’s also a who’s who of British acting talent, with veterans Jim Broadbent, Edward Woodward, Billie Whitelaw, Paul Freeman, Stuart Wilson and Timothy Dalton, among others, taking up many of the main roles. It’s astonishing that this group of actors all came together for this film, and many of which had a genuinely good time making it. With a film that’s this intricately layered and gives more for a character to do than simply just say lines, it’s not surprising. Hot Fuzz was my favorite film of 2007, and continues to be like a great second act of a movement. It may not be as fantastic as the first, but it’s damned entertaining in its own right.
As with the Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray Steelbook release, what you get new with this new Blu-ray release is the Steelbook packaging only. The discs themselves, both the Blu-ray and DVD, are the same as previously released, including the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray and DVD releases. Now let’s take a look at the A/V quality with this release. You’ll find that the video quality is pretty much identical to the Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray release, which is to say that it’s extremely good without being completely perfect. It’s a less grainier film by comparison, but what’s there is very solid. The colors are a little better but the skin tones seem a little bright to me. Not that they look bad, but they look a tint towards the orange side. Blacks are also not as good as I’d hoped. They’re solid, but could have been a little darker. Brightness and contrast are good, but could have maybe been dialed down a little. For the audio, you get three options: English 5.1 DTS-HD and Spanish & French DTS 5.1. The English DTS-HD track, like the last film, packs quite a wallop. There’s plenty to keep your speakers busy, especially with the music and the sound effects. There’s quite a bit of ambient activity and dynamics moving from speaker to speaker. Despite the overwhelming backdrop, the dialogue is perfectly clear. So again yeah, it’s a great presentation that leaves a tiny bit to be desired from the video. Most probably won’t notice, however. There are subtitles in English SDH, Spanish and French for those who might need them.
Extras are a-plenty with this release, as well. You get five audio commentaries: one with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, another with Pegg, Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon and Olivia Colman, another with Wright and Quentin Tarantino, another with actors Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman and Edward Woodward, and finally, one with real-life policemen Andy Leafe and Nick Eckland; Inadmissable: Deleted Scenes (with or without commentary from Wright and Pegg); Outtakes; The Evidence Room, which includes the Conclusive: We Made Hot Fuzz documentary, Speculative: Video Blogs (13 in all), Forensic: Featurettes (8 in all), Photographic: Galleries (2 in all), Hearsay: Plot Holes & Comparisons, which features Plot Holes (3 in all) and Special Effects: Before & After (8 in all); and finally, Falsified: Dead Right, which includes the early Edgar Wright amateur film Dead Right, the Am Blam: Making Dead Right documentary plus two audio commentaries: one with Edgar Wright and the other with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost; The Fuzzball Rally: Uncut, with optional audio commentary by Wright, Pegg, Frost and Joe Cornish; The Man Who Would Be Fuzz segment; the Hot Funk airline version segment; Additional Video Blogs, which includes VW Blogs (5 in all) and iTunes Blogs (4 podcasts in all); Trailers, which includes the theatrical trailer, 2 UK TV spots and a Director’s Cut trailer; a Storyboard Gallery; a D-Box Motion Code option; U-Control; the “How To” Blu-ray User Guide option; the “What’s New” BD-Live option; and finally, an insert with a code for Ultraviolet and Digital Copy options, as well as an ad for The World’s End. The DVD is missing many of the extras that were later released on the Ultimate Edition Blu-ray and DVD, plus there are Dolby Digital soundtracks instead of DTS,
Because I’m just simply biased towards it, Shaun of the Dead will always be my favorite film that Wright, Pegg and Frost have made together, but I can’t deny my love for Hot Fuzz. It’s a great film, and one worth revisiting again and again. It’s almost like a brother to Shaun of the Dead in a way. The characters, the comedy, the story and the references are all there in spades, and even though this is technically a fourth dip into the Hot Fuzz home video well, at least it’s a quality film. It’s essential viewing and worth picking up if you haven’t already.
- Tim Salmons