Hot Fuzz: 3-Disc Collector's Edition – DVD Review

Directed by:
Edgar Wright

Starring:
Simon Pegg … Sergeant Nicholas Angel
Nick Frost … PC Danny Butterman
Jim Broadbent … Inspector Frank Butterman
Timothy Dalton … Simon Skinner
Paddy Considine … DS Andy Wainwright
Rafe Spall … DC Andy Cartwright
Kevin Eldon … Sergeant Tony Fisher
Olivia Colman … PC Doris Thatcher
Karl Johnson … PC Bob Walker
Bill Bailey … Sergeant Turner
Edward Woodward … Tom Weaver
Billie Whitelaw … Joyce Cooper
Eric Mason … Bernard Cooper
Stuart Wilson … Dr Robin Hatcher
Paul Freeman … Rev Philip Shooter
Kenneth Cranham … James Reaper

Universal Studios presents Hot Fuzz. Written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Running time: 121 minutes. Rated R (for violent content including some graphic images, and language.). Released on DVD: November 27, 2007. Available at Amazon.com.

The Movie


Three years ago Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg were suddenly hit with worldwide acclaim by critics far and wide for their send up to the Romero zombie flicks, Shaun of the Dead. Having only previously been known for a little known television series that had found a nice little cult following all its own, they quickly had the eyes of the cinematic world on them. So now, with the same creative team once again coming together for a new feature film that takes aim at the buddy cop and action-centric films of the 80’s, there was a bit of expectation by critics and audiences alike.

Nicholas Angle is too good at his job, so much so that he’s making everyone around him look bad. After finally getting the promotion that he so sought after for his entire career, Angel now finds himself punished by being sent to the quite village of Sandford in rural Gloucestershire, where crime is seemingly non-existent. His new partner, police constable Danny Butterman, is an action film junkie who’s personal film library contains seemingly every action flick known to man, including every single Jerry Bruckheimer and Joel Silver production. When locals start popping up dead due to what many Villagers refer to as “accidents”, Angel can’t repress his natural instincts to look deeper into the occurrences and soon discovers some very unsettling things about the three-time running Village of the Year. Which leaves it up to him and Butterman to solve the case before things get worse.

Which is what instantly sets Hot Fuzz apart from all of the other parody and homage films of its ilk; it works on its own as a story without needing to rely on mimicking a certain type of genre to keep the audiences interest. It doesn’t take the easy or passionless route like others, where they look down at what they’re trying to create. If anything, Fuzz works even better because so much respect and admiration is shown for the action films they’re referencing. Yes, even Bad Boys II. They don’t assault the senses from start to finish like directors they’re paying tribute to. Instead, there is a very clear cut story being told, with every single line of dialogue holding some type of importance to the larger picture. With plenty of gun play and explosions to please the Bay, Scott and Woo fans in the audience.


Simon pegg has the tough job of making his character a likable one, it’s difficult mainly due to Angel being very close to John Ashton’s character from Beverly Hills Cop. It isn’t until the time the credits role that the audience finally realizes that they were cheering on a pencil pushing, by the books, stickler for details and not the wise-cracking loose cannon that we’ve grown accustomed to in films of this type. Beyond that, the entire village of Sandford is populated by just about every classically trained British actor with an action film on their resume. There aren’t many other movies around where you’ll find Paul Freeman (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man, The Equilizer), Billie Whitelaw (Frenzy), and Stuart Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3) working as background actors. We also have Jim Broadbent as the lovable local police inspector Frank Butterman, who can incite laughter with a simple glance. And then there’s Timothy Dalton, who proves here that he can do no wrong so long as he’s sporting a mustache. Yet, impressive as the entire ensemble cast may be, it’s Nick Frost who really stands out in the cast. His portrayal of Danny Butterman steals every scene, be it a simple glance or geeking out over what he thinks a cop does while on the beat. His character could have easily come off as a neerdowell, instead Frost gives Danny a heart of gold.

There are a few problems with the films that could be chocked up to some slight over indulgence. Mainly the fact that Wright and Pegg seem to have found it necessary to include some of the well established action conventions and cliches even if they might not have been needed in this story. The best example being the films numerous endings which even they themselves admit to being drawn out as a nod to the old shoot em’ up’s. But it’s only a nod to the viewers who have seen this done before, with an even smaller fraction of them even finding that to be a admirable trait of the genre. It almost feels like it carries on a bit too long due to the director holding on to a closing moment he had in his head that he couldn’t let go for the betterment of the film.

While a double dip of this nature usually constitutes an extended edition with some type of over thought title to put on the DVD cover, Hot Fuzz doesn’t need any work done to it in order to be considered one of 2007’s best films. The story is smart and witty, with direction and writing that more comedy centric directors could learn from. Now with two certifiable hits under their belts, I can’t wait to see what Pegg and Wright come up with next.


The DVD

Quality:
This new DVD appears to port over the exact same transfer as the previous single disc release. Which means that the very same soft picture and hints of aliasing in several scenes are still here. The movie may not replicate the pristine, flawless video quality of a Michael Bay or Tony Scott film but it never hurts how the movie plays while watching. The disc also includes the English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX tracks which, considering that there are eight audio tracks on the disc, still pack one heck of a wallop during playback. The movie makes ample use of sound, to a point where it becomes a character in the film all itself, and there’s hardly a moment where the speakers aren’t doing something to pull in the viewer.

Extras:

Disc One
Commentary with Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright – This one is about as close as you’ll get to a serious, straight-faced commentary track for Hot Fuzz. It is the exact same one that was previously available on the single disc release that came out all the way back in July. Sarcasm aside, Ed and Nick talk about the whole creative process and experience filming the movie, along with all of the research that went into writing the film.

Commentary with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Rafe Spall, Kevin Eldon & Olivia Colman – Is a more traditional cast commentary where they mainly point out, scene by scene, what it was like while shooting. This track serves as your “funny” commentary, which is bound to happen when you get six genuinely witty people in a room together. They keep things interesting and always seem to have something to say while recording.

Commentary with Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Paul Freeman & Edward Woodward – Sadly, this track is perhaps the least lively of the five, where the participants quite frequently get caught up watching the movie and just stop talking. For a long time. They do however provide some fun anecdotes from not just their experience on Fuzz but stories spanning their entire film careers, which makes this a must listen.

Commentary with The Real Fuzz – Any Leafe & Nick Eckland – Perhaps the one many would consider to be the least interesting, this track is actually quite the informative listen. They look at the movie though very logical eyes, pointing out some of the little things that Ed and Nick took some creative license with in the story. It’s also nice to hear people reacting to some of the effects used without that jaded tone in their voice that you hear on many other DVD commentaries.

Commentary with Edgar Wright & Quentin Tarantino – Playing out like two big films geeks gushing over their favorite films for two hours straight, this track exudes pure awesome. Quentin’s discussion about his time working on Crimson Tide is hilarious. They talk about their personal preference of writing a film alone, rather than with a large group of writers cobbling together a script. Their experience with test screenings and focus groups is especially worth listening to. The track also serves as the start of a few jabs at this double dip.

Outtakes (10:22) – Features a lot of funny outtakes from the cast. Best of all is a brief appearance of Timothy Dalton where he’s unaware that the camera is still rolling. Certainly worth watching once or twice.

Inadmissible: Deleted Scenes (20:37) – Several times on this DVD Wright mentions that he intended for the film to have a 120-minute running length. So while many scenes here are funny on their own and could have easily been left in the movie, they were removed for good reason. He also includes a running commentary over all of them covering why some were left out, or what they significance would have been to the film. One interesting bit here is a subplot that was completely excised from the final cut.

Fuzz-O-Meter – This fact track never takes a break. By the time your done reading one, the next is right there on the screen for you to take in. Throwing nonstop information at you. While a lot of the tidbits found here are also echoed in the commentary tracks and elsewhere in the set, things like song titles, shooting locations and some unnoticeable references are brought up during playback.

Storyboards – With this viewing option chosen, a police badge will periodically appear in the top right-hand corner, where upon selecting it you’ll be able to see the storyboards for that particular scene.

Danny’s Notebook (:22) – Here we’ve been given the other side of Danny’s flipbook, which features a robber being run over by a car. Multiple times.

Hot Funk (3:44) – Is a compilation of all the alternate takes to cover up cursing that are used on airplanes and for future TV broadcasts. They were contractually obligated to make this “softer” version of the film, although ‘Frank, this silt just got real” just doesn’t have the right ring to it.

Trailers (4:42 total) – Included are the films Theatrical Trailer, UK TV Spot 1, UK TV Spot 2, and a Director’s Cut Trailer.

The Man Who Would Be Fuzz – (:35) Is a short scene of Frost and Pegg pulling off their best Sean Connery and Michael Caine impersonations. It’s a nice companion piece to The Man Who Would Be Shaun, but not quite as good.

Disc Two
We Made Hot Fuzz (29:33) – One trait that has been seeping in to each and every single making-of featurette these days is a sense of them trying to sell you on the film you’ve already seen. Thankfully, that is kept to a bare minimum here, where instead of them talking about the film, they speak endlessly about how enjoyable it was to work with everyone involved. In fact, it’s a genuinely funny documentary that just so happens to cover the films conception, casting, and the actual experience while shooting.

Art Department (4:45) – Discussed here is all of the work that went into giving Sandford all of the tiny, seemingly unnoticeable details that helped give the village life. We get a look at all of the hidden action film references that never really get shown on screen, little homages to action/cop film icons by way of street names (Callahan Park, Norris Hill) or local eateries (Yun Fat). One very important lesson we learn here is to never let Simon or Nick near a props table in front of a rolling camera.

Friends & Family (5:10) – Nepotism is alive and well on the set of Hot Fuzz, as here we see Edgar’s brother, Oscar, who worked on the films storyboards, we get a few brief on set interviews with friends and family who worked as extras, along with director’s Garth Jennings and Pete Jackson who also had brief cameos in the picture. Jackson’s speech towards the end about how he prepared for the role is a must watch.

Cranks, Cranes & Controlled Chaos (5:30) – This featurette takes a look at all of the fun toys that Wright got to play with while making Fuzz. We wee cameras on just about everything, including a Segue (Gob Bluth would be proud). He talks about the use of hand cranking, steady cams, and all of the other technical devices used to give the film a unique feel unlike any other British action film.

Here Come the Fuzz (4:19) – The cast talks about how much preparation went in to becoming Sandford’s finest. Kevin Eldon’s story of joining the Vietnamese Police steals the show and, quite possibly, the DVD as a whole.

Return to Sandford (11:07) – Nick, Simon and Edgar revisit Wells after shooting, talking about their experiences along with the reaction of the locals. It’s interesting to hear that while their home town of Wells was the basis for the screenplay, it wasn’t originally going to be the shooting location. The featurette ends in the premiere of the film in Wells.

Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart (14:03) – The Shaun of the Dead DVD had an extra that I still consider to be one of the most interesting looks at the creative process, and that was Simon and Edgar’s flip chart. Once again, they reveal the copious amount of pages before they even started working on the screenplay, showing just how much preparation went into crafting the story and characters — along with some of the material that was excised from the final film.

Simon Muggs (2:09) – Due to constantly playing the straight man in every scene, Simon would occasionally goof around after a take. So here we’re given a montage of him, as the title implies, mugging for the camera. If there’s one thing this entire DVD set makes perfectly clear, it’s that Simon Pegg had an absolute blast making this movie.

Sergeant Fisher’s Perfect Sunday (1:08) – Here, in all it’s glory, is Kevin Eldon recording his “Perfect Sunday” speech. Wright is seen just a couple feet away and can barely contain himself, although the boom operator seems very nonplus about the whole thing.

Plot Holes (3:22 total) – There are three scenes here, via storyboards, meant to fill in a few of the gaps found in the film. Since the included scenes are all related to important plot points, I’ll just say that they do a fine job of clearing things up — the included voice overs were a nice touch.

Special Effects: Before & After (6:23 total) – Gives us a brief look at eight scenes from the film that featured special effects. Basically we’re shown all of the individual elements and then all of them combined for the final composite. all of the “terrible accidents”, interesting to see how digital blood is made.

Video Blogs (29:55 total) – While the back of the DVD says 23 blogs, there were only 12 produced for the Fuzz website during production. Here we’re given 13, the bonus one takes us on a tour of the Standford Police Station. A lot of footage from these blogs were used in other featurettes in the set, but here they’re all in their raw, original form. In them you’ll find out all about the troubles of shooting on location in London and what a cast and crew can do with an excessive amount of free time on their hands. Nick and Simon love hamming up to the cameras, and they make all of these blogs a blast to watch.

AM Blam: Making ‘Dead Right’ (10:29) – Is a short retrospective where Edgar talks about his experiences while making this short student film. Hearing him talk about the importance of sound in a film is certainly worth hearing. The same can be said about his views on what gets a reaction from audiences and how to maximize sales.

Dead Right (40:10) – Here we have the full film to view, and it plays out a lot like every other student film. The movie is about a Harry Callahan type character who is trying to solve a series of murders. What’s most interesting here is the unmistakable comedic tone and editing styles that have pretty much become Wrights calling card. There are two audio commentaries included for this, one with Wright alone on a Director’s track and another with Pegg and Frost reacting to what’s happening. Both are worth a listen, if only to hear Pegg reacting almost like the film is being used as a torture device on him.

Ending the disc are a couple Galleries for Poster artwork and Production Photos.

Disc Three
The Extended Fuzzball Rally (1:11:06) – Considerably lengthened from its original 25 minute running time on the previous release, this documentary covers what happens when three guys are taken out of their natural habitat with minimal sleep for three consecutive weeks; forced to travel the United States and be subjected to the same twenty questions with slight variations. We get to see how they pass the time during phone interviews, them marveling at the efficiency of toilet in the States by flushing several cakes down the drain, while also trying to one-up each other for their film knowledge by naming off different movies based in or around their current geographical location. As they travel the country providing small screenings for packed theaters to get word of mouth out, it’s becomes really interesting to see the affects on man when thrown to the wolves… err, I mean press. Also included on the feature is a running commentary track with Wright, Pegg, Frost and Joe Cornish, who shot all of the footage. They spent quite a bit of their time mocking the hell out of this double dip during the commentary, mentioning a new DVD every six weeks from here to eternity (not to mention all of the in-store exclusives). It adds another layer of entertainment to an already enjoyable feature.

VW Blogs (21:32 total) – There are five included video blogs here which, I’m assuming, were available on the Volks Wagon website? They feature Simon and Nick being invited to the VW testing facility for some stunt driving, an HMV signing, a look at their UK press tour, another Q&A session, and finally the wold premiere for Hot Fuzz on the blue carpet. The videos are boxed in, which means the actual content only about 40% of the screen, and even then it shows some considerably poor video compression. which is a shame considering how entertaining they are after the first one, which comes across a bit of an advertisement.

iTunes Fuzzcasts (16:34 total) – Lastly, we have all four Video Podcasts that were released to help promote the films UK release. While these could have come across as generic promotional pieces, the guys make them really fun to watch. While watching you get to se the have a discussion about Michael Bay’s obsession with throwing things off of other things onto even more things, the similarities and differences between Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, iconic on-screen cop duos, while also playing a few games. It’s only periodically that they make sure to mention the films release date, and even then it’s hard for them to keep a straight face.

The Inside Pulse

In a year where Apatow Mania has run a muck, Hot Fuzz remains, unequivocally, the best comedy of 2007. Proving that there really is no such things as a sophomore slump. While it was much to the ire of many customers when news came out about a new three disc DVD release just three short months after the films first home video release, this edition of Hot Fuzz is a must own. Because really, when you’re given roughly 24 hours worth of material to dig through, there’s very little room to complain.

The one complaint that could be lodged against this title is the packaging, and I don’t mean the wonderfully designed digipak inside. No, I’m talking about how they decided to have it be removed from the bottom of the slip cover. Which means anyone could easily have everything fall out and smash to the floor if they aren’t careful when grabbing it off the shelf.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Hot Fuzz: 3-Disc Collector’s Edition
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

9
THE VIDEO

7.5
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

10
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
9.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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