It’s not often that a review starts with the final score, but I’m going to break that rule. Go out and buy this DVD set. Stop reading this review, leave your residence, and go directly to your nearest DVD retailer for a copy of the 3-disc version of Hot Fuzz. When I first watched Shaun of the Dead, I was absolutely blown away at how deftly creators Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright were able to mix the comedy, spoof and horror genres into one of the most entertaining and original films of the decade. While I had high hopes for the follow up project, deep down I was expecting to find a case of the sophomore slump; a good film that manages to fall short of the success of the debut. Not only was my gut feeling dead wrong, but I am of the opinion that the two have actually been able to surpass their previous success. Shaun of the Dead was not a fluke, but merely a warm-up to the amazing success of Hot Fuzz.
This time around, the pair (along with hilarious stalwart Nick Frost) cover the action film genre. Pegg plays a London cop so outstanding that he makes the rest of the department look bad, so he is shipped off to a sleepy countryside hamlet to hand out tickets to speeders and the occasional noisy pub patron. What he finds, however, is something more sinister than anything he had ever come in contact with on the streets of London.
The collaborative efforts of this filmmaking team have essentially created an entirely new genre of comedy. Sure, at the most basic level it’s a spoof film, but it is done in a serious manner, by people why obviously have a true love for the films that have inspired it. This is a film that is brilliantly funny, yet still manages to pull off some truly entertaining action sequences, all under the guise of a buddy cop film. Seriously… if you are a film fan at all, go see this film.
I recently made the jump to HD DVD, so I was expecting these discs to have that same “last-gen” look that most of my other DVDs have. I don’t know what kind of processes the DVD producers went though for this set, but the video looks amazing. It is easily approaching the high definition quality that I am coming to expect form more advanced film presentations. The images are amazingly clear, with deep, deep black levels. The colors of the English countryside are absolutely vibrant, and the green of the hedgerows pops in a way that completely took me off guard. There is some extremely slight edge enhancement in some scenes, but that is an extremely minor issue that I probably wold not have even noticed if I were not watching the film for review purposes. To put it succinctly, this set is the gold standard for DVD video quality.
Is it possible that the audio and the video departments had a contest to see which one could out-do the other? If so, then they finished in a tie. The audio track here is superb. The subwoofer channel is especially amazing, with rich, loud tones that fill the room with powerful bass notes that lend some real heft to the gunfire and explosions, and even some comedy to some scenes, such as when entering the highly-secure evidence room. Surrounds are used in perfevct balance and harmony with the rest of the speakers; strong when they sound be, but not utilized to excess.
Speaking of the evidence room, the Foley in this film is first-rate. Every scene features the kind of over-the-top sound effects that have become commonplace in so many modern action films, slightly enhanced for comedic effect. The score follows the same path, both contributing to the comedy and adding to the tension of dramatic scenes. First class, all around.
Where do I even begin? I knew I was really in for something special when I experienced how packed-full of special features the first disc of this set was. There are no fewer than FIVE commentary tracks here, all of them excellent. While most are of the standard cast and crew variety, there is one with Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino (who appears as a fan of the film), and one by two actual English small town police officers who served as technical advisers. All of the tracks are worth your time. There is also a trivia track and a segment that allows you to watch the film with the accompanying storyboards. There is a fantastic outtake reel that is actually quite funny, as well as an additional extra with one single outtake. Two trailers and two TV spots are also on disc one, as is a short clip that shows the cartoon that was on the other side of Danny’s notebook. Rounding out disc one is a collection of no fewer than 22 deleted scenes with optional commentary, and a very funny segment that showcases un-intentionally amusing dialog from the TV version of the film.
Disc two keeps the amazing extras rolling, starting with a 30-minute documentary called We Made Hot Fuzz. This is more than your average electronic press kit, thought admittedly it does begin to drag a little toward the end. There are eight 5-minute featurettes included on this disc, focusing on wardrobe, set design and other departments. Three Plot Holes segments are also included, which play like storyboards in comic book form. Special Effects: Before and After is a collection of all of the different film layers that went into creating eight different visual effects shots. There are thirteen video blogs which were originally created to be showcased on the internet during the film’s production. Each runs approximately two minutes in length. A photo gallery and a poster gallery are also included.
Disc two wraps up with Dead Right: Edgar’s First Cop Movie. This is the complete footage of one of Edgar’s very early amateur films, and it runs an amazing 40-minutes in length. In the ironic style of the filmmaker, this student film actually has two commentary tracks of its own, one by Wright himself, and one by Pegg and Frost.
As if this wasn’t enough, disc three has even more extra footage, the bulk of which is a 40-minute documentary on the film’s press tour, called The Fuzball Rally – Uncut. Finally, the whole thing wraps up with even more video blogs. This time there are five that were shot for Volkswagen, and four video podcasts shot for release on iTunes.
This is an absolutely massive amount of special features for any film, but what really makes it notable is that they are all high quality, from start to finish. I have watched DVDs with a couple of extras tacked onto a single disc, and they have all been half-hearted fluff. To meet a high-level of quality and follow through with it for three discs is simply amazing. Kudos go to the filmmakers and DVD producers for creating a first-rate collection of extras that really go the extra mile for the consumer.
Are you still reading this? Didn’t I start off by telling you to run out and buy this thing? Stop wasting your time reading my amateur review, and start spending some quality time with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s new masterpiece of comedy cinema. It is not often that you come across a three-disc set for a comedy film, but this is not your average comedy. This is a film that deserves the Lord of the Rings treatment on DVD, and they pull it off full-force.