The latest from the folks who made the popular horror hit, "Shawn of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz" sees Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright taking on the action genre and generally doing about as well with it as they did with horror. The film stars Pegg as Nicholas Angel, an exceptional police officer in London. In fact, he's so good that he continually shows up his fellow officers, who become annoyed enough to ship him off to a small town called Sanford.
Not long after arriving in town, he immediately goes to work trying to round up everyone who's committed minor crimes. After settling down a bit, local cop Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) pairs up Nick with his son, Danny (Nick Frost, also from "Shawn of the Dead"), who's never had to handle anything beyond "getting a cat out of the tree"-type of situations.
However, when a series of suspicious deaths occur, supercop Nick and bumbling Danny set out to try and uncover who's behind the mysterious incidents (the incidents themselves seem carried over from the horror of "Shaun of the Dead", as they're extremely gory and quite R-rated.) Nick eventually sets his sights on Skinner (Timothy Dalton), the local grocery owner who may be hiding a much darker side.
The picture certainly does have a rather padded middle section, as two hours does seem rather excessive (and there are points in the middle where the movie drags) for a movie like this, when a good 95-105 minutes would have done just fine. The build-up is funny and the insanely over-the-top ending is entertaining, but the movie could have tightened its focus somewhat around the middle.
Even when the movie starts to wander in the middle, the two leads still manage to keep the interest, as once again Frost and Pegg have a great buddy movie chemistry with one another, bouncing lines off each other quite naturally. Dalton, Broadbent and others (including a few surprise cameos) turn in great supporting efforts, as well.
I liked "Hot Fuzz" and found it to be a mostly appealing take on the action comedy. However, "Fuzz" doesn't reach the heights of "Shaun of the Dead", which managed to be a much tighter film and a somewhat snappier mix of laughs and thrills.
VIDEO: "Hot Fuzz" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality was largely terrific throughout the show, as sharpness and detail were excellent, aside from a few slightly softer moments. Some slight edge enhancement is spotted on a few occasions, but the print appeared crisp and clean, with no specks, marks or other concerns. Colors remained bright and well-saturated throughout the show, with no smearing or other flaws.
SOUND: "Hot Fuzz" is presented by Universal in Dolby Digital 5.1-EX. The film's soundtrack has about as much fun playing up action movie soundtracks as the movie has fun playing up action movies. Sound effects are loud, punchy and over-the-top (and sometimes wildly so), often with some deep bass behind them. The gunfight that essentially lasts the last quarter of the movie certainly puts the surrounds into overdrive, with plenty of action from the rear speakers. Audio quality was great, with crisp effects, dialogue and score.
EXTRAS: Commentary from writer/actor Simon Pegg and writer/director Edgar Wright, 22 deleted scenes with commentary, storyboards, "The Fuzzball Rally" (an entertaining 27-minute look at the film's US promo tour), "The Man Who Would Be Fuzz" clip (the two leads acting out a scene as Sean Connery and Michael Caine), trivia track, "Hot Fuzz" (a "tv-friendly" clip), 2 UK TV spots, the trailer, "director's cut" trailer (which appears to be a trailer cut by the director, not a trailer for a "director's cut" of the film) and outtakes.
Final Thoughts: "Hot Fuzz" mainly suffers from being too long; it's smart, funny, has some great action sequences and solid performances, but at two hours it starts to drag noticably during the middle section. The DVD offers up excellent audio quality, fine video quality and some fun extras. A recommended rental for those who haven't seen it, but fans should seek a purchase.
The Film B