Hot Fuzz: Ultimate Edition (US - BD)
Gabe completes his 'interview' with the Wilsons instead of reviewing the movie
Continuing from my Shaun of the Dead non-review, here is the second part of my exclusive interview with the superstar Wilson brothers, who play the cutlery chucking Butcher Brothers in Hot Fuzz. Again, this is my cheap way of avoiding turning my review into a dull retread of every other wildly positive nerd reading of the film.
Every time I describe you guys to someone (as I like to pretend we're very close when talking to girls at the bar) they assume I'm talking about Bill Bailey (in reference to Hot Fuzz). How does that make you feel?
Kevin: When Nira (Park, producer) called us and offered us the parts, we were asked if we minding looking different on-screen, as Bill Bailey played twins in Hot Fuzz, so there was a resemblance.
Exactly how many squibs were used during the meat counter shoot out?
Kevin: That’s a tricky one, as we have said earlier, Edgar really likes to get as much coverage as possible so if memory serves, that whole supermarket shoot-out sequence took a couple of days to film, so there were a hell of a lot of squibs rigged to blow. We frequently ran out of knives and cleavers to throw at the Filth, so we resorted to chucking anything that came to hand off the deli counter—though they’re not really visible in the long-shots (although given the high resolution of Blu-ray, you might see them!), we were throwing strings of plastic sausages and even those little plastic frogs that adorn the meat section for no good reason whatsoever.
Nick: Don’t forget to look out for the exploding pork-pie, which was lovingly rigged in front of us as we waited for a shot. When the damn thing went off, it showered the joint with combination of burnt pastry, hot pork and searing jelly. Sounds like the synopsis for a good porno!
How much time did you spend on set when your scenes weren’t filming, and did you get to meet any the massive stars for more than a ‘hello’?
Kevin: We certainly exchanged pleasantries with most of the cast—the coolest incident occurred on our first day on Hot Fuzz, when Edgar personally introduced us to Timothy Dalton; that was a pretty awesome moment, as we have been Bond fans for most of our lives and suddenly being introduced to a guy who played him was fabulous—every morning we’d see him on set or on location, he’d give us a cheerful northern greeting.
Nick: For those unfamiliar with that specific greeting, it’s ‘Ee-oop’.
I laughed out loud at the Chinatown joke in theatres, and was joined by no one. Have you ever seen the film with an ‘Average Joe’ type audience and heard anyone laugh at that joke, or do only movie nerds get it?
Nick: Absolutely! When we saw Naked Gun 2 ½, it was in a packed cinema on the opening weekend, and was getting a pretty good reaction. When the all the mayhem ensures towards the end, and Lloyd Bochner runs up screaming ‘It’s a cookbook!!’ we roared with laughter as the rest of the audience remained utterly quiet in their ignorance of a really funny gag. This is somewhat of a Wilson family tradition, as exactly the same thing happened when our father watched Airplane!—he was the only one in the whole cinema who laughed at the ‘…have you ever seen a grown man naked?’ line.
Do you think that the geriatric shoot out at the end of Hot Fuzz was possibly inspired by Lucio Fulci's Contraband?
Nick: With Edgar at the helm, it might well have been! Obviously—like us—he would be more familiar with it under the UK title of The Smuggler, but if you can see Edgar toting a tommy-gun during the mayhem, then that would confirm your theory!
This is the shot of Fulci in Contraband that Nick is alluding to
What is your favourite under-appreciated cop film? You may pick two if you guys disagree.
Kevin: Hmm, tricky. Although not strictly unappreciated, It’s tempting to say Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, as nobody can crack one off on-screen like Harvey Keitel, but we might opt for Terence Hill and Bud Spencer’s Crime-Busters (a.k.a. Super Fuzz), as watching Italy’s finest comedy-action heroes do their usual stuff in police uniforms makes for a surreal experience.
Nick: By the way, did you notice that there is mention of ‘Spencer Hill’ in Hot Fuzz? We didn’t get around to asking Edgar if it was a reference to those beloved He-Men of Europe, but you never know.
It has to be a reference. What do you know about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? I assume you're playing the Katayagani Twins?
Kevin: We’re not in Scott Pilgrim, but if Edgar ever needs us again, we’ll say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat, as he’s such a lovely guy; we’d crawl naked over a pit of flaming, broken glass for the guy—Simon, too!
Well I see the resemblance, even if Edgar Wright doesn't
It looked good on UK DVD, it looked good on US DVD, it looked good on HD DVD, and it looks good on Blu-ray. From what these eyes can tell the HD DVD and Blu-ray prints are identical, which is far from a problem. Improvements over Shaun of the Dead are mostly due to the obvious budgetary increases, and Wright’s aim to ape the looks of big Hollywood action like Bad Boys. There is a coolness to the entire print, with only a few key exceptions (the scene where Angel discovers the N.W.A.’s plans, for example, is much warmer), and contrast levels are especially high. The high contrast is a stylized thing, to be sure, but the light sources are pretty steadily believable. Sandford is a perpetually sunny town, but it’s still located in the UK, so there’s enough cloud cover to soften the intensity. The whites are quite bright, but not blinding, and they don’t often bleed over the sharp details. The same goes for the pure black shadows, which unlike the Shaun of the Dead, don’t absorb the surrounding hues. Colours are brighter than most of us experience in real life thanks to the digital grading process, with a couple primary poppers that stick out from the cool blues. The transfer is super sharp without the usual problems that go with such extremes, such as blooming or edge-enhancement. The details are consistent throughout the film as well, in varying lighting schemes, depths of field, and focal choices. Artefacts are not an issue, and neither is compression noise. I caught no digital blocking. The closest we get to impurity is the unavoidable film grain, which is far from a problem here, and only really noticeable if you’re looking for it.
I said in my Shaun of the Dead review that all pertinent sounds in an Edgar Wright production are exactly ten times louder than they’d be in real life. These films are perfect definitions of aural hyper-realism. Hot Fuzz takes the whole thing to an extreme rarely touched upon by relatively independent features, save perhaps Darren Aronofsky or Shinji Tsukamoto’s films (David Lynch’s nightmare soundscapes don’t count in this case, as they’re mostly made up of unmotivated effects). Speaking of Aronofsky, Hot Fuzz takes its sound to the nth degree with ‘hip-hop montage’ hyper-editing, which makes the process of flushing a toilet as aurally exciting as firing a gun (side note: Wright was messing with hip-hop montage on Spaced around the same time Aronofsky was dealing with it on Pi, but Sam Raimi did it first). Then the most traditional action stuff takes the Tony Scott/Michael Bay route, punching gun-shots, explosions, car crashes, and facial smacks up with an aggressive LFE track. This DTS-HD track makes sure the consistent surround and stereo effects are a hair more discreet than the old DVD release, and features a more terrifying LFE track (it’s perhaps too loud, frankly, I had to turn it down). The lossless quality also makes sure we don’t miss any of the more subtle editions, such as splattering viscera, aren’t lost among the films exciting musical soundtrack, which features Hollywood action mainstays, pop music, and some of Bond composer David Arnold’s most wonderfully action packed efforts.
I personally ordered the UK DVD release way back when, and realize I never got around to watching all these lovely extras. Those extras were made available as part of the ‘Ultimate Edition’ DVD, but not on the HD DVD release, so their presence here matches the audio as a reason to call for the ‘red to blu’ upgrade. The metric ton of extras begin with five, count ‘em, five feature commentaries (Wright/Pegg, Cop Actors, Wright/Quentin Tarantino, Sandford Village Actors, and Real Cops)Not one to spend my entire day watching Hot Fuzz over and over I skipped around for this review (I’m sure I’ll get to all six the whole way through some day), excepting the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg track, which I’d heard when I ordered the old UK DVD. The overwhelming quality of the sheer wave of information makes genuine criticism a bit difficult, but I can say with very little doubt that there isn’t a particularly weak track in the half-dozen. The information is all in-keeping with the participants’ knowledge base (track one is filled with the most behind-the-scenes info, track two is filled with fun times, track three is brimming with references and ‘You knows’, track four is full of old-time tales, and track five is pretty down-to-earth), and despite some overlap, everyone gets to learn something new.
‘We Made Hot Fuzz’ (30:00, SD), along with the commentaries, would’ve actually been enough to celebrate the extras. The rest is gravy. The rather packed little mini-doc includes on and of set interviews, and oodles of hilarious and enlightening raw behind-the-scenes footage. Subjects covered include inception, inspiration, homoeroticism, gathering the perfect British all-star cast, homage, character naming conventions, the perfect cast’s opinions on each other, working with firearms, fighting and driving stunts, bad British weather, and long filming days. It’s augmented by thirteen video blogs (30:00, SD), which give a more intimate look behind-the-scenes of the production. Each blog is pretty short, but they reveal personal bits that would normally go unnoticed, even considering how transparent these guys are with their fans, and they are really quite funny. The Peter Jackson cameo is a particular thrill. Oh right, there are also six subject specific featurettes (45:00, SD), covering location shooting and production design, Edgar Wright’s family and friends (including the Wilsons and Peter Jackson), fun with cameras, pyrotechnics, research and character prep, revisiting the locations for the local premiere, scripting charts, a montage of Pegg’s funny faces (02:00, SD), and a long take (01:00, SD). Then there are nine other blog entries, these of the advertising variety for VW (21:30) and iTunes (16:30, SD).
And that’s it for featurettes. Oh, except for ‘Fuzzball Rally’ (70:00, SD), an adorable look behind the scenes of the American leg (New York, DC, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and LA) of the Hot Fuzz press tour Wright, Pegg and Frost took. The featurette follows the gang from the airport, to massive post-showing interview sessions, smaller TV and radio interviews and coffee shops the country over. My personal biggest laugh out loud moment is the bit where the crew visit the Exorcist house, and Wright announces that ‘This is the one day of the year that Mark Kermode isn’t visiting’. And as if this little journey through the hardships of minor celebrity wasn’t enough fun, there’s a commentary track featuring all the participants (including videoographer Joe Cornish). This means fans can watch the same featurette twice and appreciate entirely different jokes. Well, largely differing jokes.
Then we have Edgar Wright’s 1993 short film Dead Right (40:00, HD), which itself features optional commentaries with Wright or Pegg and Frost. As Wright’s introduction tells us, this was a sort of dry run for Hot Fuzz (assuming ‘dry run’ can apply to films made fourteen years before the ‘real thing’). Sadly enough Wright’s childhood abilities exceed those of many paid adult directors, especially those working in the direct-to-Sci Fi network field. This isn’t to say it’s a comparatively good film. ‘AM BLAM: Making Dead Right’ (10:30, SD) is a cute little featurette with Wright describing the process behind this particular classic. Wright also compares the sets, actors and editing processes of the two films.
The disc also features a poster art gallery, a photo gallery, three plot hole explorations, eight effects before and after comparisons, an outtake reel (10:00, SD), ‘The Man Who Would be Fuzz’ (a joke at the expense of The Man Who Would be King), ‘Hot Funk’ (excerpts from the TV edit, 03:30, SD), ‘Danny’s Notebook: The Other Side’ (flipbook), four trailers, and two U-Control options—the Fuzz-O-Meter (which was on the DVDs) and storyboards.
Thanks again to those impossibly sexy Wilsons for their assistance with my writer’s block. Seems I have a bit left over though. Well, Blu-ray is clearly the best place to catch Hot Fuzz—the image quality is only two hairs away from absolute perfection, the DTS-HD track clearly outshines the DVD and HD DVD releases, and all the Ultimate Edition extras are included—all of them. Enough to choke at least a dozen horses. If you haven’t already purchased an advanced copy from Best Buy feel free to rush out this damn minute. Also grab a copy of the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ comic collections to prep for Edgar Wright’s next film.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 22nd September 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 French, DTS 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer/Actor Commentary, Actor Commentaries, Director/Director Commentary, Cop Commentary, Fuzz-O-Meter, Storyboards, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes, SFX Comparisons, Video Blogs, Image Galleries, Trailers, TV Spots
Easter Egg: No
Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Dalton, Julia Deakin, Patricia Franklin
Genre: Action and Comedy
Length: 121 minutes
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