Tuesday 31 July 2007

Hot Fuzz (2007) Edgar Wright

Being a long time Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan, I took notice when some reviewer (David Wong at pointlesswasteoftime.com, I just checked) suggested that 'There was a movie that perfectly captured the Douglas Adams experience, the combination of bitter sarcasm and sharp imagination, the droll British wit and whale-exploding slapstick that infused his novels. And that movie was Shaun of the Dead.' I liked the version of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy that finally got released, far more than I expected to, while acknowledging that it wasn't a patch on the original radio series, let alone the book or the TV series or the towel. Maybe I was just happy to see Douglas Adams's material on the big screen that I didn't pay as much attention to what had been done to it. I liked Shaun of the Dead too, but wasn't blown away by it while so many others were.

So here's another film by the same people: director and co-writer Edgar Wright, co-writer and lead actor Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost, and I thought it was better than Shaun of the Dead. To be honest, I thought it was quite wonderful but it was really two films not one and the first was so much better than the second.

Police Constable Nicholas Angel works for the SO19 special unit in the London Metropolitan Police. Apparently he rocks. Big time. His arrest record is 400% higher than anyone else, and so the force promotes him into the countryside so he can't show them up any more. Of course he's a complete fish out of water in the peaceful village of Sandford, where the police are rather lax as nothing much has happened in over twenty years. Something bizarre is definitely going on but only Angel believes so.

This film is all about dark satire and the longer it runs the darker it get. There's talk about 'the greater good' and its message could so easily be applied to nigh on everything that comes out of any politician's mouth nowadays on either side of the Atlantic. Replace it with 'think of the children' and you'll know what I'm talking about. It has been done before but possibly never as well as here. I was always a step ahead of where it wasa taking me but only one and I appreciated that.

Unfortunately at a very definable point (the graveyard scene, so as not to provide a spoiler), it becomes another film entirely: a spoof on Hollywood action films. It's done very well indeed and it's set up nicely but the transition is a little jarring and I couldn't help but want to get back to that first film. Simon Pegg is excellent and Nick Frost may even be better, without anywhere near as much screen attention. Support from people of the calibre of Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton can't hurt, along with a few others that I ought to recognise from British TV but can't quite put my finger on yet. I completely didn't notice Edward Woodward.

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