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Day: August 21, 2013

[Movie Review] Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz directed by Edgar Wright and staring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is the second flavor in the cornetto trilogy. The first being Shaun of the Dead and the last being the soon to be arriving The World’s End. Each movie is it’s own genre. Shaun is horror. Hot Fuzz is action. The World’s End is alien/robot invasion.
Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a police officer in the London that is constantly working much to dismay of his soon to be ex-girlfriend played by an uncredited Cate Blanchett even after getting stabbed through the hand by a drunk Father Christmas played by an uncredited Peter Jackson.
His bosses played by Martin Freeman, Bill Nighly and an uncredited Steve Coogan aren’t to happy with him either and decide to send him off to the county town of Sandford for a little rest. The editing of all of these events from Nicholas’s introduction via voice over to the arrival at Sanford are slick and everything introduced in the first twenty minutes is used through out the movie.
The villagers of Sandford are well meaning folks. Played by several UK actors like Timothy Dalton, Olivia Coleman, Paddy Considine, Paul Freeman and many more. Timothy Dalton being the only one that is relishing his role at eating scenery. Nicholas attempts to settle down and unwind aren’t helped by Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman because of Danny’s awe, general fanboy of Nicholas’s deeds and being a giant action movie junkie. His DVD wall reminds me of my wall before I sold them.
But there are things afoot in Sandford. People are dying via horrible accidents and it takes Nicholas the rest of Act 2 to piece everything together by researching his hypothesis and putting the puzzle pieces together until he confronts the problem and like one of Danny’s Hollywood heroes roars into a third act with guns blazing. The movie’s plotting as a whole feels refreshing and expects the audience to keep up as it takes itself seriously.
Well almost seriously since the movie goes from being a Masterpiece Theater Mystery to a Michael Bay shoot’em up in the last twenty minutes. Thankfully the action pieces have been kept to a minimum throughout so the car chases or gunfights are not boring. Many of Danny’s outlandish questions regarding Nicholas’s work are immediately squashed since police work like flying an airplane: it’s very very very boring. His character and Sandra Bullock’s character from Demolition Man are essentially the same but with a sex change.
Having said all that it should then come to no surprise as the last act everything is an homage to action movies. This isn’t a bad thing since Edgar Wright knows his audience and knows we aren’t idiots. This was filmed for the Die Hard/Lethal Weapon/geek crowd and it does not disappoint from the gun fights to car chases to explosive fourth act reveal it’s a fun movie.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to this either set it in the USA ala Red Dawn/any other movie dealing with the fish out of water-trope so long as they saddle Nicholas with a woman partner.

[Movie Review] Shaun of the Dead

Released in 2004, Shaun of the Dead was directed by Edgar Wright and starred Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and a whole lotta zombies.
Filmed three years after Wright’s TV show Spaced. Shaun, played by Simon Pegg is not yet your typical man child. His life at sales person at the electronic store is dull. His relationship with his roommate, Darth Maul, er, Pete played by Peter Serafinowicz is on par with his step dad, Phillip played by Bil Nighy is rocky to say the least while the few bright spots being his girlfriend Liz played by Kate Ashfield, playing video games with his best friend Ed played by Nick Frost and going to the pub.
Unfortunately, Kate and her friends, Dianne and David played by Lucy Davis and Dylan Moran feel Shaun needs to expand his horizons since they are always going to the pub. She wants to go out to nice restaurants and get out and see the world and breaks up with Shaun.
This sends his small world into a tailspin. Meanwhile in the background through out the first act things are starting to stand out like the Omega 6 space probe that broke up over England. The bodies collapsing at the bus stop. The military vehicles driving around in packs and quite possibly the vagrant eating a live pigeon.
A new day dawns only to find Shaun’s world has been spun even more with the rise of Zombies. If the news is reporting it must be true, right? The lovely tracking shot to and from Shaun’s house pre and post zombie invasion serves it’s purpose for the before and after. The encounters being small as Shaun and Ed find they cannot stay in their home or bring people back and after several What If montages they cement a plan into place to track down Kate & Co, get to his mother’s to pick up his step dad and hole up in the bar until the bitter end.
The plans as always do not go as planned thanks muchly to Ed’s wants and needs from driving several fancy cars, running several zombies over and ignoring the fact the world is ending. Ed doesn’t have much of an arc except to be the comic relief while Shaun does grow up by burying the hatchet with his step dad.
Throughout the movie between the slick editing, long camera shots and whip snap dialogue there are nods and homages to zombies movies. The movie manages to cover new ground while keeping itself firmly within the standard zombie movie framework with the Winchester Pub being the bunker/house/mall that will hold up for only so long while the characters erode under the pressure of the apocalypse outside.
The SFX throughout are well done. The blood and guts are mostly for show until the finale when several characters are either turned into zombies or torn apart by the horde. For the purists the zombies are the shambling kind and do not race like 28 Days Later.
This is the first movie in Wright’s unofficial cornetto trilogy and is well worth spending money on via iTunes/Amazon if you have seen it.
I highly recommend a double shot of Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland since both movies are well made and thought out even if Zombieland’s third act falls apart.