This week delivers two of the best films of 2007, along with a few other interesting titles. The biggest problem with all of these releases each week is finding the time to watch them all. There is only so much time in the day that one can devote to the shiny disks of joy. Sometimes you just have to forgo the niceties of life, food, car, family, just so you can make the time to fit in all that you want to see. I kid, of course, but there are so many movies and shows to watch that it is very easy for your eyes to get bigger than your watch. Still, we all do what we can. This week's releases are sure to take up a little bit of that time.
This week's choice was rather tough, as favorites from earlier this year arrive on store shelves. On one hand we have the fictional take of the Battle of Thermopylae, and on the other hand there is the love letter to action films, and the hilarity that results. It was a tough choice, but if you read the title of the column, you already know the winner of this battle, but believe me, it was very close. Oh yes, if you didn't read the title, the winner is Hot Fuzz.
Simon Pegg stars as Nicholas Angel, a straight-laced, by the book police officer. He is a man who is very good at what he does; unfortunately, he is too good at what he does. Because of his prolific arrest record, he is given a promotion which forces a change of scenery, you see — the rest of the force are tired of looking bad in the wake of his success, so this is a conspiracy to allow them to shine. Angel ends up in a small town with low crime and a rather high number if accidents. Angel sees that something is up, and he takes his goofy partner, played by Nick Frost, and attempts to get to the bottom of things.
I really don't want to spoil it, so I will refrain from any further plot description. Suffice to say that the movie is the perfect balance of story, character, and humor. The cliches that are so prevalent in these types of films are skillfully skewered here yet feel so natural in service to the plot. It is a satire poking fun at action films and gun culture that admires them just as much as it mocks them. This is what a satire should be.
Co-writers Edgar Wright (who also directed) and Simon Pegg have crafted a story that develops characters that we can genuinely feel for while peppering their dialogue with comedic touches both blatant and subtle. It is a movie that has as many hidden jokes as it does overt silliness. It is a film that is not constrained by its genre roots, gleefully taking those conventions, turning them on their ear and then blasting them back out onto the screen.
Extras include deleted scenes with optional commentary, audio commentary with Pegg and Wright, storyboards, a trivia track, outtakes, and a making of featurette.
Also out this week:
- 300. This is visionary filmmaking, this is the beginning of legend. This is not a factual retelling — what it is is amazing, it's action-filled and just a blast to watch. It is available in single disk and two-disk special editions.
- Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. New Babylon 5 is here. Fans have been waiting a long time for this; the wait is over.
- Pathfinder. Decent action, but not a terribly good movie. Rental only.
- Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 (Act of Violence / Mystery Street / Crime Wave / Decoy / Illegal / The Big Steal / They Live By Night / Side Street / Where Danger Lives / Tension). Another collection of Warner Brothers classics.
- Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938. Last week brought a Woody Woodpecker collection, this week brings some more classic theatrical toons to the DVD format.
- 20 Million Miles to Earth: 50th Anniversary Edition. The Ray Harryhausen classic remastered for its anniversary, it also includes a Harryhausen supervised colorized version. Not sure I like that….
- Roving Mars. An IMAX documentary that brings a great look at the Mars rover missions.
- The Darwin Awards. This is the fictional movie that takes you inside those devious awards. They have to be investigated in order to be considered, and Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes do that investigation.
- Dead Clowns. Gory zombie clowns wreaking havoc. How can you go wrong?
- Kung Fu Hustle: Axe Kickin' Edition. The edition that was released in the US was a cut version, this is the original Hong Kong cut.
So, what are you going to spend some time with?