Because I reviewed Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End and couldn’t stand the gap in the middle…
As it turns out, not only do Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost love horror movies, but they love action movies too. And, although I suspect this is no surprise to anyone, they can bust out a pretty dynamite one of their own when they need to. For it is the great secret of all of their films that they parody what they parody not by existing above it but by emulating it, recreating it with an eye for detail and a studied approach, and in some cases reading it past itself to expose some of its silliness and lunacy. Thus is Hot Fuzz, not quite the genuine surprise that Shaun of the Dead proved to be (what, the guys who made one of the best comedies of the modern era made another comedy and it’s stupendous… consider me staggered). But it’s a genuine barn-burner nonetheless, firing on multiple overlapping comic cylinders and staking its claim as one of the few modern comedies for which the filmic arts – that is to say directing, editing, and the like – are as fundamental to the nature of the laughs as the writing and the acting.
Where-as most film series tend to decline in quality with age, time has been kind to Tom Cruise and his chosen cash-cow, the Mission Impossible films. While this 2011 entry lacks Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s deliciously bored villain, no small part of why III was the best entry in the series up to that point, it’s an improvement in just about every other way. Above all, and most surprisingly, it has a sense of humility. In its treatment of its characters less as too-kewl-for-school icons and more as confused, kinda-wacky cartoon personalities defined less by their self-serious gloom than much smaller, much more affecting and endearing character moments, it finally approaches a sense of identity for a series that often seemed happy-go-lucky to ape other franchises. This is a “big” film, but it doesn’t feel “big” in the way other blockbusters do – it has a lived-in quality, less about one man doing stunts than a team struggling to get along and admit they’re enjoying themselves while doing it (although it certainly has plenty of the former as well). At times, it even mocks the self-seriousness of other blockbuster franchises, and implicitly, itself in the process. It would appear what they say about looking back on your misfortune with a smirk is true. At the least, MIIV believes it is true, and it wants us to know it too. Continue reading