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Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray Disc review by Tim Salmons of The Digital Bits

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray Disc)

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Pulp Fiction
1994 (2011) - Lionsgate/Miramax
Released on Blu-ray on October 4th, 2011
Also available on DVD


Film Rating: A+
Video (1-20): 19
Audio (1-20): 20
Extras: A-

For being one of the most successful independent movies ever made, Pulp Fiction has certainly stood the test of time. Since its theatrical release in 1994 and subsequent home video releases, it continues to influence filmmakers from all genres while maintaining a freshness that few films like it could ever hope to achieve.

Looking at Tarantino's filmography, Pulp Fiction is obviously the best film that he ever made. Some might argue that title belongs to Reservoir Dogs, or even Inglorious Basterds, but I have to wholeheartedly disagree. To me, Reservoir Dogs seems to be forever pigeonholed (unintentionally) as a heist drama for young teenagers and adults, and it's not the only film to do this. Scarface has also befallen this curse and you can't walk into a gas station without seeing Tony Montana keychains, bandanas or ashtrays on display somewhere inside. But getting back to my original point, Pulp Fiction seemed to reach people of all ages and genres without being secluded into a particular niche. Sure Inglorious Basterds and the Kill Bill series were successful and popular among today's generation, but those films followed a narrative formula that Pulp Fiction defined over a decade earlier. They're great films in their own right, but they won't be considered game changers twenty years from now the way Pulp Fiction is today. Hardly any film of the last couple of decades has had as much impact on the modern film market. It remains the benchmark for independent filmmaking while still managing to retain both a tenacity and a uniqueness that just can't be equaled, especially in the age of fresh ideas vs. marquee value. Despite today's standards and practices, Pulp Fiction remains immaculate.

On the positive end of the spectrum, Miramax has recently handed over the distribution reins of its catalogue to Lionsgate - with terrific results thus far. The video presentation on this particular Blu-ray is absolutely fantastic. It's an extremely clean transfer dripping with every last bit of visual information. To make things even better, Quentin Tarantino himself approved the transfer, so you're getting exactly what the director intended. Colors are warm, blacks are deep & solid while reds, golds and greens literally pop out with amazing clarity. Contrast is also nice and even while the film grain is almost unapparent without any abusive augmentation of the image. Some slight edge enhancement is indeed evident but not enough to make much of a fuss over. The images are so crisp that you can actually see the grooves and stubble on John Travolta's face in greater detail during the "Royale with Cheese" scene, which stood out quite profoundly to me upon my first viewing. For the audio presentation, a new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track has been included and it's just as impressive as the film's video, perhaps even a bit more. Ambience during outdoor scenes (such as when Butch goes back to get his watch) and music cues within the film (Butch's meeting with Marsellus and Al Green playing in the background) give the rear speakers plenty to do. Dialogue is nice and audible, sound effects come bursting to life and Misirilou kicks the film off just as powerfully as ever. While the film pays homages to the exploitation films of the past, it certainly wasn't made to look or sound like them. This is a modern-looking film with a modern soundtrack and it's every bit the home-viewing experience that you could ask for. For those who might need them, there are also subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish.

To append such a healthy presentation is a wonderful set of supplemental material. Unfortunately, there is still no audio commentary from Tarantino, as he has refused to do commentaries on his own work, but there's a nice treasure trove of new and previously-released material to cull through. There's a new 45 minute interview segment with the main cast, a new Critic's Retrospective segment (featuring Tim Lucas and Elvis Mitchell, amongst others), Behind-the-Scenes footage, the Pulp Fiction: The Facts featurette, a Production Design featurette, the Siskel & Ebert At the Movies: The Tarantino Generation segment, the Independent Spirit Awards footage, the Cannes Film Festival footage, The Charlie Rose Show Quentin Tarantino interview, Still Galleries, a Trivia Track and five Deleted Scenes. Missing from Miramax's great Collector's Edition DVD release are the Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Soundtrack Chapter Stops, all of the Reviews and Articles on the film, the cast and crew filmographies and all of the DVD-ROM material which included the original screenplay. The great little Jack Rabbit Slims menu insert hasn't been replicated for this release either. It's unfortunate that a lot of this material wasn't carried over, especially the Trailers and the screenplay, but I suspect some of you will be hanging on to your DVD copies of the film for everything anyway.

And that about sums things up. What more is there to say about Pulp Fiction that hasn't already been said? The film is a masterpiece, modern or otherwise, and continues its legacy not just through its fans but through filmmakers as well. After Pulp Fiction, there's been an endless string of crime dramas that were either trying to be funny or creative and try different things. Some of them have worked and some haven't, but they all owe Pulp Fiction a couple of drinks for making it ok to do so. As for the fans, this Blu-ray release will certainly please most of us and I'm sure it will be spinning in players across the country for years to come. Highly recommended.

Tim Salmons
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