Pulp Fiction Blu-ray Review
This Region B-locked UK release comes with a stunning 1080p/AVC High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The near-20-year old feature has simply never looked better than this and, given that the presentation has been personally supervised and approved by Tarantino himself, it would probably be hard to dispute that this is precisely the way that the director intended this movie to look. Certainly it would appear that a great deal of care and attention has gone into this release, so much so that you have to assume that any minor issues that you might raise against it are probably intentional. After all, if Tarantino has fine-tuned the colour-timing; tweaked the contrast; wiped out the aliasing; retained but evened-out the grain structure and basically checked the image over shot-by-shot, who are we to nitpick with it?
Detail is undeniably impressive: facial observation is at times stunning; fine object detail often impresses – skin texture perhaps even more so – and clothing weave and backgrounds set details allow for a rich authenticity. The colour scheme is broad; the tones have all been rendered in vivid and vibrant fashion (where appropriate, of course, as some of the colours are clearly intended to be muted and faded) and black levels are strong, even if they appear to seep into some scenes more than others – again, we have to assume this is a choice by such a particular director. Honestly, with an image largely free of DNR, edge enhancement and other digital defects, Pulp Fiction looks far from almost 20 years old, so impressive is the video presentation.
Hang on, I hear you asking: why does the image look so hot? Why do the whites sometimes seem overblown? Why is there an orangey sunset feel to some of the scenes? The answer could be a) Tarantino chose it to look precisely this way or b) Lionsgate took his director-approved version and further tweaked it. Honestly, given that it’s Tarantino we’re talking about, I think the former seems more likely – he’s too outspoken to leave it be if somebody messed around with his presentation and put his name to it. But, even if this is a production-company-tweaked-Blu-ray, I don’t personally see the harm. Why? Because it looks superb. If you’re prepared to accept some stylistic choices – whoever made them – it’s the best presentation that this modern classic has ever seen and should please all but the most critical viewers.
On the aural front the accompanying DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is sheer perfection, wonderfully balancing those now-classic song tracks with some eventful effects noises – both large and small – and offering up a track that is equal parts powerful and precise. Dialogue is remarkably variable, from absolute whispers right through to near-deafening shouts, and yet it is never less than clear and coherent; never distorting; and taking precedence over the front and centre channels – right where it should be considering its importance in this ever-quotable feature.
Effects range from incidental environmental sounds; car and traffic noises; and restaurant hubbub through to handgun shots; shotgun blasts; silenced machine pistol bursts and a couple of louder crash noises – each one is given discrete presence across the array, with directionality and movement across the surrounds allowing you to pinpoint exactly where they are coming from in relation to the visuals. The LFE channel pays attention throughout, offering up its services wherever appropriate, lending the track some added weight. Finally that fantastic score has simply never sounded this good – even when you downloaded the CD and it will take over your living room almost as much as it takes over the scenes that it invades. Superb. Reference quality through and through.
Pulp Fiction comes to UK Blu-ray with the same hefty package of extras as the US equivalent release. Although it may have been nice to have a Commentary or Picture-in-Picture Track, all the other boxes are ticked, and we get some nice (relatively new) retrospective Interviews with both all the major contributors and the big film critics, reflecting on this classic.
Enhanced Trivia Track
This PiP track keenly balances pop culture trivia – relating the movie, its cast and its crew to other films and noting key references – and background information into the production itself. Whilst not making up for the lack of Commentary, this track is still worth checking out.
Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat is a 43-minute High Definition Interview collection recorded in 2011 with the main cast and crew, bringing us comments from the likes of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosanna Arquette, Eric Stoltz and Tim Roth, reminiscing on their involvement in the film, how each one got selected, what they brought to the table, and the impact it had on their careers.
Here are Some Facts on the Fiction spends a further 21 HD minutes collecting 2011 roundtable interview comments, this time from several leading film critics discussing the movie’s place in history. Some of them certainly aren’t unabashed in their criticisms of the film, but this is a nice little outsiders’ perspective retrospective.
Siskel & Ebert “At the Movies” – “The Tarantino Generation” has the film critics spend over a quarter of an hour talking about the rise and impact of the filmmaker.
Independent Spirit Awards Footage is an 11 minute segment which features clips from the presentation, including Michael Moore interviewing Tarantino.
Cannes Film Festival Footage has a 5-minute look at Tarantino’s Palme D’Or acceptance speech.
“The Charlie Rose Show” Tarantino Interview runs at almost an hour in length but has some interesting, revealing discussions with the filmmaker himself, and is well worth checking out.
Pulp Fiction: The Facts is a half-hour Making-Of Featurette from around a decade back, which looks into how the project came about, and how they made it happen, with plenty of cast and crew interviews to fill in the gaps.
Production Design Featurette is a brief 6 minute look at the all-important work that the Production Designer and Set Decorator did to make the movie look a great deal more expensive than its budget should have allowed for.
Behind the Scenes Montage focuses on two sections – Jack Rabbit Slim’s and Butch Hits Marsellus – spending just over 5 minutes with each.
Presenting 25 minutes of extra footage – introduced by Tarantino himself – we get a slew of interesting additional and extended sequences, many of which could have arguably been included in an extended version of the movie (of course it’s lean and perfect as it is, so I would never advocate that). There are some great moments, and some lines that clearly became a part of the advertising campaign, so must have come from scenes which were excised at the very last moment.
Marketing Gallery offers up literally dozens of Trailers and TV spots, as well as a Poster Gallery. There’s also a Stills Gallery included to round out the package.
Still one of the coolest films ever made.
Known for its relentlessly quotable dialogue - rich with razor-sharp wit and incessant pop culture references - for its iconic characters and unforgettable shots; and for its stunning blend of striking, unflinching violence, and ironic humour; for its non-linear narrative and the distinctive style pervading throughout, Pulp Fiction ushered in a new era of crime dramas, with endless imitators but no equals, even from Tarantino himself. It is clearly one of the most significant films of all time; one of the all-time greatest.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get excellent video and audio, as well as a near-comprehensive set of extras which should likely keep fans interested for long after the credits have rolled. If you haven't already picked this masterpiece up, then now is the time.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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