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November 10, 2009
Pulp Fiction Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
24/11/19945/11/2009Village RoadshowQuentin Tarantino
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1R18+John Travolta

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Uma Thurman has Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.
Following the critical and somewhat commercial success of Reservoir Dogs Quentin Tarantino movie to another fairly low-budget movie (around $US8 million), but he managed to get a list of Hollywood actors to work for minimal wage, and in doing so has created one of the most unique, interesting and entertaining movies of the 20th Century - and one which currently stands as the fifth highest rated movie of all time according to IMDB.

Follow the action-packed adventures and misadventures of two hitmen, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) as they recover their boss' secret briefcase from some punks in a business deal gone bad, track down the boxer (Bruce Willis) who fixed a big money fight, take the boss' wife (Uma Thurman) out on a date that will not be soon forgotten, and almost become victims themselves of a holdup while having breakfast at the local coffee shop.

For me Pulp Fiction is a classic, perfect, dramatic thriller. Smartly written and with classic Tarantino style lengthy dialogue sequences (who can ever forget hitmen Vincent and Jules' discussion about a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and the European naming on their way to a job) it is the movie that defined a generation in so many ways. It's amazing to think that Tristar turned the script for this movie down citing the complexity with people killed later coming back into the film, having a Heroin junkie as a lead character, and that it was too long and violent. Ohh, how the studio would love to change that decision now!

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Nice injecting on Pulp Fiction Blu-Ray.
Acting across the board is superb. As we are all well aware the movie revived John Travolta's flagging career whose six previous movies had included three Look Who's Talking efforts, while Bruce Willis put in another solid performance, Ving Rhames had his real breakout role, Uma Thurman became a household name and Samuel L. Jackson continued on his path to most prolific actor in Hollywood.

One of the most interesting and exciting aspects to this movie is the music. There is no composed music for the movie, but rather Tarantino has used a wide range of songs from artists including Dusty Springfield, Urge Overkill, Kool & The Gang and Ricky Nelson. If they don't sound familiar, you'll probably be more familiar when you hear the music throughout the film. So perfect.

Pulp Fiction is a brilliant movie with superb cast, direction, and script. If you haven't seen this, what are you waiting for. Your only reason for not having seen this is a disliking for drugs, sex, violence and swearing. OK, so it deserves it's R18+ rating, but if that isn't an issue then this is quite special.

Pulp Fiction is presented in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. There's no denying that this release is a lot sharper then the DVD release with better colour reproduction, and more detail to the image no doubt in part due to the high bitrate given to the picture which often hovers well above 30Mbps. Have a look at the close-up of Samuel L. Jackson at 17:58 with every hair on his hard and skin pore on his cheeks evident. That's only one tiny example, of course this level of sharpness is evident through the entire picture. Making this even more impressive is the fact that the majority of the film takes place in indoor, and often fairly dark locations.

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The Pulp Fiction diner opening.
There are certainly some issues with this transfer. There is quite evident telecine wobble at the beginning of the movie, when Vincent and Mia arrive at the Jack Rabbit Slims and are sitting in the car there is some very evident white marks on the film, but these are present in several scenes in the movie. There is also some pretty nasty, and visible shaking of the image at 1:19:13 for a few seconds when Butch is lying in the bed sleeping before waking up startled.

When Pulp Fiction came to DVD as the 2-disc Collector's Edition it was presented with a 768kbps DTS 5.1 audio track, and it was a fine effort. This Blu-Ray though goes a little further and offers a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz). I have always admired the choice and range of music in this film (so much so that I remember buying the CD right after seeing this movie in theatres) and the extra data here allows the soundtrack to shine. Dialogue is clear, but a little flat in some scenes. Still, overall this is a very impressive audio effort.

The disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track encoded at 448kbps. Given that it runs at less then a quarter the bitrate of the lossless track it's not surprising to understand that the audio on this track isn't as clear and refined as the DTS-HD track. Actually it's a little disappointing that this track is included - it's not even up to the audio on the DVD release. But still, most of you will be listening to the lossless track. Pulp Fiction on Blu-Ray also includes a stereo Audio Descriptive track encoded at 224kbps.

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John Travolta shows us his dance moves.
As for subtitles there is only one track for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles are positioned on the screen according tot he character talking, a feature which some will find annoying due to different placement on the screen, but we quite like it. At times we found the subtitles a fraction behind the dialogue on-screen.

Unlike the European release of Pulp Fiction on Blu-Ray which lacks extras the Australian version has quite a few, although they are ported from the 2-disc DVD set. I really would have liked to see more features about the making of this movie, and in HD if possible, but given that it was a budget movie the lack of content is understandable.

Pulp Fiction: The Facts (30:31): This is a pretty interesting documentary which looks at Quentin Tarantino's move into the industry and the making of Pulp Fiction with interviews with the majority of the cast and crew from on the set while filming to interviews up to a decade or so later.

Tarantino Introduces Deleted Scenes (24:32): Five deleted scenes are presented here with some pretty lengthy, and interesting, introductions from Tarantino. The scenes themselves are pretty interesting and worth a look. Sadly as with all the extras, the quality is pretty poor with the video presented in 4:3 and then the widescreen deleted scenes as a small window in the center of the screen.

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Samuel L. Jackson as Jules... classic.
The Charlie Rose Show, With Quentin Tarantino (55:26): Even Australians would be aware of Charlie Rose, certainly when you see him, and this near hour long interview gives a fascinating insight into the life of Quentin Tarantino (up until the release of Pulp Fiction of course). There are some great questions and responses and if you want to get a good insight into this fascinating director this is a great place to start.

Siskel And Ebert The Tarantino Generation (16:00): Two of America's biggest movie critics discuss the merits of Pulp Fiction and second-time director Quentin Tarantino. It's and interesting piece worth a look.

Production Designer Featurette (6:22): This featurette looks at the production design for this budget movie and the various locations around L.A. for filming.

Behind the Scenes Montages (10:48): A series of on-set "fly on the wall" styled footage with a few brief interviews throughout.

Interview From The Independent Spirit Awards (11:29): This is a pretty entertaining interview on the backstage at the Independent Spirit Awards. There's quite a bit of mucking around, and quite a bit of fun.

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Eating the Big Kahuna burger.
Palme d'Or Acceptance Speech (5:29): The acceptance speech for the Pulp Fiction win at the Cannes Film Festival.

Trailers (6:18): Pulp Fiction (2:35), Jackie Brown (1:22), True Romance (2:21). Pretty horrendous transfers (it looks like they've come from VHS tapes!).

Pulp Fiction has its fans and its critics, but it's a movie that I absolutely love. This Blu-Ray is certainly the best the movie has ever looked or sounded at home, with all the extras ported from the DVD release too. This is a disc that movie fans should add to their collection today.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.