Dir: Quentin Tarantino
I don’t know that I can really give an unbiased review of this Blu-ray release. Pulp Fiction is one of my absolute favorite films of all time, partially because Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino burst onto the scene at almost exactly the same time I started taking my own writing seriously.
I was working in a video store when Reservoir Dogs was released and after hearing the buzz I took it home, watched it, freaked out, and immediately watched it again. True Romance was my next exposure to Tarantino’s scripting and I was just as in love with it as I was with Reservoir Dogs.
By the time Pulp Fiction hit theaters in 1994, I was back in school getting my English degree and writing stories all the time. And I’m not embarrassed to say my dialogue and plotting was heavily influenced by Tarantino. Still is, in some ways.
As much as I loved each of his previous works, Pulp Fiction was a game-changer. The film was made for eight million dollars and made more than that its opening weekend before going on to gross over 210 million worldwide. And this was one of those rare cases where the financial success coincided with critical praise and technical brilliance.
While I can vaguely understand how someone might not care for the subject matter (crime, drug use), the violence (though it’s mostly off-screen), the language (it’s pretty raw at times), or even the way Tarantino jumbles the narrative (despite the fact that most of the film is chronological, except for the opening and closing segments), I really can’t understand anyone who loves film not loving Pulp Fiction.
The performances, every single one of them, are superb. There’s a reason John Travolta’s career was rejuvenated thanks to this film. His portrayal of Vincent Vega is dripping with a heroin glaze and his banter with Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield is the source of countless quotable exchanges. Their relationship is so natural and casual that as their conversations move from Vincent’s time in Amsterdam, to the gender politics of the foot massage, to whether or not they have experienced Divine Intervention, there is never a false note.
And when you take the performances of Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Eric Stoltz, Ving Rhames, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Rosanna Arquette, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Walken into consideration, there’s just no denying how amazing this film is.
Tarantino has exquisitely structured every scene and masterfully framed each shot. I honestly can’t find a single thing to complain about with this work. Whether we’re talking about Mia discovering the heroin in Vincent’s coat pocket and mistaking it for coke, or Mr. Wolf instructing Jules and Vincent on how to clean the brains out of the backseat of their car, or Jules talking down Pumpkin and Honey Bunny during their ill-advised restaurant robbery, it all works.
Plus, the Blu-ray transfer was supervised and approved by Tarantino himself and I honestly can’t imagine a better-looking version of the film. The level of detail is dumbfounding. At times it’s hard to keep from being distracted by the background elements (at Jackrabbit Slim’s especially) and there’s never any reason to lunge for the remote to adjust the volume.
It’s a damn near perfect film experience. Even at around two and a half hours.
In 2002 a 2-disc Collector’s Edition of Pulp Fiction loaded with extras was released, and until now that was your best overall package. Well, that’s no longer the case. The Blu-ray not only has all of the extras included (plus a couple of new additions), but is such a significant upgrade in visual and sound quality that it would be criminal not to replace your DVD versions.
Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat: This is the best of the two new features included here. It’s a substantial collection of new interviews with most of the cast, discussing their experiences getting their roles and during filming. There are quite a few nice little bits of info here, and Travolta is particularly interesting as he discusses his first meeting with Tarantino.
Here are Some Facts on the Fiction: This roundtable discussion of the film by Elvis Mitchell, Scott Foundas, Stephanie Zacharek, Tim Lucs, and Andy Klein is interesting, but doesn’t really add much to the whole package. Mostly it’s a forum for the men to gush about how much they love Pulp Fiction and for Zacharek to assert that she’s not really a fan.
The rest of the extras were available on the 2-disc Collector’s Edition DVD release from 2002.
Pulp Fiction: The Facts: This is an informative feature with interviews and behind-the-scenes access from the time of filming. Tarantino doesn’t take part in the new interviews but is all over this extra.
Deleted Scenes: As he explains in his introductions to each of these clips, the film is his director’s cut and these scenes are just things that had to be removed, not for quality issues, but because they affected the timing. The scenes are good, but I have to agree with Tarantino. They aren’t really missed from the final cut.
Siskel & Ebert At the Movies: The Tarantino Generation: This is an entire episode of the classic review show dedicated to Tarantino and his first two works. While neither Siskel nor Ebert cared entirely for Reservoir Dogs, they are both emphatically impressed with Pulp Fiction; so much so that they made this special episode to discuss how important the film is to American filmmaking.
Charlie Rose Show: This is a very in-depth one-on-one interview with a very young Tarantino. The great thing about this is getting the chance to see and realize that the man just hasn’t changed. He spoke with the same authority and range of film knowledge then as an upstart director as he does today as a Hollywood veteran.
Independent Spirit Awards: A short interview with Tarantino by filmmaker Michael Moore.
Overall, these special features, along with the other things like the Palm D’Or acceptance speech, the trivia tracks, and the marketing gallery make this as much a must-have disc as the 2002 Collector’s Edition was in its day.
But if you’re still having doubts about upgrading, I cannot stress enough how much better the picture and sound quality is. The Blu-ray experience doesn’t get much better than this.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel,The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, a
nd Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.