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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/5/00

Pulp Fiction
1994 (1998) - Miramax (Buena Vista)

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Pulp Fiction Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/F

Specs and Features

154 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:20:15, in chapter 15), Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens with animation and sound, scene access (27 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"I’m trying, Ringo… I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd."

Pulp Fiction is more than a movie - it’s an experience. This is a film that took the world by storm, and made a talented young writer/director named Quentin Tarantino a household name. The screenplay is so riveting. The acting is so fluid. The characters are so hip, that this film overflows with style.

Pulp Fiction follows the lives of several interesting and unusual characters. Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) are two hitmen who enjoy philosophizing about society. They work for Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), a very notorious and connected criminal operating in Southern California. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is Marsellus’ wildcat of a wife that enjoys nights out at theme restaurants and… ahem… "powdering" her nose. And Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is a struggling boxer who likes to take big chances, all for a small family heirloom.

Told in three crossing vignettes, Pulp Fiction works like this: Jules and Vincent are on an assignment from Marsellus to recover a briefcase containing an item of incredible value to Marsellus. This turns into quite an adventure for the pair, when they inadvertently decapitate a friend and happen into a coffee shop robbery. Later in the story, Vincent is asked by Marsellus to accompany and entertain Mia while Marsellus is out of town. Vincent accepts reluctantly, because he’s not sure if he trusts himself around the wife of his boss. The plot thickens when Mia helps herself to Vincent’s stash of drugs and begins to overdose. After this chain of events, the story focuses on Butch the boxer. Butch is favored to win the last fight of his career, but he agrees to throw the fight in order for Marsellus to make a fortune by gambling against the odds. And when Butch decides to betray Marsellus, he is on the run for his life from Marsellus’ vengeance (and Vincent, acting as the force behind said vengeance).

This barely scratches the surface of Pulp Fiction. The brilliance of this film lies in the way the stories are told and how they mesh. As the movie progresses, the audience begins to realize how the lives of these people interrelate. Pulp Fiction is edited out of continuity, and this really keeps the audience interest piqued. The stories unfold like anecdotes being told by one of your buddies - they are informal and full of action. The script is wonderfully fresh, with plenty of witty interplay between characters, and dialog is shot back and forth with precision. The performances are stylish and the stories pull you in, keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The non-anamorphic 2.35:1 picture is actually pretty bold in spots with smooth, natural colors. A trained eye will notice some oversaturation, plugged-up contrasts (very evident in the opening diner scene) and bits of NTSC noise (in items like the venetian blinds at the coffee shop), as well as minor amounts of compression artifacting (evident in the background of extreme close-ups). Still, for an early Disney disc this is all pretty forgivable. The casual viewer won't be bothered by this transfer, because most of it isn't very distracting at all. However, I do think that Pulp Fiction really should be re-done with a nice solid anamorphic transfer (like the European version overseen by Miramax) and hopefully we'll se a reissue in the near future. On the plus side, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is very nicely presented. Ambient sound effects are subtle, but noticeable, and the fidelity of the audio is very natural. The soundtrack sometimes has a mono presence, but never enough to really detract from the whole experience. Dialog is easily intelligible, and the music is effectively spread throughout the listening environment.

Why, oh why did Buena Vista not include any supplements on this DVD? The theatrical trailer is not even included here! With the massive amounts of accolades and major awards this film received, it boggles the mind that Buena Vista did not decide to treat this DVD with the highest degree of respect. Adding insult to injury, there was a VHS edition of Pulp Fiction (released in 1995) containing deleted scenes and an interview with writer/director Quentin Tarantino. It would have been easy for Buena Vista to at least include these already available features on the DVD, but instead they decided to disappoint the fans of this film. For shame! Let's hope that when they eventually revisit this film, it's as a DVD special edition.

Pulp Fiction is an incredible flick, brimming with style and expert storytelling. While the DVD is a complete disappointment with respect to supplemental material, the audio and video presentation are pretty good for what they are. Any cinema enthusiast must make it a priority to see this film, and the DVD is the best way to go. Now, rush out and see this film, before we go medieval on your ass.

Greg Suarez
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