Blu-ray Disc review by Tim Salmons of The Digital Bits
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
While Pulp Fiction may be Quentin Tarantino's best film, at least in my opinion, I've always felt that his most interesting piece of material has always been Jackie Brown. It's probably my favorite of all of the films that he's made and one that I'm happy to revisit again and again.
|What makes the film so interesting is the fact that it didn't come directly from Tarantino himself. To date it's the only piece of material that Tarantino has ever adapted for the big screen, which in itself is interesting. Elmore Leonard's "Rum Punch" was the basis for Jackie Brown, carrying over most of the story material while changing most of the characters in one way or another. The combination of these two men as the backbone of a project like this makes for one notoriously entertaining piece of cinema. While the writing is very strong, so is the film's cast; a combination of the Roger Corman all-stars and the Tarantino generation in a much more overt exploitation-type film than the one seen in Pulp Fiction. Getting to see Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Chris Tucker and Sid Haig all together in a film is just pure cinematic cocaine. While it isn't as highly thought of as Tarantino's other work, Jackie Brown was very much a financial success and gave the careers of both Grier and Forster an incredible boost and also a new awareness of them. Smooth, slick and enjoyable, Jackie Brown gets you stuck in and doesn't let you go until you've been thoroughly played.
Like Pulp Fiction, Lionsgate has gone to Tarantino himself for his approval on the transfer contained herein... and once again, the results are spectacular. There's a very well-defined and crisp picture here with a nice smooth level of film grain and very few impurities. Colors are very robust, especially during the film's opening title graphics and the ever-changing wardrobe of the main cast. Skin tones look very natural, particularly with Robert Forster's weathered features. It also has a high use of shadows with blacks that run very deep. There's been some slight cropping on the top and bottom of the frame but not nearly enough to get worked up about. Some random softness pops up from time to time but it most likely stems from how it was shot and isn't something that can be fixed. There's also been some very light edge enhancement, but again, not enough for complaint. Overall, it's a gorgeous picture that feels lived in and warm with the most minor of flaws. The audio track on this release is also great and just a notch better than the video. A brand new English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track was created for this release and it's extremely aggressive. The eclectic soundtrack, the ambience, the sound effects and the dialogue all work well together and encompass the entire surround set-up marvelously. There are also some great bass-thumping moments with the LFE portions that really put your system to work. To say the least, the soundtrack has plenty of dynamic range and sonic fidelity. There are also subtitles in English, English SDH and Spanish for those who might need them.
In the supplemental department, there's a nice range of material to dig through: the new Breaking Down Jackie Brown critic featurette (again with Tim Lucas, Elvis Mitchell and others), the Jackie Brown: How it Went Down Retrospective, the A Look Back at Jackie Brown interview with Quentin Tarantino, the full Chicks with Guns video, the Siskel & Ebert At the Movies - Jackie Brown review, the Jackie Brown on MTV segment, the Marketing Gallery, Still Galleries, a Trivia Track, and some Deleted and Alternate Scenes. Like the Pulp Fiction Blu-ray release, there's also some material that didn't make it onto this release that appeared on the Miramax Collector's Edition DVD. On that release there were some Quentin Tarantino Introductions, a set of Pam Grier Movie Trailers, a set of Robert Forster Movie Trailers, a set of Pam Grier Movie Radio Spots, the film's Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Reviews & Articles and DVD-ROM material that included an Enhanced Playback Track, a Trivia Game and a Screenplay Viewer. So again, if you own that DVD and were considering upgrading, I would definitely do so but hang on to your DVD set if you want the missing extras.
I know I'm in the minority about Jackie Brown being my favorite film of Tarantino's, but that just makes the film more special to me in a way. Being such an amalgam of style and story, the film is quite unlike anything Tarantino has done before or since, and that's something to celebrate. The mixture of both Elmore Leonard and Tarantino is just too good a thing to pass up, and so is this Blu-ray release. It may not be perfect, but the quality put into it plus the price tag ($10 as of this writing) make it a fantastic deal and worth your hard-earned bucks. Highly recommended.