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Pulp Fiction has been remastered...

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Pulp Fiction has been remastered...

Old 01-15-00, 01:06 PM
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that is if you live in Region4 or have
a code free dvd player. I wrote about this
before but now I'm really pissed!! Here are
some exerpts from a review at
dvd-200.co.uk

Sadly, when it came to the ultimate in home cinema formats - DVD - Pulp Fiction has suffered unthinkable crimes at the hands of the studios. The poor discs arising from the US and UK markets have upset a vast number of buyers, while a Canadian special edition was spotted a few times, it's picture quality left much to be desired because it was not 16:9 enhanced, and missed out on some extra material. The Australians in Region 4 have, courtesy of their Village Roadshow studio, had more attempts than most. Their most recent effort, and the subject of this feature, is the Remastered Deluxe Collectors Edition.

Video:****

This is always going to be the crux of this feature. The US version of this disc has been utterly lambasted for it's poor picture quality and lack of 16:9 enhancement or extras. Check out The Big Picture's review, which described the picture's "flat-out horrible clarity and definition". The UK disc followed in its Region 1 cousin's footsteps, and again contains an abomination in terms of picture quality. Despite the higher resolution offered by the PAL format, the picture appeared washed out and lacking in detail. To add insult to injury, the disc also appeared stripped of all extra materials and features. The original release by Village Roadshow in Australia received similar reviews of its video quality. However, VR were not satisfied with the reaction to their release, and they sought to remaster the transfer.

This remastered disc carries a 2.35:1 matted anamorphic transfer. The video quality at the very start of the film does not inspire one with confidence. In the diner, the blinds behind Tim Roth and Amander Plummer shimmer gently throughout the scene. There is certainly some type of Moire or anti-aliasing problem in this scene. I never saw Pulp Fiction at the cinema, so I can't judge if this effect is a limitation of the source material.

Fortunately, once the credits have rolled, this anamorphic transfer starts to display its full benefits. Despite a slightly high contrast throughout, the picture is sharp and detailed. Many scenes take place in shadows or dark situations, and the black level is commendable, if not the best around. The colours are clear and vibrant, and Tarantino is skilful in mixing washed out scenes indoors, with bright colours outside. I noticed no digital artifacts at all during the analysis of the picture, and the transfer is rock stable. Whilst the bitrate hovers around a stable 4.7-6mbps throughout the presentation, I would suggest that this is low because of the extra material on the disc and long running time of the film filling a large amount of the RSDL disc. However, the lowish bitrate does not affect the quality of the image, and never drops much lower either.

As for the quality of the source, it was never as good as some of the big-budget modern blockbusters. Given the source, the transfer is excellent. There are no noticeable nicks, scratches or dust, which would be obvious given the detail available

Extras:*****

The disc boots up with almost static menus, but they are tastefully scored with music from the soundtrack. However, just when you think there's no movement at all, Vincent Vega on the chapter selection menu raises his cigarette and takes a drag ! It would be subtle, if his arm didn't look like an advertising hoarding, or a pivoted childs toy. Generally though, the menus are clear, and easy to navigate. The cursor moves on once you've viewed each feature, and moves where you expect when using the controls on the remote. This sounds simple, but many discs make this function more difficult than it needs to be. Navigating this Pulp Fiction disc is a pleasure.

There are no subtitles, and no extra language soundtracks. The disc does, however, carry both a 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack. There is also a track which contains only the isolated music and sound effects. While it is unlikely that anyone would want to spend the whole film with this track only, it provides a truly fascinating insight into the work carried out with background sonics. True fans of Pulp Fiction or students of filmography or film soundtracks will find this a valuable resource. The disc also carries an undocumented fourth audio option, but with my system, it seemed silent. The display states that it is an MPEG soundtrack. Any further information on this would be welcome.

The selection of extras on the disc are excellent. Of great interest to many viewers will be the additional scenes. There are four deleted scenes as follows:

An extended monologue by Eric Stolz while his character is selling the heroin to Vincent Vega.

Mia interviewing Vincent on a Hi-8 video and asking him about his preferences between Elvis and The Beatles amongst other things.

A longer scene between Butch and the cab driver after the fight.

A new scene where Mr Wolf and Raquel flirting at Monster Joes scrap yard.

The beauty of these scenes in my opinion, is that they are each given a reasonably long introduction by Mr Tarantino himself. This gives a superb insight into the mind of the director, and the decision-making involved in the editorial process. Interestingly, Tarantino states that there is no 'Director's Cut' of the film, because he made the film he wanted to from the outset ! Nevertheless, the additional scenes are availble because they have value as good scenes in their own right.

Also available is a five-minute featurette about the making of the film, which - clearly from its length - is not particularly in-depth. It's good to see clips of Tarantino at work behind the scenes. Further, there is a collection of interviews with main cast members, although these only develop further a handful of clips which feature in the featurette. I find the clips a little short, but they're better than nothing. Actual interviews would be preferable.

In addition to these extras, there is a theatrical trailer, a collection of trivia pages about the film and trailers for Region 4 copies of True Romance and Jackie Brown. There are also biographies on the main cast, which are pretty up-to-date and include John Travolta in The Generals Daughter, and The Phantom Menace for Sam Jackson, but not quite recent enough to show The Sixth Sense for Bruce Willis. Finally, included at the start of the film, and unpublicised by most, there is an old-fashioned Dolby Digital train trailer. This is interesting, although it does not demonstrate the system as well as the Cinema trailer at the beginning of the Region 4 issue of The Matrix.

The layer-change occurs at 104m 44s as Butch leaves the store, and on my Pioneer 515 was unobtrusive and well placed in a scene change.

Audio:****

Although Pulp Fiction does not offer a full workout to a modern sound system, the audio is generally excellent. The speech which is so important with Tarantino films is reproduced faithfully and locked to the centre speaker with only minor spread to the main fronts. The clarity of the speech is important, as Tarantinos characters speak very quickly, and what they say is typically important to enjoying the film. I'm glad to say that hearing the speech clearly is never a problem. The music is a joy, and the soundstage uses an ambiant rear well. There's not much for the .1 channel to do except with the gunshots, and there's a lot of those ! Despite that surround only enjoys minimal use fro environmental effects, the audio is handled extremely well, and impresses without being too obvious.

Overall:*****

There is no doubt, this is a five-star disc. It stands out as a top choice, even before the other options are considered. While the US has a low resolution, [non-anamorphic] picture, the UK has a dreadful print stripped of all extras. This Region 4 offering however is packed with interesting extras, has a good transfer and excellent sound. It's by far the best representation of Pulp Fiction available, and viewed in isolation, is an enjoyable experience that few would be disappointed with.
Old 01-16-00, 04:35 AM
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Dammit..i hate when people get me all excited w/ the subject then throw the curveball in the actual thread which basically translates to this won't affect you in the slightest

[This message has been edited by Jamezuva (edited January 16, 2000).]
Old 01-17-00, 08:51 PM
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Well, I'm a sucker. I'd like to get it 'cause I'm a huge Pulp Fiction fan. Although, I hated it the first time I saw it.

Which online store offers this version? Also, are there any NTSC/PAL issues I should know about?

Shux...Gotta get me a region free chip too.

-TAco

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