Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Quentin Tarantino Collection (Blu-ray)

Quentin Tarantino Collection (Blu-ray)

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Released 1-Dec-2011

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Overall Package

     The Quentin Tarantino Collection gathers together on Blu-ray the seven feature films (or 6 if you, like Tarantino, consider Kill Bill 1 and 2 as a single film) directed by this maverick film director. For the first time they can be bought as a complete set with a price point of around $95. This means an individual cost of about $13 a film which is pretty good value.

     It is important for potential purchasers to understand that this is a collection and not in any way a special edition. It contains nothing new from the previous Blu-ray releases. This set is clearly targeted at those fans of Tarantino who have either recently purchased a Blu-ray player or want to buy his movies in one fell swoop. It only gathers together the feature films. Therefore Tarantino's contribution to Four Rooms and his other acting and/or script writing efforts (True Romance, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk Till Dawn) are not included.

     For the cinephile, watching the entire set provides an opportunity to assess the filmmaker for his overall contribution to the art. He has already received overwhelming public support for his films with Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds both being an enormous successes at the box office. Death Proof and the whole grindhouse experiment may have been a comparative failure but there are few directors who can match him for box office security. So too he has received great critical acclaim. Pulp Fiction won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and it and Inglourious Basterds were lavished with Academy Award nominations-even though Pulp Fiction came home with only one, for scriptwriting, and Basterds won also for the stellar supporting performance of Christoph Waltz.

     Although there is no doubt that Tarantino can put together some well-directed movies and that his films have changed our approach to on-screen violence, the fact is that Tarantino is first and foremost a script writer. It is true that people might remember the most startling moments from his films, usually the violence, such as the ear slicing scene from Reservoir Dogs, the needle in Pulp Fiction and the baseball bat and forehead carving from Inglourious Basterds. Yet, taken as a whole, the films are perhaps at their best in the dialogue, in Tarantino's ability to take ordinary situations and dialogue and fill them with equal parts of humour and menace. Who can forget the Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta routine about hamburgers on the way to execute some errant drug dealers, or the verbal interplay between Pam Grier and Jackson in Jackie Brown. More recently a couple of stunning set pieces in Inglourious Basterds-where Waltz interviews the farm owner at the beginning of the film, where he shares tea and scones with an escaped Jewess and where all hell goes down in the pub basement after a game of celebrity heads.

     As sets go this is a great collection of films. The individual reviews highlight the merits and flaws of each Blu-ray. The albatross around the neck of this set is, of course, Pulp Fiction which is inexplicably in a 1080i format rather than the 1080p standard for Blu-ray. This omission may never be explained and for some will be a deal breaker. Others who are more interested in the movies rather than the finest degree of visual presentation may not care so much. With the obvious caveat the set comes highly recommended

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992)

Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992)

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Released 6-Aug-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Playing It Fast and Loose
Featurette-Profiling the Dogs
Trivia-Pulp Factoids
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 100:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor
LIVE America Inc.
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Harvey Keitel
Tim Roth
Michael Madsen
Chris Penn
Steve Buscemi
Lawrence Tierney
Steven Wright
Case ?
RPI ? Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD High Resolution Audio 6.1 ES Discrete
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (640Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Spanish
Smoking Yes, Lots of it!
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It is now 20 years since Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was released to an unprepared public and overnight changed the film landscape. Quentin Tarantino went from the video store clerk to the hottest property in indie cinema in the blink of an eye. It began his long association with Harvey Weinstein and Miramax which, depending upon the way you look at it, was either the saviour or death knell of independent moviemaking.

     The creation of Reservoir Dogs has become the stuff of myths and legends. In his book Quentin Tarantino-the Man, the Myth and his Movies writer Wensley Clarkson seeks to dispel the perception that Tarantino was some geeky kid who knocked out a movie on the cheap which made him a megastar. In truth, the Tarantino in his book is the same video store clerk who spend his spare hours watching lots of good movies, as well as the bad ones, which would come to influence his style. However, the story of the making of the film is one of continual joy and heartbreak with the project struggling to make it off the ground. Quentin's singular vision and a reluctance to compromise made it harder for the film to progress through ordinary channels but the support of a group of believers including producer friend Lawrence Bender, actor Harvey Keitel and maverick director Monte Hellman allowed the script, all of expletives and pop culture references, to continue to generate heat.

     What is undeniable is that the film made Quentin a legend with his first release, putting in the shade the long path towards success that greeted similar mavericks Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. Not for Quentin the progression of short films, odd indie flicks and little-seen debuts. This film led straight to Pulp Fiction, and the rest is history. It also cannot be ignored that Robert Redford and his Sundance Festival had a role to play, not just at the script workshop stage. It was probably the controversy which saw the film premiere to equal measures of cheers and disgust at the festival which ultimately helped it on its way. It became the buzz movie of 1992. Sundance, which had traditionally hosted and supported the films of independent filmmakers of a gentler kind, was criticised as selling out for allowing this dark and dirty picture the screen.

     Now, some 20 years later it is still possible to see what the fuss was about. The rat-a-tat dialogue which would become trademark Tarantino is very much in evidence and very sharp. The blood and violence can still shock and the torture scene is still quease inducing mainly because it is not in a horror film. Some of the pop culture references may have fallen out of vogue. The opening Like a Virgin dialogue seems a little quaint (although the Material Girl is still around) and if Tarantino was writing it today no doubt Lady Gaga or Katy Perry would be the references. Also, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the identifiable Tarantino trademarks seen heavy footed. As one of the commentators says, in a featurette which accompanies this Blu-ray, watching the film today is to experience a number of clichés only to be struck by the realisation that Quentin invented them.

     ...or stole them, depending on your point of view. Much has been written in the past about Tarantino's tendency to borrow from other films. He openly acknowledges Stanley Kubrick's The Killing as an influence, particularly as to the fractured narrative, however equally eager B-movie and world movie cinefiles took Quentin to task over the similarities between the film and the Chow Yun Fat gangster movie City of Fire. Some saw this as evidence that Tarantino was no great talent but merely an imitator of other talents. Others saw in him the ultimate modern filmmaker capable of appropriating, riffing on an improving existing sources.

     The plot of Reservoir Dogs is well known and largely irrelevant. Tarantino introduces us to a group of cool looking criminals sitting in a diner talking about Madonna. They are mostly identified only by their colours. Pink (Steve Buscemi), White (Keitel), Brown (Tarantino), Blonde (Michael Madsen), Blue (Eddie Bunker) and Orange (Tim Roth). Meanwhile associates like Nice Guy Eddie(Chris Penn) and the mastermind Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) bicker and banter.

     The movie is audacious in confounding expectations. The set-up is largely a discussion of irrelevancies followed by the chaos of the aftermath of the successful/unsuccessful robbery. They got away with the diamonds and are holed up in a warehouse, avoiding the cops. So good so far but plenty of people, civilians and cops got shot. Some of their number also bit the bullet. The only questions remaining are twofold-who ratted out the gang and how the hell do they get out of there?

     Reservoir Dogs was released on Blu-ray in 2008 but this copy was provided for review as part of the comprehensive Quentin Tarantino Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Reservoir Dogs comes to Blu-ray in the original cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film had its release on DVD in this Region in the correct ratio so the Blu-ray doesn't seek to right any past wrongs.

     This is the best the film has looked and perhaps will ever look. That said, it is still a transfer of a low budget film and looks every inch a movie made on the cheap. The colours are pretty washed out with the exception of the very scarlet blood that is splashed everywhere.

     The transfer is the same as the US Region A release in that it uses the MPEG-2 codec. It is considered old technology but in the right hands can compete with MPEG-4. This is a decent transfer which fits on to a BD-25. Fans that already have the original release, which dates back to 2008, should be aware that by buying this film as part of the Quentin Tarantino Collection that it is not a remaster or new release.

     The film is clean and clear of all but the most minor artefacts. The flesh tones are pretty accurate and the colours, though anything but vivid, are stable. It has the grain level consistent with the original release.

     There are subtitles in English and Spanish. The subtitles are an accurate reflection of the spoken word.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Reservoir Dogs carries two English language soundtracks. One is a Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 running at 640 Kb/s and the prime track is a DTS-HD 6.1 which runs at 3039 Kb/s.

     Any High Definition track is welcome. Fans may have preferred a lossless DTS HD Master Audio track but it is questionable whether it makes a difference in this case. The film sounds at its prime with the DTS track. It is still not, however, an aural playground. The film was shot and recorded on the cheap, with overlapping dialogue and music.

     There isn't really much for the surrounds and the sub-woofer to accomplish. It wouldn't be Tarantino without a killer music track and Reservoir Dogs became the first film I can recall to take forgotten songs, often daggy ones like Stuck in the Middle With You and give them a new cool. The songs sound like the era and have not been digitally scrubbed to within an inch of their lives for sonic precision.

     All in all an appropriate sonic presentation.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Reservoir Dogs was released on DVD in a 2 DVD Collector's Edition which was stuffed with extras. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the Blu-ray edition has a paucity of extra materials. Maybe it was felt that true fans would have already picked up the Collector's Edition and therefore the repetition of extras was redundant... or maybe they couldn't be bothered.

     The Collector’s Edition had the following extras:

  1. Original Interviews - Cast and Crew
  2. Critics Commentaries
  3. K-Billy Radio
  4. Class of '92
  5. Sundance Filmmaker's Lab (11:34)
  6. Tributes & Dedications
  7. The Film Noir Web
  8. The Noir Files (Text)
  9. Dave's Handy Pocket Guide to the Big Three - more text.
  10. How To Handle a Gun - even more text
  11. Small Dogs
  12. Securing the Shot
  13. Reservoir Dogs Style Guide
  14. Poster Gallery
  15. Deleted Scenes
  16. Audio Commentary by writer/director Quentin Tarantino, producers Lawrence Bender and Monte Hellman, editor Sally Menke, DOP Andrzej Sekula, and four of the actors.

     What is there to be found on this Blu-ray?

Deleted Scenes

     The same deleted scenes from the DVD including two versions of the ear slicing scene, including one with the dodgy prosthetic ear that kept falling off in the heat! These scenes are raw like sushi and would not have been out of place in the Grindhouse films.

Profiling the Reservoir Dogs

     A pretty dodgy attempt to psychoanalyse each of the dogs by looking at their imagined life histories and identifying their personality traits. Missable.

Playing It Fast and Loose

     A gathering of "experts" debate the significance of the film. There are some interesting moments to be had but altogether the piece feels lightweight.

Pulp Factoids

     A trivia track which pops up throughout the film with titbits of information. I sampled this for a while and found it mildly interesting but has anyone actually watched a movie through with the trivia track on?

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This is the same as the Region A Blu-ray release.

Summary

     Reservoir Dogs is a burnout mark in the history of modern cinema - a point where the cinematic rubber hit the road and the pulp of the seventies became recreated as cool and creditworthy.

     This film is down and dirty and the Blu-ray vastly improves the DVD look without destroying the gritty aesthetic.

     The extras are pretty limp though.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
U.K Lionsgate Blu-Ray - Nik

Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994)

Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994)

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Released 5-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Jackie Brown, True Romance
Featurette-Pulp Fiction: The Facts
Deleted Scenes-5, Introduced By Quentin Tarantino
Featurette-The Charlie Rose Show, With Quentin Tarantino
Featurette-Siskel And Ebert - Pulp Faction: The Tarantino Generation
Featurette-Production Design
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Montage
Featurette-Interview Footage From Independent Spirit Awards
Featurette-Palme d'Or Acceptance Speech
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 148:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring John Travolta
Samuel L. Jackson
Uma Thurman
Harvey Keitel
Tim Roth
Amanda Plummer
Maria De Medeiros
Ving Rhames
Eric Stoltz
Rosanna Arquette
Christopher Walken
Bruce Willis
Case ?
RPI ? Music Karyn Rachtman
Neil Diamond
Chuck Berry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     What is there to say, now, after all these years, about Pulp Fiction? After all, the film has stood as a cornerstone of modern cinema since its release to critical acclaim and box office success in 1994. It took Quentin Tarantino from a up-and-coming director to a household name in record time.

     This review of Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray forms part of the seven disc set - The Quentin Tarantino Collection. It is simply a bundling of the previous release as the transfer section of the review will elaborate. Those slavish disciples of Tarantino will already have this Blu-ray in their collection or, more likely, one from another Region, but those "new to Blu" will find the lure of the comprehensive box set compelling. So, back to Pulp Fiction.

     In one of the several extras which accompanies this release critic Roger Ebert, looking considerably younger and healthier than today, struggles with his own analysis of the film pointing out that it had been the subject of more critical analysis than the dead Sea Scrolls! Pulp Fiction was a high watermark for the success of independent moviemaking and ironically, some feel, the first seed of its downfall. Peter Bisskind, in his analysis of Miramax, Sundance and the rise of independent film-Down and Dirty Pictures describes Pulp Fiction as the "Star Wars of the independents" but also questions its legacy. At that time, perhaps as now, stars would act in independent pictures through a love of the craft at a fraction of the ordinary pay rates. When Pulp Fiction turned a meagre budget into a smash hit investors suddenly wanted to be involved in independent cinema and actors and crew realised that they could start dictating the price. Reading Bisskind's book, which focuses on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction is like watching the creation of two monsters, Tarantino and the Dark Lord of the independents, Harvey Weinstein. Tarantino continued to direct great films but none would have the pop culture impact of Pulp Fiction.

     They say there is nothing new under the sun. So too there was nothing new in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino, however, had gathered the strengths of his Reservoir Dogs script, particularly the blend of humour and violence, and let it loose in a sprawling epic which owed a debt to two key factors-Tarantino's desire to upend the applecart of cinema as well as his magpie-like gathering of disparate sources. Anyone making a modern crime drama would have to acknowledge the influence of Film Noir and perhaps the great French directors like Godard and Melville. Tarantino took not only from these sources but also the relatively unknown Hong Kong action flicks. The result is fresh and original and always engaging.

     For those who haven't seen Pulp Fiction - shame on you! The film is a collection of stories, like Raymond Carver snippets of American life, all gathered together in a jumbled whole. Tarantino's most audacious step with the film is to mix up the narrative structure, demanding attention on the part of the viewer. Major characters in one story become mere people in the background for much of another, and characters appear to come back from the dead. Rather than describing the fractured plot, below are the characters in the film : Honey Bunny and Pumpkin (Amanda Palmer and Tim Roth) are small-time hoods having breakfast at a diner. Tired of the dangers of robbing liquor stores Pumpkin suggests they rob the diner. Drawing pistols they go for it… Vincent Vega and Jules (John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson) are a pair of enforcers in the employ of local gangster boss Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). They are on the trail of a missing suitcase misappropriated by some young and very foolish drug dealers. Butch and Patrice (Bruce Willis and Maria di Medeiros) are on the run after Butch double crosses his boss, Marcellus Wallace, by failing to go down in a fixed fight, and has escaped with the money. What he doesn't have, however, is his precious watch, passed down through his generations of family.

     When Marcellus is out of town he asks Vincent to look after his wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman). This is a job with a risk as previous caretakers have suffered greatly when taking too many liberties with Mrs Wallace. The evening starts well but quickly deteriorates into a life-threatening situation for all involved. Meanwhile a hiccup has occurred when Vince and Jules collected the suitcase, necessitating the involvement of legendary clean-up man Mr Wolf (Harvey Keitel.

     How these stories intersect is sometimes a thing of wonder. One of the joys of Pulp Fiction is that it allowed a geeky video store clerk to go wild with his imagination and ability to generate witty dialogue to create something that has many imitators but no equals. Not only was it a cultural phenomenon but it turned a conservative budget into a mega-smash leaving Weinstein to describe Miramax as the "house that Quentin built"! The film belongs in every Blu-ray collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Pulp Fiction is presented on Blu-ray at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is consistent with the original theatrical release. It is also consistent with the previous releases of the film on DVD.

     Pulp Fiction has not had the greatest history on home video formats. It is not for want of a chance. The film has had more releases than Lindsay Lohan. A standard edition was released in 1998 followed by a Special Collectors (Remastered) Edition in October 1999. Commemorative versions were issued for the 10th Anniversary. The DVD releases were reviewed twice by our own Michael D and both times were found wanting. He found the transfer of the first DVD release to be extremely poor, with artefacts and aliasing, dodgy telecine as well as questionable anamorphic enhancement. Still, he noted that the quality was apparently also poor across all regions of DVD release. Speaking of the 1999 Special Collectors Remastered Edition he said that "this particular attempt by Roadshow Home Entertainment is the best transfer of this film that I have seen to date. This is somewhat faint praise, however, as it is still not a great looking DVD, but I believe that this can be put down to the source material rather than being blamed on the deficiencies with the transfer, and I doubt that we will ever see a transfer that is any better looking than this one of the movie." The 10th Anniversary Edition was reviewed by Rob G who was likewise disappointed that the film didn't get a better DVD treatment to mark the anniversary.

     Leaving aside our esteemed leader's apparent lack of foresight when it comes to the high-definition revolution it is disappointing to report that the Blu-ray transfer of Pulp Fiction is still not a shining example of the format. Even worse, we in Region B are being short-changed on our local product.

     To explain. In every other Region in the World, as well as Region B UK, the film was issued in 1080P. In this Region we received, inexplicably, a 1080i transfer. Sometimes distributors wanting to issue a niche title will resort to a 1080i transfer, usually sourced from a High Definition TV copy. That may be disappointing but where no region gets a full HD transfer at least we in the Antipodes don't feel short-changed. Nature videos from National Geographic and concert films are often in 1080i. However, films are rarely issued in this format because we expect 1080P as a minimum transfer quality.

     Does it make a big difference? Of course it is hard to know without comparing it to an existing 1080P transfer. On paper, it is still higher than DVD quality and if done well should in all respects be a vast improvement over the DVD.

     To that end there are a number of positives. Of course,Pulp Fiction, from the 70s style opening credits through the bar scenes and dungeons, was never meant to be a pristine cinema experience. Still, reports from overseas suggest that the 1080P version is a vast improvement over the DVD quality.

     The High Definition transfer is at its best in close-up. The flesh tones and detail are superb. The little creases in Thurman's gorgeous lips and the individual strands of Samuel L. Jackson's hairdo stand in remarkable detail. The colours are variable but fairly stable, a reflection of the source material. The grain level is perfectly cinematic.

     Yet, even compared against an acceptable 1080i image, this transfer has its problems. It lacks the highest degree of image quality that would come with a 1080P transfer, particularly in the midrange shots which are soft, particularly at the right hand edge of the picture. Michael wrote of aliasing problems. These are no longer apparent. However, another problem he described, a telecine wobble, is still in the transfer. Unfortunately, that is not the end of the technical defects. Not only are there more positive and negative artefacts than I can recall seeing in a Blu-ray before but there is evidence of combing which can occur with a dodgy 1080i transfer. I noticed evidence of slight combing at various moments but to see a prime example you need go no further than the scene in Jackrabbit Slims. At 34.55 the midget bellhop steps only slightly out of the action and dissolves in a fuzzy softness of interlacing.

     A disappointing transfer and one that should be re-issued in the near future.

     There are subtitles in English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The core sound for Pulp Fiction is 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio. There is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448 Kb/s and a Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 track running at 224 Kb/s.

     Compared the visual presentation this is a masterpiece. I can't say it is perfect though. The sound appears a little underwhelming and lacks the degree of oomph that I remember from the cinema. Remember the moment when you first heard Misirlou ripping through the cinema? The aural hit is still there but it could be punchier. The dialogue is generally clear although there is a bit of mumbling that goes on, Particularly from Travolta. That is intentional. No such issue with Samuel L Jackson - every expletive can be heard!

     It is impossible to talk about the film without the soundtrack. Tarantino didn't invent surf music but he sure did bring it back to life, with the aforementioned Dick Dale song a new hit on the charts. Similarly, Urge Overkill became a mainstream success overnight with their cover of Girl, You'll Be A Woman originally sung by Neil Diamond.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     More bad news. This Blu-ray edition contains 8 extras. All, with the exception of three non-anamorphic, horribly scratchy, trailers, were on the 10th Anniversary Edition.

     They are:

  1. Pulp Fiction: The Facts (30.00)
  2. Deleted Scenes (25.00)
  3. Behind the Scenes Montages (11.00)
  4. Production Design Featurette (6.00)
  5. Siskel & Ebert At the Movies: The Tarantino Generation (16.00)
  6. Independent Spirit Awards (12.00)
  7. Cannes Film Festival – Palme D'Or Acceptance Speech (5.00)
  8. Charlie Rose Show (56.00)

     Even more bad news:
Other Region Blu-ray Editions include a couple more extras with updates on the film from a more modern perspective:

  1. Marketing Gallery
  2. Still Gallery
  3. Trivia Track
  4. Not the Usual Mindless Boring Getting to Know You Chit Chat (43.00) - NEW Interviews with Cast including: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosanna Arquette, Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth and more
  5. Here Are Some Facts on the Fiction (20.37)- NEW Critics’ Retrospective on the Movie’s Place in Film History

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Every Region is better than ours.

Summary

     Pulp Fiction is a modern classic. This Blu-ray is not a fair representation of the film as it should be seen. Grab a copy from another Region. The extras are on the 10th Anniversary Edition. Is it an upgrade from the DVD? In parts, yes but the truth is that we in Region B Australia should never have got this edition in the first place. It is reviewed here as part of the Quentin Tarantino Collection. If you don't have the other movies then maybe you should buy it...maybe.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Worth investigating... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Just import the UK edition. - Wilson Bros, UK REPLY POSTED
ROADSHOW!!!(down on knees screaming) - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
No Frills / US Region A - bennythesoundman REPLY POSTED
importing is sometimes the only choice - Anonymous
1080i isn't really the problem - Shane

Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997)

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 1-Dec-2011

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-Jackie Brown - How it Went Down
Interviews-Crew-An Interview with Quentin Tarantino
Short Film-"Chicks With Guns" Video
Deleted Scenes-With Introduction by Tarantino
Featurette-Review by Siskel and Ebert
Featurette-MTV Contest and Interviews
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Photo
Trivia
Music Highlights
Trailer-Robert Forster
Trailer-Pam Grier
Featurette-Breaking Down Jackie Brown
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 153:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Pam Grier
Samuel L. Jackson
Robert Forster
Bridget Fonda
Michael Keaton
Robert De Niro
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     When, after a gap of over 3 years,Quentin Tarantino released Jackie Brown, it wasn't what anyone was expecting. Sure, all the Tarantino trademarks seem to be there. It was set amongst a crime milieu, featured some sharp, self-aware dialogue and expressed the director's admiration for films of a bygone era, in this case the 1970s blaxploitation flicks. But this is Quentin Tarantino with a heart.

     So where did this new-found sentiment come from? The answer probably lies in the original source for Tarantino's script-the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard. Leonard knows how to create hard characters in a crime soaked environment but he has a skill at making them likeable. In adapting the novel Tarantino added some of the dialogue for which he is justly famous and created a work with two of his most likeable characters. Tarantino changed the titular character from Jackie Burke to Jackie Brown and changed her from white to black. His infatuation with the films of Pam Grier led to him casting the well-out -of-favour actress in the lead role. Grier had been a notable performer in the "girls in cages" movies of the 70s as well as a string of girl-power blaxploitation films like Coffey and Foxy Brown - "black and stacked and packed with fury!"

     With those films as his reference and Pam Grier in the lead many may have expected that Tarantino would turn the Elmore Leonard book into a tongue-in-cheek, over the top blood fest. Instead Tarantino delivered perhaps his most mature film, featuring some strong and moving performances from a cast of forgotten performers as well as current legends.

     Jackie Brown is a 44-year-old airline stewardess with a difficult past. A previous drug bust importing product for her then husband has damaged her status and employability in the industry. She is now working at the bottom of the ladder, for Capo Airlines running out of Mexico, and is on a basic wage. Jackie has been forced to supplement that wage by bringing money into the country for gunrunner Ordell Robbie (Samuel L Jackson). Ordell has been having a few problems of his own. Another employee, Livingston (Chris Tucker) has been arrested for a traffic violation and the police have found a gun in his car. Washington is looking at a long prison term. Ordell knows that it won't be too long before Livingston sells him out to avoid prison.

     Ordell visits bail bondsman Max Cherry (Robert Forster) to get Washington out on bail. Once freed a bullet to the head from Ordell solves the immediate problem! With Jackie Brown doing money importation Ordell needs another worker, which he finds in recently released ex-con Louis (Robert De Niro). Louis is none too bright and having trouble adapting to the world outside of prison. Ordell lets him hang out at his beach side apartment occupied by his surfer girl fling Melanie (Bridget Fonda). Melanie was clearly originally enchanted by the machismo of Ordell but now the respect has vanished.

     The plot steps up a gear when Jackie Brown is arrested at the airport by LAPD detective Mark Bargas (Michael Owen) and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton). Once again Ordell bails out his employee but this time the cagey Jackie is too smart to cop a bullet. She makes plans with the police to set Ordell up on gun charges ... all the while plotting with Ordell to bring in the bulk of his fortune hidden in Mexico. How can she possibly pull it off? With the help of Max Cherry, as the 56 year old bail bondsman has fallen under the spell of the bewitching Jackie.

     The difference between this Tarantino film and his earlier flicks is that the affection Max feels for Jackie is genuine and, who knows, she just might have feelings for him too. Jackie Brown may not be quintessential Quentin but to my mind it is probably his most complete and emotionally engaging film. It isn't perfect. Even he concedes that it is pretty long. It is not hard to see where the film could have been cut. There are a number of scenes with Jackson riffing and jiving to De Niro. But they do it so well that I can imagine Quentin’s reluctance. The courage to make a 44 year old woman not only the lead but a seductress of considerable allure is a brave one. When was the last time this was done? The Thomas Crown Affair remake with Rene Russo perhaps? Jackson is stunning in the film creating a cold calculating killer who meets his match in Jackie Brown. But the film is really an actor’s playground for Grier to bounce of the cast including Forster in his best role. Grier is so good and compelling that you can't imagine why she wasn't constantly getting work.

     This Blu-ray isn't at present available for individual purchase. It is only available as part of the Quentin Tarantino Collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Jackie Brown appears on Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio consistent with its original aspect ratio. This is, in fact, the only Tarantino feature film to be released in this ratio. Why the change from 2.35:1? Perhaps to get that greater sense of intimacy.

     This is a strong Blu-ray transfer but not one that comes close to reference quality. The film has that 70's cinema look. There are a lot of browns around and the flesh tones and colours run a little hot.

     There is no criticizing the detail in the faces. Robert Forster looks like he has earned every wrinkle and the hairs in his eyebrows can be counted individually. There is a lot of darkness in the film and the blacks are pretty well handled without evidence of compression problems.

     There are subtitles in English, English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish, which give a good account of on-screen action and dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The sound for Jackie Brown is English 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio. There is also a DTS Sound Check included to improve your sonic experience.

     The dialogue is clear and easy to understand including Samuel L. Jackson's controversial use, or overuse, of the "n" word. This film perhaps doesn't lend itself to sonic showmanship yet there is a pleasing ambience to the sound track. There are no technical problems with the transfer.

     Tarantino delves deep into the funk and soul catalogue for this film unearthing a number of lost classics like the opening credits tune Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack, the track Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)by The Delfonics which plays a role in the relationship between the three key cast members and even Pam Grier’s funky Long Time Woman.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Jackie Brown has had only one release in Region 4. That release had a bare bones extras component. In Region 1 a Collector’s Edition was released which had a bunch of extras. These are listed below.

Jackie Brown: How it Went Down (38:55)

    This is divided into ten parts. Each segment contains interviews with people crucial to the project including Tarantino, long-time producer Lawrence Bender, author Elmore Leonard, editor Sally Menke, actors Grier, Forster, Jackson, De Niro, Fonda, Bowen and Keaton, as well as the prop team. There is a lot of good information on offer here though some of it doesn't really delve below the surface of an EPK.

A Look Back at Jackie Brown (54:42)

     Quentin Tarantino is interviewed at length about the origin of the project, the production and the release of the film. As usual, he speaks a million miles an hour. The only pity is that the interviewer isn't adequately miked so it can be a challenge hearing what she is saying.

'Chicks with Guns' video (4:52)

     Tarantino introduces the full video (actually called Chicks Who Love Guns. There is a fun surprise at the end.

Deleted/Alternate scenes with introduction from Tarantino (15:29 SD)

     Six scenes are on offer. Only one is of real interest, a moment when Brown and Cherry work out how to foil Ordell. The film works better without it.

Siskel and Ebert's review of Jackie Brown (4:46)

     The two critics each give the film a thumbs up and both clearly revel in Tarantino's use of language.

MTV promotional contest video (01:03)

     Actually, this is funny. Tarantino is giving away Miramax's money - the $25,000 from the shopping bag to a lucky viewer. There is a lot of fun from the cast.

MTV Live interview segment(14:22)

     An interview featuring Tarantino, Grier and Fonda chillin' out on the MTV couch.

Trailers (03:50)

     A bunch of trailers.

TV spots (03:56)

     A bunch of TV spots.

Poster Art

     A bunch of posters.

Still Galleries

     You guessed it, a bunch of stills.

Trivia Track

     Little titbits to keep you entertained.

Soundtrack Chapters

     Wanna skip to your favourite songs from the movie. This option allows you to jump right in.

Robert Forster trailers (27:46)

     A selection of trailers, some featuring Forster in prime position but mostly where he is a background character.

Pam Grier trailers (36:21)

     How many caged women movies can one woman make? As it turns out, quite a lot. Grier must have paused on some days trying to remember if she was the "tough, sexy prisoner" or the "hot, sadistic guard"! There are some great mid-70s trailers when Grier was at her height though some later trailers had me going "spot the Pam".

Pam Grier radio spots

     A bunch of these spots are included. There is only one "new" extra created since the Collector’s edition.

Breaking Down Jackie Brown

     This is a roundtable discussion from a bunch of film critics including Scott Foundas and Stephanie Zacharek. It is entertaining enough though you have to like "book club" shows to appreciate the value of the debate.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is the same as the Region A Edition.

Summary

     Jackie Brown is Tarantino at his most leisurely and direct. The film focusses on characters and, with his high quality dialogue, we get an investment in the performances that really pays off. Tears at the end ? A couple...

     The Blu-ray is a decent transfer which looks about the best the film will look and sounds pretty good.

     The extras are pretty detailed but anyone who imported the Collector’s Edition will already have the best of them.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003)

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Released 1-Sep-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of
Music Highlights-5,6,7,8's Perform 'I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield' & 'I'm Blue'
Trailer-6 trailers for Tarantino films
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 110:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Uma Thurman
David Carradine
Lucy Liu
Daryl Hannah
Vivica A. Fox
Michael Madsen
Michael Parks
Sonny Chiba
Chiaki Kuriyama
Julie Dreyfus
Chia Hui Liu
Jun Kunimura
Kazuki Kitamura
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Lily Chou Chou
RZA
D.A. Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German dts 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Spanish
German
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Revenge is never a straight line”

     The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are a team of female assassins controlled by a shadowy man named Bill (David Carradine). When the deadliest assassin of the group, code name Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), decides that she wants to leave the group, get married and settle down, Bill has other ideas; the Vipers gatecrash the wedding rehearsal and massacre the pregnant bride, the groom and guests. But they make one mistake: they fail to kill Black Mamba (now known as The Bride). She survives in a coma and when she awakes four years later she has only one thought: to take revenge on the Vipers and to Kill Bill. The first Viper on her list is O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) who has used her skills to take control of the Tokyo yakuza underworld. First obtaining a samurai sword from master sword maker Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) in Okinawa, The Bride travels to Tokyo to confront O-Ren and her Crazy 88 group members in a wild and bloody showdown in the House of Blue Leaves.

     In true Tarantino style, Kill Bill Vol.1 is not told sequentially, but jumps around, with no back-story, starting to tell the tale of how The Bride works her way up the Viper chain to Bill. Kill Bill Vol.1 is Tarantino's homage to the Hong Kong kung fu films of the 70s and 80s, and indeed the film starts with the famous Shaw Brothers title screen and fanfare! However, in truth the latter half of the film is closer to the Japanese chambara films from the 1960s onwards, in which a lone swordsman dispatches hordes of sword waving opponents: in the House of Blue Leaves climax, the figure of The Bride could be replaced by any number of characters played by Toshiro Mifune (such as his samurai in Kihachi Okamoto’s Samurai Assassin (1964)) without feeling out of place. Tarantino also casts as sword maker Hanzo Japanese action screen icon from the 1970s Sonny Chiba; in a series of The Streetfighter films starting in 1974, Chiba established a persona not unlike Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy – that of an amoral loner who says little but lets his fists / guns do the talking. But of course Tarantino puts his own stamp on proceedings and the result in Kill Bill is a revenge film that is a delicious blend of kung fu, samurai chambara and spaghetti western.

     In Kill Bill Vol.1 Tarantino uses a number of camera tricks, plus an anime section, but they are never overdone: in fact the action sequences are quite traditional with wire work and middle perspective takes showing the fighters in action rather than the quick, jolting takes more common in recent films. The acting and dialogue are also first class, the set pieces spectacular, including the final fight between The Bride and O-Ren in the snow covered courtyard. Another highlight of the film is the musical choices, a gloriously effective mish-mash of styles and genres. While The RZA provides the original music, it is the popular music additions that resonate, either enhancing, or counterbalancing, the action on screen. From the opening sequence to the sound of Nancy Sinatra singing Bang, Bang, the score is a treat, also drawing on the likes of Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes, Japanese all girl group 5, 6, 7, 8’s, Mexican horns and Spaghetti Western riffs, including a contribution from the master himself, Ennio Morricone.

     Kill Bill Vol.1 is frenetic, violent and bloody, with limbs and heads hacked off and showers of blood. Yet the action sequences are never played as gratuitous violence and in fact are quite traditional chambara fare. The acting and dialogue are first class, the set pieces spectacular, the musical score fabulous. Kill Bill may be a homage to a bygone era of film, but it shows Tarantino in full control of his material and is a wonderful film, full of colour, action and music.

     The previous DVD of Kill Bill Vol. 1 was reviewed on this site here. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill the Blu-ray is the way to go.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Kill Bill Vol.1 is presented in a ratio of 2.40:1, close to the original ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p. It looks wonderful.

     This is a film where the colours are vibrant without being garish and positively leap off the screen. The print is sharp, detail is superb, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Blacks are absolutely solid, shown to great effect in the black and white action sequence, shadow detail excellent. I think I noticed one or two tiny marks, but otherwise artefacts were absent.

     Subtitles are available in English, English HI, Italian, Spanish and German. The English subtitles were in a smallish white font that is occasionally difficult to read against light backgrounds. This is relevant for non-Japanese speakers as quite a lot of the film is in Japanese. The main issue I have with the subtitles is that they do not come on automatically when Japanese dialogue is spoken if you select “no subtitles” from the set up menu. If you select English or English HI subtitles, then all dialogue, English and Japanese, is subtitled which I find distracting. The subtitles did follow the dialogue closely and I did not notice any grammatical or spelling errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1, plus Italian, Spanish and German DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the English uncompressed track and sampled the Dolby Digital.

     Dialogue, except for the scene in the body strewn wedding chapel where Michael Parks speaks indistinctly, was clean, centred and easy to understand. The surrounds were fully utilised for effects, panning effects during the action sequences, and music. The footsteps of Bill across the chapel floor, or the breaking glass in an early action sequence, were crisp. Swords clanged in a satisfactory manner, making for an enveloping aural experience. The sub woofer was not overdone but provided effective support when needed.

    The Dolby Digital was good, but lacks the sharpness and resonance of the uncompressed audio track.

     The original score by The RZA (who also provided the score in Jim Jarmusch’s excellent Ghost Dog (1999) is good but it is the added music by the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Quincy Jones Isaac Hayes, Luis Bacalov and Ennio Morricone that provides wonderful support for the visuals. It comes over nicely in the mix.

     Lip Synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     All extras are SD and are repeated from the previous DVD release.

The Making of Kill Bill (22:06)

     Made in 2003, this covers the ideas behind the film, the genesis of the script, character, casting, locations and music. Some behind the scenes footage, plus interview footage with Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, composer The RZA and actors Uma Thurman, Julie Dreyfus, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Lui and Daryl Hannah.

Music Clips: “5, 6, 7, 8’s” (5:52)

     Performances of “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” and “I’m Blue” by the Japanese all girl band featured in the film.

Tarantino Trailers

    Included are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray is identical to the US Region 0 Blu-ray except for language and subtitle options. We still, however, have none of the copious extras that were available on the Japanese DVD – see the review link above for details.

Summary

     Kill Bill Vol.1 is Quentin Tarantino’s homage to a bygone era of kung fu and chambara films. Tarantino is in full control of his material and Kill Bill Vol.1 is a fascinating and entertaining film, full of colour, action and fabulous music.

     The video and audio are wonderful. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill, the Blu-ray is the way to go.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
No offense but I'd wait... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Re 'No Offence'... - Anonymous
The Whole Bloody Affair - Anonymous
Japanese and International version is performance art in action - Tom Tuttle

Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004)

Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004)

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Released 1-Sep-2011

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of-(26:03)
More…-Chingon Performance From Kill Bill Vol. 2 Premiere
Deleted Scenes-x 1
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 136:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Uma Thurman
David Carradine
Michael Madsen
Daryl Hannah
Chia Hui Liu
Michael Parks
Perla Haney-Jardine
Christopher Allen Nelson
Bo Svenson
Jeannie Epper
Claire Smithies
Clark Middleton
Larry Bishop
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music RZA
Robert Rodriguez


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 44.1/16 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German dts 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Spanish
German
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Revenge is never a straight line”

     The Bride, aka Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), has returned from the carnage in Japan and is on the trail of the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad including Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and Bill’s brother Bud (Michael Madsen). She works her way up the Deadly Viper chain towards a final confrontation with Bill (David Carradine), but not before an unforseen complication arises.

     In true Tarantino style Kill Bill Vol.2 is not told sequentially but jumps around and includes The Bride’s training in martial arts under Chinese master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Where Vol.1 was Tarantino's homage to the kung fu and chambara films of the 60s, 70s and 80s, Vol.2 is very different in tone and harder to categorise; it has more back story, is more reflective and slower moving, part horror, part thriller, part mystery and part action. Indeed, the action is more Leone than kung fu, with slow build-ups to short, ferocious and intense explosions of action, such as the fight between The Bride and Elle Driver within the confines of a mobile home. In Vol.2, however, Tarantino does take the opportunity to deliver a purely Shaw Bros sequence in the martial arts training of The Bride by Pai Mei, who is played by the great Shaw Bros actor Gordon Liu (Liu Chai Hui), perhaps best known for his iconic role in the 1978 kung fu classic The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Liu also appeared in Vol.1 as Johnny Mo, but was hidden under a mask). In Vol.2 there are more silences, more talk, and some of the more usual Tarantino pop culture dialogue that was absent in Vol.1 (this time about comic book superheroes).

     Another major difference in Kill Bill Vol.2 is the music. In Vol.1 The RZA provided the original music plus an exotic mix of popular songs from the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes, Japanese all girl group 5, 6, 7, 8’s, Mexican horns and Ennio Morricone. In contrast, the score for Vol.2 is provided by Tarantino’s friend and fellow director Robert Rodriguez. It is far more cogent, a fusion of Mexican horns and guitars, not unlike Desperado but with added spaghetti western influences. There also remains some of The RZA’s original score plus some Shaw Brothers film music in the Chinese training segment. While the music works fine, to my mind it does not reach the impressive heights of the blending of popular music and score in Vol.1. Indeed, the one place in Vol.2 that does revert to popular music, using About Her by Malcolm McLaren which itself samples The Zombies’ She’s Not There, it is wonderfully atmospheric and effective.

     One advantage of the slower, more intense pace of Kill Bill Vol.2 is that the character and back story of The Bride is able to be developed; Uma Thurman gives a wonderfully vulnerable performance and is not afraid to get down and dirty. David Carradine is also good as the enigmatic Bill although it is Michael Madsen who impresses. His Bud is laid back and rational, a man whose understanding of the consequences of their actions makes him marginally the most sympathetic character in the film – which is a difficult act to pull off, given what he does to The Bride! .

     Kill Bill Vol.2 is more intense, more philosophical than Vol.1 but can still disorientate and distress, such as the scene (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) where The Bride is buried alive. Kill Bill Vol. 2 looks spectacular, features some intense one on one action sequences and some delicious Tarantino dialogue. And of course The Bride finally gets to try to “Kill Bill”.

     The DVD of Kill Bill Vol. 2 was reviewed on this site here. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill Vol.2 the Blu-ray is the way to go.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Kill Bill Vol.1 is presented in a ratio of 2.40:1, close to the original ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p. It looks wonderful.

     This is a film where the colours of the Texas desert are vibrant without being garish and positively leap off the screen. There are exceptions – in the training sequence, the colours are deliberately muted, it is less sharp and the brightness is at a higher level, reminiscent of a 70s Shaw Bros film. Otherwise the print is sharp, detail superb, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Blacks are absolutely solid, showing to good effect in the black and white sequences, shadow detail excellent. I did not notice artefacts of any kind.

     Subtitles are available in English, English HI, Italian, Spanish and German. The English subtitles were in a smallish white font that is occasionally difficult to read against light backgrounds. Unlike Vol.1, where the subtitles do not come on automatically when non-English dialogue is spoken if you select “no subtitles” from the set up menu, in Vol.2 when other languages are spoken (in this case Chinese and Spanish) the non-English dialogue is automatically translated in smallish yellow subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1, plus Italian, Spanish and German DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the English uncompressed track and sampled the Dolby Digital.

     Dialogue, except where Michael Parks is playing an aged Mexican and was a bit indistinct, was clean, centred and easy to understand. The surrounds were fully utilised for effects and music. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) In the sequence when The Bride is buried alive, the screen goes black and we hear the chilling sound of the dirt crashing on top of the coffin that fills the room with sound. Sub woofer usage was not overdone but provided effective support when needed.

    The Dolby Digital was reasonable but lacks the sharpness and resonance of the uncompressed audio track.

     The original score by Robert Rodriguez is based upon Mexican horns and guitars plus spaghetti western riffs and provides effective support for the visuals. The added song About Her by Malcolm McLaren which itself samples The Zombies’ She’s Not There is wonderfully effective.

     Lip Synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     All extras are SD and are repeated from the previous DVD release.

The Making of Kill Bill Vol.2 (26:03)

     Made in 2004, this covers the differences between Vol.1 and Vol.2, the back-story, character development and music. There are a lot more film clips than was the case in the making of volume 1, some behind the scenes footage, plus interview footage with Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, composer Robert Rodriguez and actors Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah.

”Damoe” Deleted Scene (3:38)

     A scene where Bill dispatches five assailants while The Bride watches. Looks a lot like another homage to Shaw Bros, with more muted colours and Shaw Bros music. Probably rightly cut.

”Chingon" Musical Performance (11:34)

     A musical performance featuring Robert Rodriguez and Chingon playing at the Kill Bill Vol. 2 premiere. Good entertainment.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray is identical to the US Region 0 Blu-ray except for language and subtitle options. We still, however, have none of the extras that were available on the Japanese DVD – see the review link above for details.

Summary

     Kill Bill Vol.2 is very different in tone to Vol.1. Vol.2 is less frenetic, more reflective and complex. It looks spectacular, features some intense one on one action sequences and Tarantino comes up with some delicious dialogue. And of course The Bride finally gets to try to “Kill Bill”.

     The video and audio are wonderful. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill Vol.2 the Blu-ray is the way to go.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007)

Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007)

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Released 5-Feb-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof
Featurette-Kurt Russel as Stuntman Mike
Featurette-Finding Quentin's Gals
Featurette-The Guys of Death Proof
Featurette-Introducting Zoe Bell
Featurette-Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke
Trailer-Death Proof and Double Dare
Featurette-The Hot Rods of Death Proof
Gallery-Photo-International Poster Gallery
Music Highlights-Extended Music Cues
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 113:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kurt Russell
Zoe Bell
Rosario Dawson
Vanessa Ferlito
Sydney Tamiia Poitier
Tracie Thoms
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Quentin Tarantino is one of the most adept and stylish wordsmiths in the history of cinema. In his hands the banalities of modern life are rendered fresh and vital. So it is difficult to explain then the scriptological mess that is Death Proof. What could have led the man who wrote several of the sharpest films in recent memory to pen something that commits the very worst transgression in the Tarantino Commandments - the sin of being boring?

     It can't be the format. The history of the Grindhouse Project, the plan to recreate the feel of a 70s schlock cinema experience, is well known. Combining the two films of Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez into one cinema experience, complete with fake trailers and missing film reels, seemed like a hoot on paper. For reasons that aren't entirely clear it nosedived at the Box Office and Harvey "Scissorhands" Weinstein separated the two films and tried to make them individual money earners. It didn't work. Perhaps they were conjoined twins who shared only one heart? The Grindhouse set can now be purchased on Blu-ray. Perhaps this remains the only way to experience the films at their best? In order to release the film as a solo effort Tarantino stuck 27 minutes back into the film. Twenty seven minutes that was left out in the first place. Twenty seven long minutes.

     The plot of Death Proof is so flimsy that it is barely worth the ink to write it down. Not that this is a criticism. The grindhouse films of the 60s and 70s were well known for their illogical plots, often poor acting and banal dialogue. But generally they were brief, full of appalling conduct and instantly forgettable. This is the sort of élan which Death Proof, in this extended version, should but doesn't possess. So, back to the plot. A trio of girls drive to a bar in Austin Texas where they hang out. They meet up with Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who creeps them out a little, particularly given he drives a matte black 1971 Chevy Nova with a skull on the bonnet. When home time comes he offers a lift to another girl (Rose McGowan) then involves them all in a horrendous accident. Cut to a new place, Lebanon Tennessee and a new bunch of girls including Rosario Dawson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Stuntman Mike appears, gets them involved in a deadly road game. The end.

     As said, the plot is not really a problem. What is a problem is the interminable dialogue between each set of girls. As they talk about men and good times the air slowly leaks out of the film. There is some decent non-CGI action particularly involving real stuntwoman Kiwi (or is she Australian? ) Zoe Bell. It is fantastic to see some real stunts in a modern film but I wish it wasn't such a chore getting there.

     The scenes that work are not just the action moments but some of the dread laden moments in the bar as Mike starts to unwind his creepiness. Russell proves how well he can walk the line of charm and evil. The car itself deserves a mention - a black, scary beast.

     I wanted to like Death Proof but in the end it was just a little too dull. Although Tarantino drops his references everywhere, most particularly to the 70s existential car movie Vanishing Point, the film is really only enjoyable in parts. Shame Quentin. Who knows, shorn of 27 minutes it might just be the hoot and holler it promised to be on paper.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Death Proof was reviewed on DVD when it was released on that format. The film is in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

     Ben faced the same problem as I do now. How do you rate the quality of a transfer where the film has been manipulated to make it look intentionally bad; faded, scratched and damaged? The answer is to look deeper into the movie. When the film starts it is a mess of added marks and faded image. It looks, intentionally, rubbish. Even worse, for High Definition viewers is that many of the scratches look "new". I can't mark the film down for artefacts and excessive grain because it is meant to be there! After the first "set of girls", however, Tarantino firstly displays the film in a crisp black and white and then lets the film assume a normal colour image quality and the finer details of the Blu-ray emerge. In fact, it has a pleasing level of detail, particularly in the close-ups and the colours are suitably garish. The flesh tones are pretty accurate.

     Aside from the "defects" referred to above there are no technical problems with this transfer.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired and Spanish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The prime soundtrack for Death Proof is English True HD. There is a wealth of other language options in Dolby Digital 5.1. These include English, French, Italian and Spanish.

     As with the image quality the film initially has a number of pops, crackles and sonic blemishes intentionally added to the track to make it sound like rubbish. It does. Dialogue is often choppy with words missing where the print has been spliced and badly joined back together. Again this is meant to be there so it can't be criticized.

     Otherwise the dialogue is clear and easy to understand.Tarantino has opted for a pretty raw sound for the film. The bass rumbles with Mike's car and the surrounds are well used in the chase scenes.

     As usual, Tarantino has dug into some obscure archives for the music for the film. This time he uses some distinctly Italian tunes from the 60s and 70s, some from films, including Ennio Morricone. The standout, also used for the menu screen is Serge Gainsbourg's Chick Habit as performed by April March. Real grindhouse stuff.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Death Proof came out at the same time as this Blu-ray in a double DVD edition with heaps of extras. They are reviewed in the DVD review. It is perhaps not surprising that, except for a few minor additions, the extras on the Blu-ray are the same. They are:

The Hot Rods of Death Proof

Trailers for Death Proof Double Dare

Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof

Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike

Introducing Zoe Bell

Finding Quentin's Gals

The Guys of Death Proof (8:14)

Casting Rebel

Uncut Version of Baby It's You

Quentin’s Greatest Collaborator : Editor Sally Menke

    The couple of extra extras for the Blu-ray are:

International Poster Gallery

     A selection of posters for the film including one, inexplicably, featuring Danny Trejo.

Extended Music Cues

     This is like a juke box. Three tunes are available to listen to in full. They are
Ennio Morricone - Unexpected Violence Guido and Mauritzio de Angelis - Gangster Story Franco Micalizzi - Italia a Man Armata

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The versions available in different Regions have the same feature set and specifications as this release.

Summary

    

Death Proof is a surprising mis-step for Tarantino. A chance to just go wild with the promise of low brow destruction has been missed in favour of dull dialogue and little action. When the action does happen it is pretty hot though.

     The look and sound of the film is as good as the conceit allows.

     The extras are pretty good though nothing really special for Blu-ray owners.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Ah, Grindhouse... - Wilson Bros, UK REPLY POSTED
Which version did you get? - Anonymous

Overall | Reservoir Dogs (Blu-ray) (1992) | Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray) (1994) | Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) (1997) | Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003) | Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Blu-ray) (2004) | Death Proof (Blu-ray) (2007) | Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

Inglourious Basterds (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 15-Dec-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Deleted Scenes-Extended and alternate scenes (11:26)
Short Film-Nation's Pride - Full Feature (6:10)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Elvis Mitchell (30:45)
Featurette-Making Of-Making of Nation's Pride (4:00)
Featurette-The Original Inglorious Bastards (7:39)
Interviews-Cast-A Conversation with Rod Taylor (6:43)
Featurette-Rod Taylor on Victoria Bitter (3:19)
Featurette-Quentin Tarantino's Camera Angel (2:42)
Featurette-Hi Sallys (2:09)
Gallery-Poster-Film Poster Gallery Tour with Elvis Mitchell (11:00)
Trivia-Killin' Nazis Trivia Challenge
Gallery-Poster-Inglourious Basterds poster gallery
Trailer-Trailers
Featurette-D-Box compatibility
Featurette-Pocket Blu app for iPhone app
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 152:59
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Brad Pitt
Mélanie Laurent
Christoph Waltz
Eli Roth
Michael Fassbender
Diane Kruger
Daniel Brühl
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $42.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     In an interview with Dylan Callaghan for The Hollywood Reporter in October, 2003 for the film Kill Bill: Volume 1, Quentin Tarantino discussed what his next project, Inglorious B******s was about: "I know how to say it: I'm going even further with the whole spaghetti western route — even further than I did with Kill Bill. Inglorious B******s is truly spaghetti western, just set in Nazi-occupied France. I'm going to find a place that actually resembles, in one way or another, the Spanish locales they had in spaghetti westerns (i.e. The Province of Almería, Spain) — a no man's land. With American soldiers and French peasants and the French resistance and Nazi occupiers, it was kind of a no man's land. That will really be my spaghetti western but with World War II iconography. But the thing is, I won't be period specific about the movie. I'm not just gonna play a lot of Edith Piaf and Andrews Sisters. I can have rap, and I can do whatever I want. It's about filling in the viscera". A bit later in the interview Callaghan asks, "Is Rio Bravo still your all-time favorite movie?" and Tarantino replied "It's still one of my very favorites, but right now I think my favorite movie in the world is and always kinda has been The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." These short snippets of dialogue from Quentin Tarantino provide us with the foundations of what this film is about; without understanding the references to what is quoted above, you will miss out on what Inglourious Basterds is about.

     What Inglourious Basterds is about is not so easy to define without some knowledge of cinematic history and film genre. I mention this point because Tarantino has stated that this film is a spaghetti western set in Nazi-occupied France. So what Tarantino is doing with this film is re-inventing the genre of the spaghetti western and fusing it with Nazi war films. So why didn't Tarantino just make a modern spaghetti western instead? Good question, and the answer lies in the fact that the commercial reality of making modern-day films wouldn't allow for that possibility. You see, Tarantino is no dummy, he loves and has referenced in his films all sorts of film genres, from French New Wave, Asian martial arts cinema, westerns, exploitation films, crime film-noirs, but even he knows that a spaghetti western wouldn't get the funding he needed to classify the film as a masterpiece. Pulp Fiction was made on an independent budget of $US8 million, Inglourious Basterds needed $US75 million. Since Grindhouse proved a box-office failure, after barely making back it's $US50 million budget theatrically, Tarantino knew that Inglourious Basterds needed to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Inglourious Basterds was always going to be a Nazi-themed film, a sure box-office winner for its genre (how many World War II Nazi films do you know that have been box-office disasters?). But what you are really watching is a spaghetti western.

     In the opening scene, we meet SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) who arrives at a remote farm in France to question Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet) about the Dreyfus family (who are Jewish). The opening theme is from the 1960 western starring John Wayne, The Alamo entitled The Green Leaves of Summer. Many reviews have mentioned that the opening 20-minute scene is a reference to the opening scene of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. This is incorrect (the confusion may be caused by the title of the opening chapter of the film, Once Upon a Time...in Nazi Occupied France); the opening scene is a direct reference to the interrogation scene of Angel Eyes upon the former soldier Stevens in Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (remember the aforementioned quote of Tarantino's favourite movie?). This incredible scene has almost 10 minutes of silence before any dialogue is spoken and when Angel Eyes talks, we really get to see how determined he is in finding Bill Carson and his stolen gold. Colonel Landa is similarly just as ruthless in chasing down French Jews. The cattle farmers in the opening scene is a reference to the innocent people in Westerns, who were open to attacks by Indians or gunslingers. The LaPadite family is terrorised for sheltering Jews by the Nazis who are portrayed as gunslingers.

     Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is also called Aldo the Apache. His background is mysterious. He can be compared to Clint Eastwood's character from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Blondie, who is mysterious, the man with no name who is a bounty hunter and like Aldo collects scalps (although Aldo collects literal scalps, Blondie collects monetary scalps). In the spaghetti western genre, both these heroes are slightly flawed, unlike traditional westerns where the main hero is completely virtuous. We know that Aldo is the son of Mountain Man Jim Bridges, an Indian in the Apache Resistance; which explains why he insists on scalping Nazis. Westerns from the 1940s to 1960s were set after the Civil War where their heroes were confederates; Aldo's strong southern accent suggests he is the confederate hero of this film. Other Apache references in the film include the card playing game where one of the Germans is Winnetou, the Chief of the Apaches, and on the night of the premiere of Nation's Pride Emmanuelle Mimieux, the pseudonym of Shosanna Dreyfuss, who escapes Colonel Landa from the farmhouse where she was hiding in the opening scene, smites war paint on her face Apache-style.

     In a traditional western a town was only considered civilised if it had a church. In the film Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) states that Mimieux's cinema has the "presence of a church". The Nazis are the unruly gunslingers in this film, upsetting the traditional Parisian culture by imposing their own German culture.

     Every Quentin Tarantino film has a reference to the famous final 'Mexican three-way stand-off' scene at the end of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly where Angel Eyes, Tuco and Blondie square off for what seems an eternity before a quick and final resolution. Similarly, Tarantino shows his adulation for the final scene of Leone's 1966 classic by closing the second act of the film in a bar with a three-way showdown with a lot of tension build-up due to the uneasy dialogue amongst the characters until the tension is quickly broken in the final shootout.

     Finally, the spaghetti western was traditionally named so because it was more violent than a traditional western of the 1950s and 1960s. Spaghetti westerns would climax by having a mass shootout of all the main characters in the film. Sergio Corbucci's The Great Silence famously ends this way, where the bounty hunters kill off innocents in the name of the law. My initial reaction to the ending of Inglourious Basterds was incredulousness due to the altering of historical facts, however, in light of the influence of the genre of the spaghetti western upon the film, the ending is now understandable, it simply can't end any other way.

     Quentin Tarantino wanted famous Italian composer Ennio Morricone to compose the soundtrack but he had a conflicting schedule. Still, eight of Morricone's songs were used in the film. The use of famous spaghetti western themes such as Dopo La Condonna, La Resa, Il ritorno di Ringo and Un dollaro bucato proves to us that Inglorious Basterds is not meant to be seen as a strict period film. Heck, there's even a reference to Un Amico from the 1973 crime flick, Revolver and David Bowie's theme from the remake of Cat People in 1982.

     The script took 10 years to develop. All along, Tarantino wanted this film to be his masterpiece, a phrase that is echoed in Aldo Raine's final line in the film. It has been Tarantino's most successful film to date in terms of gross box-office, with over $US300 million in worldwide takings so far.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino's most perfect film from a cinematographic point of view. It looks superb from start to finish on Blu-ray.

     Inglourious Basterds uses a MPEG-4 AVC/1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 2:40:1.

    Like Sergio Leone's iconic use of widescreen shots in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Tarantino uses the full depth-of-field to capture the backgrounds of scenes and balance it with explicit attention to detail. Colour is subdued, with pale colours dominating, perhaps due to the 1940s period of the film. The exception to this is the colour red, which is shot in a dynamic and bright way to emphasise the violent nature of the need to spill blood to exact revenge, which is one of the main themes of the film. Tarantino and director of photography Robert Richardson also used warm colours for interior scenes and pale greens and browns for the outdoor scenes.

     The average bitrate is very decent (for Blu-ray) at 25.67 m/b per sec. There are no obvious faults in the video transfer, no major film artefacts to speak of.

    Subtitles are available in English for the Hard of Hearing, French and Spanish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is another iconic soundtrack from Tarantino. There is a fine balance between dialogue in German, French and English and the use of the spaghetti-western and R&B influenced soundtrack selections.

    There are three main audio tracks available. The main audio track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track encoded at 3516 kbps. There is also a French and Spanish DTS 5.1 dub track. Both these tracks are encoded at 768 kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and synchronised throughout and easy to follow, even in quieter scenes.

     As mentioned, the music chosen for the soundtrack varies from the theme of The Alamo, to the theme of The Battle of Algiers, to the theme of Cat People. Tarantino uses Morricone's songs mainly on this soundtrack, although he does surprise with the inclusion of numbers such as Ray Charles' What'd I Say.

     There is a wide range in the surround channel mix. It is discrete and ambient for quiet, multilingual conversations, then immersive and almost overwhelming for the loud eruptions of gunfire and explosions later on. The tavern sequence is a good example of the mix of the soundtrack which goes from quiet and dialogue driven to quick and loud bursts of action.

     The subwoofer handles gunshots and explosions with the same ferocity as the film's final scene, and is especially lively for Eli Roth's scenes which reflect his baseball skills (watch the film to know what I mean!).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Extended and alternate scenes (HD - 11:26)

     There are three scenes included here, trimmed from the theatrical cut. The first scene is Lunch with Goebbels - Extended (HD - 7:10), which is the same sequence as the cut from the film, albeit shot from a different angle; La Louisiane Card Game - Extended (HD - 2:07), which adds some more of the card game that everyone plays in the bar; and Nation's Pride Begins - Alternate (HD - 2:09) which shows everyone sitting down before the Nation's Pride is screened. The La Louisiane extended scene was included in the final German theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray release.

Nation's Pride - Full Feature (6:10)

    Here we get to see the full version of Nation's Pride, the film discussed as the next big German Propaganda film in Inglourious Basterds. It was directed by Eli Roth.

Roundtable discussion with Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Elvis Mitchell (HD - 30:45)

    Quentin Tarantino is quite frank in his need to be more immediate and less meticulous in his filmmaking when he shot Inglourious Basterds. He states the reason for this was his need to grow as a filmmaker. Brad Pitt discusses the development of his accent for his character, Aldo Raine. Film critic Elvis Mitchell questions why Aldo Raine is the only character in the film who doesn't pretend to be anyone else but himself in the film. This discussion has funny anecdotes, but it is the best extra on this Blu-ray.

Making of Nation's Pride (HD - 4:00)

    This is a tongue-in-cheek look at the making of the film with director Eli Roth.

The Original Inglorious B******s (7:39)

    Praise is given for Enzo G. Castellari's original 1978 film, Inglorious B******s. The original cast and crew members also make cameos in Tarantino's film.

A Conversation with Rod Taylor (HD - 6:43)

    Rod Taylor talks about the process of playing Winston Churchill and how Tarantino insisted he play the role, despite his doubts.

Rod Taylor on Victoria Bitter (HD - 3:19)

    This is another funny Rod Taylor anecdote about Quentin Tarantino getting him his favourite beer and discussing movies.

Quentin Tarantino's Camera Angel (2:42)

    Quentin Tarantino's foul-mouthed clapboard girl finally gets her recognition with this extra!

Hi Sallys (2:09)

    The cast and crew say hello to the editor of Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke.

Film Poster Gallery Tour with Elvis Mitchell (11:00)

    Elvis Mitchell gives an expert tour on the posters seen in the film - both the ones based on real films and the ones designed by Tarantino for the film. This is an engaging featurette.

Killin' Nazis Trivia Challenge

    Answer sixty trivia questions on the film across ten rounds.

Inglourious Basterds poster gallery

    You can view 39 different film posters from around the world.

Trailers

     There is an option to see the following four trailers in one go: US teaser trailer (1:45), US theatrical trailer (2:23), International theatrical trailer (2:08) and Japanese theatrical trailer (1:17).

D-Box compatibility

    Have you got a D-Box chair? No? If you do you can use this extra to calibrate your chair to rumble along with the film.

Pocket Blu app for iPhone app

     An iPod touch and iPhone application allows devices to act as a remote control, a keyboard, and a mobile station for viewing bonus content.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Inglourious Basterds has been released in Region-free formats in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands. These releases all appear identical apart from slight variations with dubbed soundtracks and subtitles and the inclusion of a digital copy with the US Blu-ray release.

Summary

     Inglourious Basterds is not a re-make of Enzo G. Castellari's original 1978 film, Inglorious B******s. Instead it is a homage to Sergio Leone's 1966 classic spaghetti-western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Despite the obvious connections to the spaghetti-western genre, the IMDb link for this film mentions sixty film references from other movies.

    As a fan of spaghetti westerns I would have wished that Quentin Tarantino had made a western instead of a Nazi-themed World War II film. However, the commercial reality that resulted from the lack of box-office success for Tarantino's and Rodriguez's Grindhouse feature in 2007 meant that obscure genre films are not going to feature in Tarantino's productions in the near-future.

    Inglourious Basterds is funny, irreverent, violent and unpredictable. Christoph Waltz's Colonel Landa continues the fine tradition in the last few years of roles fully deserving to win Best Supporting Actor because they are so compelling, yet creepy. Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) were similarly iconic in their films.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Spaghetti Western... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED