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Pulp Fiction (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Pulp Fiction is finally out on Blu-ray. They sure did take their sweet-ass time with that one, didn't they?

While I like—actually, love—every film that Quentin Tarantino has made, I still think this one is his best. He made a film that is as close to perfect as any movie can be. Every frame tingles with excitement.

Even though John Travolta has stepped in his share of cinematic shit since 1994, Tarantino gave him the chance to be brilliant in this one. As Vincent Vega, heroin addict and hit-man, Travolta delivered career-best work. I say with great faith that this will be the best film that Travolta ever makes, and Vincent will remain his best character. Vega trumps Danny Zuko and the dude in the white suit from Saturday Night Fever, and those aren't easy characters to trump.

There are too many cool moments in the movie to count. I still crack up every time Harvey Keitel's character interrupts his speech to acknowledge his awesome cup of coffee, and everything Eric Stoltz does in this makes me wonder how he never became a bigger star.

This film provided me with one of the best in-theater experiences of my life, and this beautiful Blu-ray is fantastic. It absolutely pops off the screen.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Terrific new interviews with Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Rosanna Arquette, Stoltz and others are wonderful. Watching Travolta talk about his appreciation for Tarantino and the way he saved his career is actually quite moving. You also get a new critic's retrospective on the film, deleted scenes, Charlie Rose and Siskel and Ebert segments, and more.

Red State





(OUT OF 10)

Writer-director Kevin Smith took some big risks with his latest film. Not only is it his first venture into something akin to horror movies; he chose to distribute the film himself.

The movie is actually quite good. It starts with three stupid kids going into a strange woman's trailer for sex after contacting her on the Internet, and it spirals into a Waco-like drama.

Michael Parks is especially great as a crazy preacher who has nothing but contempt for sexual deviants. John Goodman is as good as he's been in years as a federal agent who is calling the shots when things get way out of control.

I like how this film switches gears a lot, resulting in some good jolts and surprises. While Smith claims it's a horror film, it doesn't quite fit into that genre. Yes, it has scary elements, including some shocking gore, but it plays out more like a thriller.

Smith shows he has some chops when it comes to creating suspense, while mixing in some of his trademark humor. With Parks and Goodman, he draws out two of the best performances of his directing career.

One major complaint: Something happens in the end, and it is almost—almost—one of the most brilliant movie endings I have ever seen. But it falls a little short thanks to a bit of a cop-out, making it just a very-good ending.

Smith says his next film, a hockey comedy, will be his last. I think that's a mistake. This movie shows that he is capable of so much more than comedy. I hope he reconsiders and keeps going.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There is plenty of stuff for Smith fans, including a commentary, his infamous Sundance speech, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary and more.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (3-Disc Special Edition) (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Since my review of the first Blu-ray release for this show (in March), producer/director Frank Darabont left the series. Actually, it looks like he was forced out.

This is disheartening news. He brought a cinematic scope to this zombie-apocalypse story. I'm sure he was a pain in the ass and drove AMC crazy, but he delivered the goods in the end. I'm sorry to see him go.

The show features zombie work that puts the more-recent George Romero zombie flicks to shame. I used to consider Romero the king of zombies, but he is really blowing it as of late.

Season 2 kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 16, with AMC allegedly cutting the budget and, as mentioned, getting rid of the creative force that is Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption). I have faith that the story will remain intriguing, but will the quality of the show—which had nice production values—be maintained? We'll find out soon.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The set comes in a big box that features a plastic zombie mask. You also get some new features, including the pilot in black and white, commentaries on all six episodes, and new behind-the-scenes features. If you are a fan and didn't buy the first set, indulge immediately. If you did buy the first set and consider yourself a serious collector, you might want to double-dip.

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