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Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
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Four Perfect Killers. One Perfect Crime. Critically acclaimed for its raw power and breathtaking ferocity, it's the brilliant American gangster movie classic from writer-director Quentin Tarantino. They were perfect strangers, assembled to pull off the perfect crime. Then their simple robbery explodes into bloody ambush, and the ruthless killers realize one of them is a police informer. But which one?
Quentin Tarantino came out of nowhere (i.e., a video store in Manhattan Beach, California) and turned Hollywood on its ear in 1992 with his explosive first feature, Reservoir Dogs. Like Tarantino's mainstream breakthrough Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs has an unconventional structure, cleverly shuffling back and forth in time to reveal details about the characters, experienced criminals who know next to nothing about each other. Joe (Lawrence Tierney) has assembled them to pull off a simple heist, and has gruffly assigned them color-coded aliases (Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, Mr. White) to conceal their identities from being known even to each other. But something has gone wrong, and the plan has blown up in their faces. One by one, the surviving robbers find their way back to their prearranged warehouse hideout. There, they try to piece together the chronology of this bloody fiasco--and to identify the traitor among them who tipped off the police. Pressure mounts, blood flows, accusations and bullets fly. In the combustible atmosphere these men are forced to confront life-and-death questions of trust, loyalty, professionalism, deception, and betrayal. As many critics have observed, it is a movie about "honor among thieves" (just as Pulp Fiction is about redemption, and Jackie Brown is about survival). Along with everything else, the movie provides a showcase for a terrific ensemble of actors: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Michael Madsen, Christopher Penn, and Tarantino himself, offering a fervent dissection of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" over breakfast. Reservoir Dogs is violent (though the violence is implied rather than explicit), clever, gabby, harrowing, funny, suspenseful, and even--in the end--unexpectedly moving. (Don't forget that "Super Sounds of the Seventies" soundtrack, either.) Reservoir Dogs deserves just as much acclaim and attention as its follow-up, Pulp Fiction, would receive two years later. --Jim Emerson
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The extras, unfortunately, pale in comparison to the 10th, and this is why you'll probably want to keep the 10th around if you're a filmmaking fan. The 10th edition has a documentary interviewing most of the key players in the film as well as some priceless footage from Tarantino's filmmaking lab workshops at Sundance where he (poorly) played Mr. White(!) These are all missing on the new 15th disc, but the new 15th disc carries over "Reservoir Dolls," the torture scene played out by Reservoir Dogs action figures. The 15th also has retrospective commentaries by some of the cast and crew, 2 movie critics, and a film historian all on separate tracks while watching the movie. Rather interesting too. There are a couple of retrospective documentaries discussing the film's impact on the cinema world. There are also deleted scenes carried over from the 10th, but other than that, mostly fodder to get you excited about Reservoir Dogs, including a short featurette about the new video game.
So, I suppose I would recommend this double dip if you're a hard-core fan of the film, especially with the superior transfer. You can get it at Circuit City for $12.99 this week which is an excellent price for what you get, but I would hold on to the 10th edition for the filmmaking extras which were not carried over. Oh, and if you're into packaging, this is the best packaging I've ever seen. An aluminum gasoline can where the top comes off and the discs are inside in a large matchbook (I believe the matchbook is limited edition). Sick and brilliant.
This is a heist movie, but it's not even about the heist, it's about the aftermath. The movie predominantly takes place in a single warehouse/safe house where after we had just been introduced to the characters in a neutral environment, all hell has broken loose. Through this, the characters are really introduced to the audience proper.
The dialogue is some of the best. Since its a pretty intimate movie, there's a lot of chance for really good exchanges between characters. No one really comes off as being too cool or clever. And characters react how you would assume real people would in intense situations.
There are a lot of long takes, and scenes get a chance to really play out. There aren't any unnecessary cuts or camera switches. The movie is allowed to actually play without the need to have things happen just to keep it from being boring.
It's not a boring movie by any stretch. It's an infamous film in regards to both it's language and violence. And although it could be argued that it's gratuitous, it's really there to serve the story.
Overall, it's a fantastic, and intimate film about paranoia and desperation after a heist. And it put Quentin Tarantino on the map almost immediately upon release. It's still to this day one of my favorite fans, and one that I'd recommend most people seeing.
I do have the standard definition DVD and have watched it numerous times but this will not be a side by side comparison, just a short discussion of the Blu Ray's quality.
VIDEO....The transfer of the video is very clean with strong colors despite a muting of the entire color grading throughout the film. Contrast is excellent and details, even some of the very small ones, are clearly defined. The lines of the tiny tiles in the meet-up building are easy to see without a blurring of lines despite the depth of field which brings them slightly out of focus. I saw no dirt or artifacting at any time in the watching of this Blu Ray. Shot on film, naturally there will be a slight patina of grain but it is difficult to really see and is not a viewing problem in the slightest.
AUDIO....Now this is a bit odd. For English, you have a choice of a Dolby EX 5.1 audio or a lossless DTS HD 6.1. That is not a typing mistake...the audio is 6.1. Okay, that is great but if they are going to upgrade to a 6.1 audio track let there be information for 6 channels plus the sub. There really isn't. The lossless audio provided clear and transparent dialogue that plenty easy to understand. The audio soundtrack is beautifully spread across the front sound stage and the stereo separation of the typical Tarantino soundtrack is simply great, however, there really is no use of the rear sound stage for anything other than some light ambient echo which is barely discernible. The front surrounds do get some discreet directionality from the left and right surrounds but not a whole lot. Yes, this movie has more dialogue than any real action but when the action does come in the second half of the film, though the sub works nicely for the gunshots, there is not much for the home theater to do. The volume levels are just fine so no need to play with your remote's volume control but, maybe the 6.1 track would have worked better on Tarantino's Django Unchained or Kill Bill 1 & 2.
EXTRAS....Some fine deleted scenes and alternate takes of the ear cutting scene. Also a Criminal Minds type profiling of the members of the gang that I found psychologically interesting. From the old SD DVD, there was also included a 'Playing it Fast and Loose' Documentary and an interesting 'Pulp Factoids' extra that pops up little tidbits of info during the course of the film. I discovered this feature after I had finished watching the film. Next time I watch it, I will be sure to have it turned on.
Finally, there were also 2 trailers for other films, 'Crank' and one of the 'Saw' films. I really dislike previews on any DVD whether it be Blu Ray or Standard def. You are being forced to pay for commercials when the disc space could go to an even better resolution feature film that you just paid for.
All my reviews focus solely on the quality of the transfers to Blu Ray of both video and audio and I do hope that this review has been of some help to you in deciding upon your purchase decisions and that I am on the correct path with this type of review.
Thanks for reading.
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