Pulp Fiction: "The Best film Ever Made?" Or at least that's what many say, but is Quentin Tarantino’s iconic crime drama black comedy truly one of, if not, the best films ever made? Well, let's find out!
Of all the films that are beyond classic in terms of popularity and acclaim, Pulp Fiction is one of the last ones that I finally got around to watching. And as with any film that has been praised beyond imagination, there is always that question of just how overhyped the film might be. Thankfully, to my surprise, Pulp Fiction might be overrated, but that does not mean it isn't one of my new favorite films!
Here's the thing about Pulp Fiction's popularity. Unlike some other popular, and often overhyped, films, Pulp Fiction, on a surface level, is entertaining, witty, memorable, and fun, assuming it's your kind of movie. If you dig deeper, there are theories that may offer something more, but ultimately, Pulp Fiction is a piece of entertainment that tries to entertain first and foremost. Most importantly, Pulp Fiction is that it is not pretentious. It knows that's a fun and witty take on the noir genre of old. There might be some deeper meaning, but understanding that is merely a bonus, not the crux of the appeal. It is all style and cool factor, and Tarantino knows that is all it is and all it needed to be. It never wants you to think it is better or more important than it is. Compared to other "classics," I respect the film for that.
Genre: Drama, Black Comedy Crime,
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Running Time: 154 minutes
MMPA rating: R
The Good: Samuel L. Jackson steals every second of screen time, The quotes!, The dialogue!, All-star cast equals all-star performances, Tarantino style, One of the funniest scenes ever, Undeniable cool factor, Snappy editing, What's in the briefcase?, Brilliant humor, A few suspenseful scenes, Fun soundtrack,
The Bad: Some superfluous scenes, "The Gold Watch" is noticeably weaker, Aimless at times, Not for everyone,
Warning: Pulp Fiction is rated "R" for profanity, violence, and other very mature and likely disturbing content.
Plot: 9.0/10- Pulp Fiction is notoriously out of order with its narrative structure. However, the structure is never confusing, and while it works, it feels as though it is structured out-of-order so that the film is bookended by the best parts, which most certainly worked to leave me off on an extremely high note. Unfortunately, the only drawback is that we know certain characters live past certain scenes, and therefore, the tension is lost at the end, although the entertaining dialogue more than makes up for it.
Time for a breakdown of the story; the parts following Samuel L. Jackson's character are an easy 10/10; I would rewatch those scenes again right now. Uma Thurman and John Travolta parts are weaker and somewhat superfluous to the narrative, yet still entertain with the witty exchanges. And finally, the middle part of the film following Bruce Willis is noticeably weaker. It is still good, yet it lacks some of the cool factor and wit of the other scenes. At points, it even drags a bit, with a few scenes seemingly unnecessary. This might sound a bit nitpicky, but due to the intentionally disjointed narrative, it feels like a "great" short film between two near masterpieces of entertaining dialogue and wit. Despite my criticism, there is little to nothing about the film that's anything less than "great," and the dialogue contains some of the best lines of all-time.
Characterization: 9.3/10- What makes all the characters great is how the simple dialogue humanizes them. Jules Winnfield, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is easily the highlight of the film. He has a believable character arc, and anytime the character speaks, the dialogue is absurdly entertaining. Vincent Vega is a fun character, and if you dig deep into the film, there is an interesting parallel, yet opposite, character development compared to Jules. Mia Wallace, Butch Coolidge, Winston Wolfe, Ringo, and Marsellus Wallace each have their part to play in the narrative, and while each character isn't particularly deep, each one is most definitely memorable and distinct thanks to Tarantino's writing and the actors' performances.
Direction: 9.2/10- Pulp Fiction commented Quentin Tarantino’s stylish and slick director with the undeniable cool factor that made him famous. The direction is fiendishly simple, yet that's it charm. Each scene is framed effectively to capture the dialogue. The editing to the licensed music tracks is top notch. It might not be the most stylishly directed Tarantino flick, but it might be his most streamlined and slick film, albeit a bit self indulgent at times.
Acting: 9.9/10- This is Samuel L. Jackson's quintessential iconic role for a darn good reason, because he is easily the best part of the film. Sam L. just kills it in every single scene as he delivers the witty dialogue to perfection. I could watch him and John Travolta talk about nothing all day long and it would still be entertaining. Travolta is quite good as well in his role, as he plays off Jackson excellently. Uma Thurman is great, albeit a little flat compared to the other cast members. Bruce Willis gives the typically strong performance that you would expect from Willis, nothing more, nothing less. Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Christopher Walken, and several others round out the all-star cast.
Soundtrack: 9.5/10- Classic music from multiple decades is used to perfection in the film's narrative, most of which is diegetically (aka played within the narrative). The editing of the music to many of the scenes is spot on!
Humor: 9.0/10- Pulp Fiction is not a comedy per se. However, there are moments of humor, mostly black comedy, aka dark humor, which are hysterical! Well, hysterical if you find someone randomly getting their head blown off funny, because *Minor Spoilers* "Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face" is one of the funniest scenes in movie history. I laughed until it hurt at that one! *End Spoiler* But generally, the parts following Travolta and Jackson's characters are witty and often humorous.
Entertainment Value: 9.5/10- Thanks to the structure, the film opens on ends on its highest notes, which left me feeling satisfied. Certain parts of the film are seriously near masterpiece level of dialogue exchange, while other parts do drag a bit. And despite a scene that is a bit too disturbing for my taste and a few more f-bombs than I'd like, Pulp Fiction is definitely a film worth watching again, especially the parts with Sam L. and Travolta.
Overall: 9.3/10- Despite the superfluous material and one weaker story treads, Pulp Fiction is undoubtedly one of my new favorite movies. It's entertaining, witty, darkly comedic, and all around fun. Sure, Pulp Fiction isn't perfect by any means. However, Quentin Tarantino crafted an incredibly cool film and one that's most definitely worth watching, assuming you are old enough.
Closing comments: Honestly, my rating might be higher than it even deserves, but that's the appeal of Pulp Fiction. It's better than the sum of its parts. Objectively, it's a great film, yet when you combine everything together; it is a classic with wit, style, and unforgettable moments! So, if you haven't seen it, grab you a "Royale with Cheese" and enjoy one tasty burger while watching Pulp Fiction.
Recommended for 18+: Dialogue fans, Crime fans, Cinefiles,
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