"Sin City: Extended & Unrated" 2-Disc Blu-ray Review
April 13, 2009 by Zach Demeter
Nowadays not much is said about Sin City. While it remains one of the most critically acclaimed and well received graphic novel adaptations to date, the film, now four years since its original release in 2005, just isn’t talked about much. Co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have since gone on and done their own films (though, surprisingly, neither of their separate efforts reach the level of acclaim or box office receipts that Sin City brought in). Now with the sequel (and sequel to that) apparently beginning production, fans can help that anticipation go a bit smoother with the release of Sin City on Blu-ray. With all of the content from the two-disc Recut edition (and then some), fans can witness the stunning visuals of Miller’s adaptation in full high-definition.
Sin City is based on Frank Miller’s popular series of graphic novels and features an all-star crew both behind and in front of the camera. Acclaimed director Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse, Spy Kids) teamed with Mr. Miller to co-direct an all-star cast that includes Bruce Willis, Oscar-nominee Mickey Rourke (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for: The Wrestler, 2008), Clive Owen, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson, in this riveting tale of killers, cops, hookers and hit men, all inhabiting one very dangerous, very sexy city. Sin City debuted in theatres in 2005 to critical acclaim and box office success and, like Mr. Miller’s graphic novels, continues to grow in its fan base. Now these fans, and anyone who loves explosive, groundbreaking filmmaking, can see and hear the movie like never before with the ultimate in high definition picture and sound.
I can remember eagerly awaiting Sin City’s home video release (I never made it to the theatrical run). Then the film came out on DVD and…it was barebones. So I resisted watching it and held out for the two-disc ultimate recut edition which finally came out months later and…man, I was blown away. It wasn’t just the visuals of it, but the storytelling and just the way it was presented and merged together into one big movie. Granted, it works better when you separate the stories (and that’s the only way I watch it now), but even as a movie, with characters disappearing and reappearing in each others stories…it’s just a great little collection of shorts merged into a big pile of fun.
While the appeal of it has worn off some (especially since Miller copied the visual style for The Spirit which, while I enjoyed to an extent, was a major letdown when you shelve it next to Sin City), the enjoyment I can still get from this film is still there. Paired with the pulp visuals and sometimes-campy-sometimes-brutal dialogue (“Kill him good for me, Marv” is a sample of corny and then is later followed up with “You can scream now if you want to” which makes everything all awesome again in dialogue-land), there is just a ton to love about Sin City, and the majority of it is the talent involved.
Before Mickey Rourke busted out with The Wrestler, he was last known for his role in Sin City as Marv, the hard-ass who kept taking a beating. Even now with him once again in the spotlight, it’s hard to see Rourke under all of that make-up. Still, everyone’s performance in this film is simply fantastic, with there really being no weak link along the line (you could maybe peg Jessica Alba, but her soft voice can be chalked up to her characters inexperience, really). Everyone does a remarkable job, from Ethan Hawke, to Bruce Will and a rather humorous looking Clive Owen (considering the hair style he has now, the mop top Dwight is a sight to see), the film sports no shortage of talent to gaze upon.
Really, as over-the-top violent as the film gets, it’s all about having fun with it, as the violence is so grotesque at times it’s comical. The film is just about girls, violence, and guns, some of Frank Miller’s favorite things, and it’s easy to see why the film made as much back on its paltry budget as it did. It’s really just a fantastic effort all around from everyone involved and while it’s appeal is likely limited to the male audience, the entertainment it provides is really unprecedented.
And…the visuals. This, more than anything I think, sealed the deal for many of those who saw the film. Critics were likely bowled over by what their eyes were seeing than by what their brain or ears were processing, as none of the story or dialogue was anything to win many over. It was the unique visual style, shot entirely on green screen that helped make the film what it ultimately was. It will be copied, sure, but the stark whites, the splashes of color and the marriage of the two are what this film will go down as being popular for. Really you could watch the film muted and be blown away by what your eyes take in, it’s just that good.
Overall it’s a great set of short stories. As a film I still feel it’s a bit of a hodgepodge and weak mess, but when you split them up and view them individually, it’s a whole other world. Still, it’s fun to see them weave in and out of one another, although the disappearance of Bruce Willis so early in the film makes you forget about him and by the time he re-appears at the end, it’s almost like an afterthought. Which, again, is why I prefer the individual films—there’s a better flow. But definitely watch them as one film first, as despite enjoying them more separately, watching them mix together does have its benefits, especially when characters from one another pop in and out. Either way you go, however, it’s Highly Recommended.
Much like the DVD release, Sin City saw a barebones Blu-ray release before this loaded two-disc set, but it was limited to Canada only. On top of that, the visuals were a little off in terms of compression (it was crammed to fit on a 25gb disc, whereas they’re given a full 50gb disc [for each disc] to breathe), so those who held out for this release will be more than satisfied with the results. Unfortunately for those who owned the big and thick two-disc DVD set, the slimmed down Blu-ray packaging is less appealing. Still, the cover combines the various one-sheets for the film into one big poster and the rear cover is so loaded with text, you might not know where to begin. Inside the discs is a bit hokey looking, with a large amount of blue art (for the Blu-ray, yes we get it Buena Vista—you can stop now. Just don’t go to a solid grey wash like you have been doing for some releases) to accompany the small image of Hartigan and Marve on each disc. Menus are the same for both discs, but feature cool little snippets of moving Frank Miller art as the menus load and such.
Video…ah the video. Buena Vista/Dimension/Miramax/Whoever starts the description on the back of the cover with “If ever a movie was meant to be experienced in high definition, Frank Miller’s Sin City is guilty on all counts!” Aside from the horrible joke (seriously, who wrote that?), it’s pretty much dead on—this film looks gorgeous on Blu-ray and may be a demo disc for me, to be perfectly honest. Comparing the transfer against the complaints fans had about the Canadian release, I see none of the shimmering or moving compression that plagued a few scenes in the old release. Here, the AVC encoded 1.85:1 transfer is immaculate, filling the screen up with deep blacks, brilliant whites and splashes of red, yellow and more red. Yellow Bastard looks positively sickening and the blood that pools out of Marv’s mouth as he’s executed is deep red. Since this film is sold mostly by its visuals, it’s important that they got the transfer right and on all accounts, I fully believe they did.
The audio mix, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is also a force to be reckoned with. Gun fire, screams, cars…they all fill the room and when coupled with Robert Rodriguez’s brilliant score (something I failed to mention earlier…it really is probably one of my favorite musical scores of all time...the theme especially just matches this film perfectly), the surrounds really just come alive in this mix. There seems to be a constant immersion of sorts when it comes to this film, whether it’s the moody soundtrack or a piece of dialogue that whips around the room, the mix is impeccable from start to finish. Also included is a Spanish DD5.1 track, as well as English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
All of the extras are ported over from the previous two-disc DVD release, with the only extras in high-definition being the two new Blu-ray exclusives, which I’ll touch upon here in a bit. First up, however, is the full features list:
Disc One (Theatrical Cut) Features:
• All new Cine-Explore – Innovative Blu-ray technology allows viewers to experience a uniquely interactive visual commentary that pushes the envelope. When selected, see picture-in-picture green screen footage and original art synced with the filmmakers’ commentary.
• 2.0 Commentary with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
• 2.0 Commentary with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
• 5.1 Audio Track Featuring a Recording of the Austin Audience Reaction
Disc Two (Unrated, Recut Extended Version) Features:
• All new “Kill ‘em Good” Interactive Comic Book - Dive into a visually stunning interactive game that puts you in the driver’s seat. Exploiting the Blu-ray format in ways never before seen, you finish the story – with guns blazing!
• Four Chapters:
o Chapter One- That Yellow Bastard
o Chapter Two- The Customer Is Always Right
o Chapter Three- The Hard Goodbye
o Chapter Four- The Big Fat Kill
• Rodriguez Special Features:
o 15-Minute Film School
o All Green Screen Version
o The Long Take
o Sin City: Live in Concert
o 10-Minute Cooking School
• How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller To Make The Film
• Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino
• A Hard Top With A Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City
• Booze, Broads, and Guns: The Props of Sin City
• Making the Monsters: Special Effects Make-up
• Trench Coats & Fishnets: The Costumes of Sin City
• Teaser & Theatrical Trailer
So yeah, there are still plenty of extras to check out here and none of them disappoint. Well, aside from the new Blu-ray goodies, which are kind of drab. The Cine-Explore is a cool little feature to flick on, though since it auto-plays with the Miller/Rodriguez commentary track, you can’t shut it off. The Kill Em’ Good extra is kind of cool at first, with full Marv voiceover from the film put to Miller’s artwork, but the instant I realized it was a game I controlled with the up, down, left, right arrows on my Blu-ray remote, I pretty much lost interest. I mean really…this movie 17+…who is over 17 and wants to play a game like that?
Aside from that, the rest of the extras are all fantastic and well worth checking out. The separate chapters with added footage are a must to check out, as are Rodriguez’s personal crop of extras. Overall a fantastic set and one that comes Highly Recommended and a Must Own for fans—the video and audio is just that good.
Sin City arrives on Blu-ray on April 21st.