Plot: What’s it about?
When Robert Rodriguez sets his mind to something, odds are that it will happen. Rodriguez is sometimes known as Quentin Tarantino’s partner in crime, working with him on more than one occasion (“Desperado” and “From Dusk ?Til Dawn” come to mind). One thing that has really impressed me about Mr. Rodriguez is his diversity in the movies he chooses to direct and his adoption of the High Definition format for making movies. Quite simply, he shoots what footage he needs and then he and the rest of his “Troublemaker Studios” lackeys go to work and make the movie in his basement (there’s a great featurette on this on the “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” DVD). It’s no secret that “Sin City” has been trying to come to the big screen for some time now and it was finally Rodriguez that landed the deal and brought his own style to the film, yet he managed to retain the darkness of the story that was so faithful to Frank Miller’s outstanding graphic novels. As a comic book reader (as a kid), I was always partial to the more mainstream titles like “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” ? now it seems that every other movie is based on a comic book hero of sorts. I found myself, though, looking forward to seeing “Sin City”. Here’s what I found.
The movie is essentially three stories in one, all of them loosely interwoven with a few overlapping characters. “Sin City”, “The Big Fat Kill” and “That Yellow Bastard” are the three stories that are covered here. In the first installment we meet Marv (Mickey Rourke), a large and brooding man who has the love of his life, Goldie (Jamie King), murdered while she’s asleep. The story is one of revenge and nothing more, but we get inside Marv’s head and experience the actions with him ? even ultimately taking his side. Next up is the story of a ex-photographer (Clive Owen) who mistakenly kills a cop and scrambles to cover it up. Amazing that the power in this installment was held by prostitutes who had an unmentioned thing going with the police in Sin City. This was the slowest of the three segments and probably the one that could benefit from a bit more character development. Lastly we meet Hartigan (Bruce Willis), imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. He corresponds with a Nancy (who later grows up to become the character played by Jessica Alba), someone who he grows to have deep feelings for.
Ok, on the surface ? that’s it. The thing about “Sin City” is that there’s so much below the surface and a repeated viewing isn’t only recommended, it’s almost required. I can see a “Director’s Cut” of this coming our way in the future (more on that later), and this could certainly benefit from it. The movie already has a cult following and is ranked in the Internet Movie Database’s Top 100 movies of all-time. Is it worthy? Well, time usually does the best job of telling that tale. I will say that it’s refreshing to see something like this that is pushing the limits of filmmaking and not all movies based off comic books have to be corny and emotionless. “Sin City” contains a great cast of pretty high-profile actors, though not all are immediately recognizable. What do we need? A longer cut of this movie and I’m sure a sequel is in the works. Fans of Rodriguez will be right at home here for this very accurate adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novels.
Video: How does it look?
As I noted in my review of the standard DVD It’s hard to assign a score to a movie where the characters have yellow skin and the blood is neon white in color ? but?I must! The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer is about as good as it gets when it comes to a HD picture; and suffice it to say that the result is nothing short of spectacular. I couldn’t find any evidence of anything even resembling an error and even if there was something wrong, it would be hard to pinpoint. The movie is black and white (and yellow), which traditionally looks good on screen to begin with. “Sin City” looks amazing and you’d be hard pressed to find anything out there that looks as unique as this does though “The Spirit” is about as close as you’ll come to re-creating this visual look and feel.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack found on the standard DVD has been replaced by a DTS-HD Master Audio track that pumps up the soundtrack a notch or two. Still, this soundtrack has some pretty high points and not too many low ones. The bass guitar that occupies the majority of the score sounds great and suffice it to say there are more than a few gunshots that will keep the surrounds busy. Dialogue is clear and clean ? there’s little left to say except that this sounds nearly as good as it looks.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I will take full credit for Disney issuing a special edition of this movie after my rant on their standard DVD three years ago. Ok, not really but “Sin City” came out on standard DVD in August 2005 and only now are we getting the version that we should have had then. This is a two disc set and that second disc isn’t a “Digital Copy”, it’s actually loaded with supplements. So let’s dive right in on the first disc with not one, but two audio commentaries. The first track is with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. Rodriguez is the chattier of the two and he gives some of the best commentaries around. The two talk of the challenge of making the movie, the visual effects and the origin of the film from the comic books. The second track has old buddies Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and this track is like the first one ? on steroids! Seriously, these two give us way more information than we need to know but that’s the thing with commentary tracks. It’s an information-filled track and one that you might actually need to listen to twice. We do get more bang for our buck though, as that’s what we wanted. Rounding out the supplements on the first disc is an audio-only track of the test screening in Austin, TX (Rodriguez’s home town). I could be wrong, but I think this is the first time something like this has been attempted. Additionally, we get Disney’s “Cine-Explore” feature which is a fancy way of saying “Picture-in-picture commentary track” complete with behind the scene footage.
Moving onto the second disc we find the majority of the supplements and we start out with those dedicated to Robert Rodriguez as he usually has some entertaining things to say. We get his “15 Minute Film School” which he’s done in other DVD’s in which he sits down at his computer, and chops together a scene making it look so ridiculously easy that we hit ourselves over the head in sheer frustration. We get “All Green Screen Version” which is fairly self-explanatory; we get to see footage of some selected scenes in the raw and in front of the green screen, which was key to this film. “The Long Take” and “Sin City: Live in Concert” are also included as is Rodriguez’s popular “10 Minute Cooking School” which is always a nice treat. Rodriguez ends this, as always, by telling us “Not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to f%#k”. Truer words have never been spoken ? I guess. We get an interview with Frank Miller and how he was convinced to do the film and an interview with Quentin Tarantino as well. There are some featurettes devoted to the cars of the film, the props, and special effects and of course the make-up. But?we’re not done just yet. We also get the unrated version of the movie (containing some 20 more minutes of footage) and another feature exclusive to Blu-ray entitled “Kill ?Em Good” which is an interactive comic book with four chapters only this time you control the action. For those that were waiting for the definitive edition of “Sin City”, I’d say your wait is over.