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Dimension Films presents
Sin City (2005)

"She smells like angels ought to smell. The perfect woman. The goddess. Goldie. She says her name is Goldie."
- Marv (Mickey Rourke)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: August 15, 2005

Stars: Mickey Rourke
Other Stars: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Nick Stahl, Jaime King, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Carla Gugino, Michael Clarke Duncan, Alexis Bledel, Devon Aoki, Powers Boothe, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Elijah Wood, Frank Miller, Makenzie Vega
Director: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller

MPAA Rating: R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including language
Run Time: 02h:03m:53s
Release Date: August 16, 2005
UPC: 786936291568
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A-A- C

DVD Review

Having been a Frank Miller fan for a long, long time, I had always considered his series of extremely hardboiled Sin City graphic novels to be something that could never, ever be successfully made into a film. Plenty of his strongest works—his reinvention of the Batman mythos, his groundbreaking work with characters like Spider-Man, DareDevil and Electra—relied more on stories and character evolution than his distinctive artistic style, but with Sin City, the stark black-and-white drawings literally exploded with rich noir shadows, gruff dialogue and lots of violence.

But we live in a different time now—years since the initial release of Miller's Sin City books—witnessed by the completely CG world of films like Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow, where actors were shot entirely on green screen and all backgrounds and sets were added in post production. Director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, From Dusk 'Till Dawn) has taken this advancement in technology, and working closely with Miller (who gets co-director credits here), has created what I always thought couldn't be done: not simply adapt a comic book, but capture every element and nuance of the original work, and bring it to life by adding movement to the already expressive drawings. In raw terms: art brought to life.

Rodriguez took three of Miller's Sin City books—all set in the crime-riddled, shadowy and perpetually rainy Basin City—and has strung them together, daisychained by overlapping characters to tell separate stories about corruption, doublecrosses and murder that are rich with coarse noir dialogue and graphic violence that straddles the line between being purely over-the-top, layered with broad swipes of gallows humor. Towering hulk Marv (Mickey Rourke), honest cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis), and vengeful Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen) are the leads for the individual tales, and the multitude of character crossovers tie them all together in vague ways, such as Jessica Alba as stripper Nancy Callahan or Brittany Murphy's cocky waitress Shellie.

There are so many perfect moments in Sin City—the reflective glasses of Elijah Wood's murderous Kevin or an aerial shot of Hartigan's jail cell—that are lifted directly from Miller's books, that one could compare screenshots with the comic and actually have trouble differentiating between the two. It's actually kind of difficult to take in all of the visuals that Rodriguez has put together in just one sitting, much like reading one of Miller's books requires multiple reads to fully digest. This is dark noir comic art of the highest order.

What Rodriguez and Miller (and guest director Quentin Tarantino) have done is really quite stunning, creating a black-and-white comic book world with occasional color accents that is so ridiculously hardboiled and violent it would almost be comical—that is if it weren't so incessantly gorgeous to take in. Whether it is, the remarkable transformation of Mickey Rourke into the towering, bandaged killer Marv, the army of well-armed prostitutes including Devon Aoki's sword-wielding assassin Miho or the sight of thug Benicio Del Toro chewing on his own severed hand, Sin City is noirishly luxurious in every single frame.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer from Dimension beautifully exploits the stylized richness of Rodriguez's spot-on recreation of Miller's stark black-and-white imagery, and as the film was shot nearly entirely on green screen, it exists in a completely artificial world with backgrounds that look remarkably sharp more often than not.

Character close-ups of human actors reveal a great level of detail, though there are some minor haloing issues and a bit of detail loss—appearing noticeably soft in a few spots—but as a live-action comic book the imperfections almost seem like intentional artistic elements rather than flaws. The small bursts of color—the blue of Becky's eyes or the red of Marv's blood-covered face—accent the effect of Miller's trademark shadowy pencil sketch palette, and more prolonged swatches, such as Goldie's skintight dress or the bile hue of Yellow Bastard carry equal dramatic impact, looking natural and unnatural at the same time.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio options feature a pair of strong choices, in either Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or DTS. Watching without a subwoofer would be a mistake, because this one really makes great use of the .LFE channel, whether it be Mickey Rourke's wall-rattling narration or the frequent bouts of explosive gunfire. Bouncing between the two gives a slight edge to the DTS presentation, offering a consistently richer, tighter timbre to character voices. Rear channels get used frequently, creating an encompassing soundstage, such as Marv's big fight with the police early in the film where bullets and broken glass come out of every corner.

A French language 2.0 dub is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mindhunters, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Spider-Man: The '67 Collection
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The promise of a fully loaded special edition release of Sin City exists in the very near future, so in the meanwhile Dimension has issued this relatively barebones version anchored by an assortment of different slipcovers featuring different pairs of characters.

The only real extra for now is a brief making-of piece (08m:32s), featuring Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Brittany Murphy, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Clive Owen, and Mickey Rourke, in full Marv makeup. Miller admits to being startled at the beauty of the final product, and amidst the comments there are some shots of the actors working on green screen sets.

The disc is cut into 28 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

Even though a special edition is very likely, for now this release is a steal at $15. This is a visually innovative and exciting film—coupled with a loud, booming DTS track—that isn't just a simple adaptation of a comic book, it is a living, breathing revelation.

Highly recommended.


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