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Dimension Films presents
Sin City (Recut, Extended, Unrated) (2005)

"This is blood for blood. And by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all or nothing days. They're back. There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war."
- Marv (Mickey Rourke)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: December 27, 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, Quentin Tarantino

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for ustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including language
Run Time: 02h:27m:00s
Release Date: December 13, 2005
UPC: 786936692143
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+A-A- A+

DVD Review

There has been a lot of ballyhoo about this extended version of Sin City, because on paper the new take runs approximately 147 minutes, while the original theatrical cut was a mere 124 minutes. I'm no math whiz, but that comes out to around twenty minutes plus of extra runtime, though in actuality this ends up being like one of those optical illusions where what you see isn't always what you get.

It may seem a tad confusing, but instead of one long film made up of four loosely interwoven stories running longer, director Robert Rodriguez has chosen to split things out into four separate pieces, each with their own separate opening and closing credit sequences. That's where the bulk of the extra runtime comes from, and what happens in terms of actual new footage there only really ends up being about four or five minutes. But don't bitch too loudly, because from a purely artistic standpoint, the end product now matches the vision of comic god Frank Miller even more so.

The heart and soul, no matter how it's sliced and diced, is still here. In spades. Rodriguez took 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.

And for this "recut, extended, unrated" version, the stories now come divvied as mini-films unto themselves, watchable in any order you wish. The original theatrical release is still here on this set (on disc one), but over on disc two is where Rodriguez reassembles them as The Customer Is Always Right (08m:25s), The Hard Goodbye (40m:57s), That Yellow Bastard (47m:26s) and The Big Fat Kill (44m:45s). And as I said earlier, do not break out into a cold sweat nitpicking about how many measurable feet of new footage actually show up here, because the opportunity to see these tales more as they were originally written (as seperate stories, that is) has to count for something just as vitally important. And we get a little more Miho, too.

This is pitch black noir, with characters so ridiculously pulpy and violent that it is really quite stunning and a bit overwhelming to take it in at one time. Another plus for the four separate stories concept. In what is simply an amazing technical achievement, Rodriguez has moved a mountain by creating a black-and-white comic book world with occasional color accents (hello, Alexis Bledel!) that is about as hardboiled as anything can possibly be hardboiled.

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. Rodriguez has said that he storyboarded every single frame in the film, meaning he looked to Miller's work and opted to use that vision for the look of the film. 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.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Both versions are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfers (the theatrical cut is identical to that found on the earlier barebones version) and both beautifully exploit 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 closeups of human actors reveal a great level of detail, though there are some minor halo 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
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: For the theatrical cut, we're given the same Dolby Digital 5.1 surround or DTS mixes found on the previous release; the recut version drops the DTS, and goes with a solitary Dolby Digital 5.1 track that matches the theatrical cut blow for blow. But that's a good thing. Watching this 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.

The French language 2.0 dub found on the single disc version has been dropped here.

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
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Documentaries
10 Featurette(s)
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis, Austin Audience
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. 200-page Frank Miller graphic novel
Extras Review: Gone are the character covers this time around, and the color scheme here is basic black for packaging. Very stylish, indeed. A thick slipcase holds a foldout case that houses two discs on one side, and a heavy-duty 200 page Frank Miller The Hard Goodbye graphic novel on the other; if you're one of those sheltered types who've never seen a Miller book then this easily reinforce how dead on Robert Rodriguez came with the visual scope of Sin City.

Disc one, in addition to a trailer and teaser, carries the theatrical cut, as well as three commentary tracks. Well, it's technically two commentaries and something called the Austin Audience track, which has a theater full of live reaction to the film's premiere, making this sort of like having a movie theater crowd in your living room. Kinda fun in small doses, actually.

The formal commentaries pair up Rodriguez with Frank Miller, and then he sits with Quentin Tarantino (and an uncredited appearance by Bruce Willis). Rodriguez, even by himself, gives great commentary, and with Miller there is a sense of full circle completeness, and they cover the film from nearly every conceivable angle. There is really something in the way Rodriguez transcends that invisible barrier between just being a director and someone who can connect with film fans, and his concise outpouring of information ranks him, at least as far as I'm concerned, as one of the best. Tarantino (chatty rascal that he is) almost takes a backseat on his track, allowing Rodriguez full berth to carry the conversation for much of the time. Willis' appearance happens late in the track, and it was interesting to hear him talk about how everyone had to "accept the process" of this unusual technical project.

The rest of disc one consists of six "making of" pieces (the longest clocking in just under 11 minutes), each looking at a very specific element of the production. How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller To Make The Film (05m:42) has Rodriguez explaining how he was able to get Miller's buy in after a tough hardsell, and his grand plan to "turn cinema into a book". Next up comes at look at the involvement of Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino (07m:14s) professing that "film is my thing", while A Hard Top With A Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City (07m:36s) reiterates why Dwight needed such a big trunk, and how the lack of a specific time period for the film made assembling the vehicles a real trip. Booze, Broads and Guns: The Props of Sin City (10m:58s), the longest of the lot, has prop master Steve Joyner lobbing kudos to Frank Miller's detailed vision of weaponry, and we get a glimpse of production drawings for Yellow Bastard's knife and Miho's deadly blades. Making The Monsters: Special Effects Make-Up (09m:05s) gives visual effects supervisor Greg Nicotero centerstage, and the capper is look at how Mickey Rourke became a walking, talking Marv. Things wrap with Trenchcoats and Fishnets: The Costumes of Sin City (07m:35s), and as with the weapons, it is Miller's artwork that directly influenced the noir outfits throughout Basin City.

The final supplement on disc one is something called Sin-Chroni-City, a fairly noble but ultimately unwieldy interactive segment where one can find where characters cross paths by selecting a location and event. It's narrated by Frank Miller, so that's cool, but the presentation leaves a little to be desired.

Disc 2, oddly enough, holds the new recut, extended, unrated version, which is broken down into four separate stories that can be watched in any sequence you wish. Your viewing options are The Customer Is Always Right (08m:25s), The Hard Goodbye (40m:57s), That Yellow Bastard (47m:26s) and The Big Fat Kill (44m:45s).

15 Minute Flic School (12m:25s)—which doesn't quite make it 15 minutes—has Rodriguez explaining the intricate work involved with the lighting and digital photography for Sin City, as well more green screen talk. The next piece is a hoot, and it's the All Green Version (12m:28s), in which the film is sped up 800% and shown as raw elements with no color correction. Yep, it's time to watch the entire film in less than 13 minutes, and if this doesn't showcase all the post-production visual work that went into this, then nothing will, my friend. The Long Take (17m:45s) has guest director Quentin Tarantino working with Clive Owen's Dwight and the severely wounded Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy, and in case you were wondering which scene Mr. Kill Bill helmed, well, this is it.

Sin City: Live In Concert (09m:19s) features a wholly unnecessary performance by Bruce Willis and The Accelerators at some sort of charity event in Austin, but Rodriguez (as indicated in his intro) seems to like it a lot, and he shot in hi-def, to boot. And what Robert Rodriguez DVD would be complete without yet another installment of 10 Minute Cooking School (06m:25s), this time tackling the tasty late-night/early morning stack of fairly-easy-looking-to-prepare Sin City Breakfast Tacos.

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

This comprehensive two-disc special edition doesn't disappoint, as it includes the original theatrical release as well as the recut version, which now consists of four separate stories rather than one long, intertwined one. And if that weren't enough, two solid commentaries, an educational set of supplements and a 200-page Frank Miller graphic novel seal the deal.

Highly recommended.

 


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