- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Portuguese & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish
- Region: ABC (All Regions)
- Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino
- Actors: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Alexis Bledel, Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino, Mickey Rourke
- Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment/Dimension
- Release Date: April 21, 2009
- List Price: $35.99
Portions of this review were previously published in our Sin City [Canadian Import] Blu-ray Review
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
Sin City, the dark, gritty film adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novels took the cinematic world by storm upon its release in 2005. Up until that point, Frank Miller had been most noted for his 1982 graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, which resurrected the caped crusader from the campy world of spoof television series and men-in-tights and along with other graphic novels of the 80’s such as Arkham Asylum helped to recreated the myth of Batman and inspire Tim Burton’s Batman film from 1989.
Frank Miller, however, had also penned seven even darker graphic novels throughout the 1980’s — the Sin City series of novels. Taking for the themes the dark underbelly of the seedy world of a place called Basin City, the term ‘graphic’ is indeed a fitting designation. Sin City never rose to the heights of comic book popularity, but it carved out its own niche of comic book noir and director Robert Rodriguez has done well bringing it to the big screen.
Hunting down Frank Miller to aid him in adapting three of the seven novels to films, the director went as far as to give up his membership in the DGA (Director’s Guild of America) when the guild took umbrage at Miller being given a co-directing credit. The results of the decision were well worth it, Sin City is pure film noir, crime pulp, and one of the best — if not the best — comic book adaptations brought to film.
Rodriguez’ years spent perfecting his craft as a digital filmmaker payoff as he brilliantly captures the stark black and white imagery of Miller’s original novels in the four stories interpreted here in an intertwined fashion, beginning with the prologue and epilogue The Customer is Always Right. Miller’s fourth graphic novel, That Yellow Bastard, is the second story on tap, split into two segments. Starring Bruce Willis, it tells of a gruff old detective Hartigan who rescues a little girl from the sexually depraved son of a corrupt politician, only to be betrayed by his partner. After spending years locked away in prison, Hartigan is set free, and he goes to find the now 19-year-old Nancy who had been sending him letters under the alias ‘Cordelia’ the whole time. Unwittingly, he leads ‘that yellow bastard’ straight to her; he thought he’d killed him, but he was only severely wounded.
Next up is The Hard Goodbye, with Mickey Rourke as Marv, a rough-and-tumble guy with a disfigured face who spends a night of bliss with a beautiful blonde named Goldie (Jaime King) only to awake with hr murdered in his bed the next morning. Marv then goes on a violent spree to find Goldie’s killer, even eventually involving her twin sister and his gorgeous parole officer, Lucille (Carla Gugino). The search eventually leads him to farm where Marv comes up against a cannibalistic killer named Kevin (Elijah Wood) who proves to be the one opponent Marv can’t handle.
Finally, there is The Big Fat Kill, which finds Clive Owen as Dwight, a cop who has it really bad for a hooker named Gail (Rosario Dawson). Dwight gets embroiled in a situation with one of his girlfriends, Shellie (Brittany Murphy), ex-boyfriends after he roughs her up, and ends up trailing him, only to find that the ex, Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) was a cop. Unfortunately for Dwight, this is after one of Gail’s patrolling girls has killed him. Now, Dwight, already straddling the fence justice and corruption, is drawn into a fight between the prostitutes of Sin City and the corrupt forces that want to run them out and take over the street — violently.
Sin City is unquestionably a dark and thought provoking tour de force. There is an undeniable charm to its imagery and bleak and violent tone that draws one in. It makes no apologies for its unhindered lack of moral questioning. It is grey and it is all there in black and white. It is everything the best noir should be, and it is a modern classic of cinema.
The Recut version on Disc 2 of this collection re-envisions Sin City into the separate, yet still intertwined, stories that they were originally intended as by Frank Miller and places them in chronological order. It also finally reassembles the short story “The Customer is Always Right” into one piece, instead of using it to bookend the film. Furthermore, Recut reinserts additional scenes that were removed from the theatrical release, and they feel perfectly at home now.
If you ever wanted to test how well your HD display was at reproducing blacks, this is certainly the title to do it with. This 1.85:1 AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 transfer has superb, obsidian blacks yet maintains a fine level of shadow delineation. Foreground and background detail is stellar, as every drop of ubiquitous rain in Sin City is visible and fine textures are all reproduced flawlessly, from the wrinkles on people’s faces to the creases on their leather jackets. Then, of course, there are the occasional flashes of bold, vibrant primary colors that absolutely jump from the screen. For a film that relies so little on color, Sin City on Blu-ray looks absolutely three-dimensional in this fine transfer.
It’s certainly not scientific by any means, but I’d say this transfer from Buena Vista Home Entertainment/Dimension Home Video looks superior to the Alliance release previously reviewed here on TheaterByte. It is sharper and more detailed, with deeper blacks and better contrast.
This US release of Sin City on BD is provided with the original English language track on a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless encoding in addition to Portuguese and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 versions.
From the beginning, Sin City’s lossless 5.1 mix asserts itself as an all-encompassing fully engrossing wonder of sound design. All six channels are used aggressively as the surround channels are filled with the perfect amount of ambience that adds cohesiveness to the entire mix as well as discrete, directional sound effects, such as thunder, gunfire, sirens and more. The front channels are used effectively well, following action on and off screen. Low frequency extension is full, with punches landing thunderously, gunshots booming and explosions rattling the floorboards. Again, this US release seems to be mastered in superior fashion to the Canadian release from Alliance, with some clipping in the dialogue that was apparent on the Canadian release absent here, and also smoother sounding high frequencies and slightly more extended lows. This another exceptional, reference soundmix and mastering job from Disney’s Buena Vista.
They haven’t skimped on the supplements for this highly anticipated two-disc release of Sin City, and although Disc 1 has some interesting extras, Disc 2 is where the real bounty is to be had. Unfortunately, nothing is available in high definition, even though Rodriguez makes reference to capturing some of the footage in HD.
The supplements available on this release are:
- Audio Commentary by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
- Audio Commentary by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
- 5.1 Audio Track featuring a recording of the Austin audience reaction.
- Cine-Explore — This is a great feature that allows viewers to watch the film with the audio commentaries while it seamlessly branches between the finished scenes and the green screen filming, and also shows the original graphic novel frames in comparison to the actual shots.
- D-Box — This title is D-Box Motion Code enabled.
- Kill ‘Em Good: Interactive Comic Book (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1) — Frank Miller’s Graphic Novel, “The Hard Goodbye,” Brought to life. — This BD-Java based interactive version of Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Hard Goodbye” allows you to join in on the action by driving getaway cars and more.
- How it Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to Make the Film (1.33:1; 480i/60) — Director Robert Rodriguez tells of filming “The Customer is Always Right” as a sort of prrof-of-concept in order to convince Frank Miller to agree to allowing Sin City to be adapted to the screen.
- Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino — A unique look at the “shockingly harmonious” union of Tarantino, Rodriguez, and Miller (1.33:1; 480i/60)
- A Hard Top with a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City — Find out how the distinctive cars from the film were brought together (1.33:1; 480i/60) — There were 21 principal cars used on the film and all the different, mainly classic 1950’s models are described.
- Booze, Broads, and Guns: The Props of Sin City — Tour the prop shop where the unreal world of Sin City is made real (1.33:1; 480i/60) — This featurette looks behind the scenes of the prop shop for Sin City’s production. Interestingly, most all of the props for the film were produced in-house. Another interesting piece of trivia is that the swords that the character Miho uses in the film are the Hitori Hanzo swords from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.
- Making the Monsters: The Special Effects Make-Up — Special makeup effects supervisor, Greg Nicotero, transforms the cast into the comic books. (1.33:1; 480i/60)
- Trench Coats & Fishnets: The Costumes of Sin City — Get into the unique gear that defines each character. (1.33:1; 480i/60) — One of the unique challenges of designing the wardrobe for Sin City was finding materials that would reflect enough a lot of light to help define the edges of characters.
- Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; 480i/60)
- Teaser (1.33:1; 480i/60)
Rodriguez Special Features — Director Robert Rodriguez takes you inside the astonishing world of Sin City. (1.33:1; 480i/60):
- 15-Minute Flic School (1.33:1; 480i/60) — Rodriguez discusses the techniques he used to capture the stylized look in Sin City.
- The All Green Screen Version (1.33:1; 480i/60) — The entire film in green screen without any special effects added sped up 80%.
- The Long Take — 14 uninterrupted minutes of Tarantino’s segment (1.33:1; 480i/60) — A behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Quentin Tarantino’s segment of Sin City
- Sin City: Live in Concert — “Sin City Live” night at Antones — Filmmakers, cast, and crew party. (1.33:1; 480i/60) — Bruce Willis’ band performs “Devil Woman” at a charity party held by the Sin City cast and crew.
- 10-Minute Cooking School (1.33:1; 480i/60) — Rodriguez demonstrates his recipe for breakfast tacos, complete with homemade flour tortillas.
The Definitive Word
Sin City is one of the most successful adaptations of a graphic novel ever to the big screen. Disney continues to amaze with their Blu-ray releases, and this Recut & Extended release on Blu-ray from their Buena Vista Home Entertainment division packs much value and is a superb audio/video reference title for any collection.
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