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Sin City (SE)
DVD disk
01.09.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Sin City (SE) order
Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller with Special Guest Director Quentin Tarantino

Mickey Rourke
Bruce Willis
Clive Owen


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A collection of brutal short vignettes, straight from the pages of artist Frank Millerís SIN CITY graphic novels. Stories include a killer out for revenge, a man who is willing to protect his girlfriend at any cost, a cop out to save a little girl from harm, and all are book ended by a hitman who has his own agenda. Itís love, justice and sex in a city that leaves no sin unturned.
Even though I thoroughly respect Director Robert Rodriguez as a filmmaker, for me his movies are hot and cold. He has had some exceptional ones like EL MARIACHI and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, but he also made the not-so-brilliant DESPERADO and ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. So what can one expect from his new film, which is co-directed by Frank Miller, the creator of the original graphic novels? Thankfully, nothing short of brilliance. Rodriguez and Miller have virtually (through an amazing and visually stunning green screen process) taken the images off the page and given them life. The effect is powerful, a heightened new reality, a comic book come to life. Rodriguez is smart enough to take already amazing stories and mesh them with his on going obsession to up the ante as a digital filmmaker. Bringing in Miller as co-director only fleshes out the tapestry, creating full and rich characters that literally pop off the screen. These stories are heavy, making no apologies for their dark and sinister nature, which is a refreshing change from the safe comic book films we have been bombarded with lately - itís a breath of fresh air. (Even the voice over, which I normally loathe as a narrative band-aid, is totally effective here!)

The performances here have not one false moment, everyone pulls their weight. You know the film is gonna be good when you see iconic names like Rutger Hauer and Powers Boothe in the credits. Classic leading man turns by Clive Owen and Bruce Willis simply add to the filmís firepower, with quirky character work by the always great Benicio Del Toro, Nick Stahl (that Yellow Bastard!), and Elijah Wood, giving the film more rich layers. Even the women get to shine, with the tough and sexy Jessica Alba (in perfect casting and, in my opinion, her best work), Rosario Dawson, and the stunning Jaime King all creating memorable work. (And Carla Gugino is, in both spirit and body, heart stopping!) But the true star, if there is only one, has to go to Mickey Rourke, whoís Marv is a stunning masterpiece. Rourke shows here what most people have seemed to have forgotten; that he is one of the most raw and talented actors around Ė he was born to play this role. His big and twisted mug in this film is a true representation of what makes this flick a winner; itís hard to look at, but you canít take your eyes off it. Being provocative, dynamic, and original are key to what makes this (or any film for that matter) a great cinematic experience and rest assured, SIN CITY is great cinema.
As always, Rodriguez and company have produced a stellar DVD package. (Simply titled Recut - Extended - Unrated) From the multiple commentary tracks to tons of in-depth features (with Rodriguezís famous 15 minute flick school), this version is one magnificent bastard. (Love the great interactive menus!) Even the packaging, which comes with two discs and the complete Graphic Novel, is a collectorís dream, so come and get it! (And I donít need to tell you to sell the other single disc version, because if you bought it, youíre not a true Rodriguez fan!)

Disc One:

Commentary (with Directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller): This is a fun and informative track, as Rodriguez and Miller tackle everything from working together to the backgrounds of characters. A real inside look, as Miller has the lowdown on all his creations and Rodriguez has all the stories to keep it going. Especially love when they talk about the problems they had with the Directorís Guild of America in trying to co-direct together. Best moment Ė When Rodriguez boasts about Miller's directorial involvement in the film, saying ďI get spoiled having you there!Ē, to which Miller replies ďThatís why weíre doing it again!Ē We canít wait guys!

Commentary (with Directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino): This one starts off with Rodriguez talking by himself, usually the best stuff. But here, Rodriguez seems a little too relaxed, not his usual note taking, fast paced self, even taking a few minor pauses. Donít get me wrong, the track is good, just wish there was more meat like his other commentaries. (He even mentions some of the same info from the previous track!) Things really start to pick up at the one hour, six minute mark, when Tarantino shows up and runs through a talk on his scene like the Tasmanian Devil. He even manages to ask Rodriguez some interesting questions that seemed like they might go unanswered. Tarantino then leaves all too soon, but is replaced a few minutes later byÖ Bruce Willis! (Man, they went all out!) Loved hearing that Rodriguez was thinking of casting Steve Buscemi as Yellow Bastard - that would have been something! Overall a good commentary track, but Rodriguez probably should have done his stuff on a day that he was more prepared (remember, Iím here to critique, not to ass kiss!) and willing to stay till the end. (He actually leaves at the one hour, fifty-four minute mark!)

Audio Track With Recording Of The Austin Audience Reaction: With this playback of the audience reaction as they watched the SIN CITY premiere in Austin, Texas (Rodriguezís home town), Rodriguez tries to ďre-create a live theatrical audience environment for the home viewerĒ and he succeeds in spades. Initially, I though it would be annoying, but it turns out to be an exciting way to watch the film again. Who would have thought you could get the same theater going experience at home, minus the seat kicking?! Better beware theatre owners, if this takes off, there will be no need for your services!

How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller To Make The Film (5:42): Itís mostly a story already heard in the various commentaries, but now told with the help of various actors and key people. Plus, there's enough behind the scenes footage to keep this featurette interesting, lean and worth watching.

Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino (7:14): Both Tarantino and Rodriguez talk about the scene that Tarantino directed, in full detail. It's tons of fun listening and watching these guys at work. Super cool.

A Hard Top With A Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City (7:36): Fascinating look at the different cars they used and how they got them. A virtual whoís who of mostly 50ís cars in all their glory. Love those decent engines Ė vroom, vroom!

Booze, Broads and Guns: The Props Of Sin City (10:58): A thorough look at the props from the film, most of which were interestingly made from scratch, based on Millerís drawings. True craftsmanship at work, these guys are the unsung heroes of this film.

Making The Monsters: Special Effects Make-Up (9:05): For the record, K.N.B. EFX Group are my heroes! Greg Nicotero, the talent behind such greats as EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN and LAND OF THE DEAD, talks about creating Marv, Yellow Bastard and all other things effects related. Plus we get to see behind the scenes shots of actors being made-up. Iím not worthy!

Trench Coats and Fishnets: The Costumes Of Sin City (7:35): So many costumes, so little time. Itís amazing how much work goes into getting and then detailing all the various outfits for the film. Love (as a red blooded male) seeing all the great and slinky outfits that were worn by the sexy women of SIN CITY. Hubba, hubba!

There is also an Interactive SIN CITY Game called Sin-Chroni-City, as well as both the Teaser and Theatrical Trailers.

Disc Two:

This one starts off right away with Director Rodriguez doing an intro, telling us all of the special features on this second disc. If itís designed to make me eager with anticipation, believe me, Iím already drooling! Plus, he does an intro for virtually every feature on this disc, the guyís got class!

Disc 2ís big draw is the new, Recut - Extended - Unrated Version Of SIN CITY, which has all four stories by themselves, in their entirety. Itís not better or worse then the theatrical cut, just different. You have to access the stories separately, so itís not the same as watching an entire film, hence the anthology feel to it. Great new moments include Marv and his Mom, and more tough and sexy Gugino in the Bruce Willis segment. Would have loved to have scene specific commentary on the new footage, but its great stuff nevertheless.

Rodriguez Special Features:

15 Minute Flick School (12:25): Anyone whoís a fan of Rodriguez knows what to expect from this one, and he doesnít disappoint. A complete technical look (for filmmaking students and movie buffs alike) at all the secrets and ways he shot SIN CITY. He is the master of magic and, like all the great illusionists, is not afraid to tell you how he did it. (Plus, he just creates new tricks anyway!)

All Green Version (12:28): Here we see actors earn their pay, as they perform in front of an actual green screen. Itís the whole film, sped up about 800%, so that it can be watched in less than ten minutes. A real eye opener and clearly shows what Rodriguez and company filled in after this process. Stunning work. (Not to mention some heavy nudity with no shadow lighting!)

The Long Take (17:45): One of the most revealing featurettes ever, with one complete take of Tarantinoís scene. But thatís not even the revealing part. Itís getting to see Quentin at work thatís truly mind-blowing, actually talking to the actors. Getting a glimpse into Tarantinoís directing process and hearing the direction he gives is like winning the friggin lottery! Worth the money just for this piece alone.

Sin City: Live In Concert (9:19): A live performance by Bruce Willis and The Accelerators, with a song called Devil Woman, which was shot during production. It takes place at a local bar and was done for charity. Strictly for all you ďThe Return of BrunoĒ fans!

10 Minute Cooking School (6:25): Whatís cooking in the Troublemaker Studios kitchen this time? Itís ďSIN CITY Breakfast TacosĒ. (If I make and eat this stuff, can I get a three picture distribution deal from Dimension?!)
The only thing more sinful than then owning a pristine copy of this groundbreaking and remarkable film, is getting this Recut - Extended - Unrated version. Unlike a lot of large DVD sets, itís well worth the money and is so chocked full of extras, it would make the folks at Criterion blush. As for the film itself, itís rare when a film can show you something youíve never seen before. In the cinematic world of geriatric, coffee table flicks, SIN CITY is a rare gem. A film this brutal, this honest, and this intense is far and few between and loving it is no sin.
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