Sin City appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Wow - what a great looking transfer!
From start to finish, sharpness was immaculate. Wide shots, close shots, medium shots – it didn’t matter, as the presentation always kept the picture tight and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. Shot digitally, the movie looked like it came straight from that source. I didn’t detect any source defects through this flawless image.
As I noted in the body of the review, City was a black and white film with occasional splashes of color. Reds were most frequent, while yellows and golds came up often as well – particularly in the third act, since it presented a yellow character. The colors always appeared terrific. They demonstrated the appropriate clarity and definition at all times.
Since they dominated the movie, the black and white tones became especially important. They also seemed positive. Blacks came across as deep and firm, while contrast was brilliant within the movie’s design. Low-light shots offered great delineation and visibility. All told, I found nothing about which I could complain in this excellent transfer.
I also really liked the audio of Sin City. The DVD offered both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. As usual, the DTS mix was mastered a little louder than the Dolby one. When I accounted for those differences, I thought both were virtually identical.
That was good, since both sounded great. With all the action of the various stories, the mixes had a lot of room for involving material, and the tracks took good advantage of that. Of course, the many violent scenes worked the best. Gunfire and other attacks zipped around us to fill the room with mayhem. Vehicles also zoomed about accurately and helped this mix create a good sense of place. The tracks also demonstrated fine stereo imaging for the music and a strong feeling for general atmosphere during the quieter scenes.
Audio quality was top notch. A few lines displayed their looped origins a little too obviously; I thought some of this might be intentional to match the overblown world of the film, but since the film didn’t use that tone consistently, it became a minor distraction. Otherwise, speech was concise and crisp, with no edginess or other issues. Music sounded bright and dynamic, as the score always appeared lively and full.
Effects packed a wallop. With all the action, they had many opportunities to blast you through the wall, and they used them well. The elements were accurate and clean, and bass showed good definition and strength. Chalk this up as a terrific pair of soundtracks.
How did the picture and sound of this 2-DVD Sin City compare with those of the Sin City? Both appeared identical, as it looked like the new disc used the same transfer.
However, the 2-DVD package excels when it comes to extras. Starting on DVD One, we get two separate audio commentaries. The first presents co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. They sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion. On his own, Rodriguez always proves chatty, but with Miller in the room as well, they pack the movie’s 124-minute running time to the gills.
First, the negative side: too much praise! Rodriguez and Miller often form a mutual admiration society, and they also toss out lots of happy talk toward the cast. Even with that side of things, though, this turns out to be a terrific commentary. We get notes about adapting Miller’s comics, working together as co-directors, casting and dealing with the actors, the movie’s visual style, and its sets – or lack thereof, given all the green-screen work.
From start to finish, barely a second passes without comment. And except for the gushy praise, virtually all of the material deserves to be heard. We learn a ton about the film’s creative side and its creation. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a dull commentary from Rodriguez, and along with Miller, he doesn’t disappoint here.
For the second commentary, we get remarks from Rodriguez, guest director Quentin Tarantino and actor Bruce Willis. Rodriguez offers a running, screen-specific piece, and the others join him along the way.
Rodriguez starts the track with a discussion of his interest in the material and how he convinced Miller to do it. From there, he chats about lassoing the actors, adapting the source material, shooting on green screen, visual choices, effects and other technical issues. As always, he provides succinct, concise notes about his work that illuminate a number of areas. The only disappointment/oddity is that he concludes the commentary well before the end of the movie.
Tarantino pops up for the scene he shot. Actually, he appears briefly early in the program for a comment edited in, but the meat of his material comes from an interaction with Rodriguez during “The Big Fat Kill”. He tells us about shooting digitally – something he’d resisted – as well as influences and other elements of his segment. Tarantino is hyper and chatty as ever. He interacts well with his pal Rodriguez and makes his segment lively, fun and informative.
Willis shows up for parts of “That Yellow Bastard” and chats along with Rodriguez. He lets us know why he did the film, compares it to experiences with other efforts like Pulp Fiction, and discusses what it was like to work on City. Willis seems more enthusiastic than expected as he gives us a good look at his side of things. All together, this adds up to a very nice commentary.
For a third alternate audio track, we find the Austin Audience Version. This Dolby Digital 5.1 mix adds the actual reactions of the crowd from the film’s premiere. It’s a mildly interesting curiosity, I suppose, but I wouldn’t want to watch the movie with it.
Most of DVD One’s other extras come in the form of featurettes. How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to Make the Film runs
five minutes, 42 seconds, and includes the standard roster of movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We find notes from Rodriguez, Miller, Tarantino, prop master Steve Joyner and actors Josh Hartnett, Carla Gugino, Benicio del Toro and Bruce Willis. The show tosses out a little about why Miller did the comic, Rodriguez’s desire to make the film, how Rodriguez got Miller to agree to do the flick, and how they worked on the set. We’ve already heard virtually all of this information in the commentaries, so this featurette seems superfluous.
For a look at the cameo filmmaker, we go to the seven-minute and 13-second Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino. It offers comments from Rodriguez, Tarantino, Miller, del Toro, and producer Elizabeth Avellan. We hear a few snippets about the relationship between Tarantino and Rodriguez and why Quentin agreed to do his short spot. They also discuss Tarantino’s scene and shooting it. As was the case with “Down”, we get a lot of repetition here for those who listened to the commentaries. It does offer some nice shots of Tarantino on the set, though, so it has some good moments.
During A Hard Top with a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City, we get a seven-minute and 36-second piece with info from Miller and transportation coordinator Cecil D. Evans. Mostly Evans identifies the movie’s many cars. He occasionally gives us a few details about them, but this is largely just a long roster of names. That makes it less interesting than I’d expect, as I’d prefer to learn a little more about the cars.
Next we find the 10-minute and 57-second Booze, Broads and Guns: The Props of Sin City. In it, we hear from Joyner, Rodriguez, Miller, Tarantino, property master Caylah Eddleblute, 3D CNC modeler/graphic designer Troy Engel, prop sculptor Brandon Campbell, head prop fabricator Marcus Laporte, and actor Devon Aoki. As you’d expect from the title, we learn about the design and creation of some props here. The show emphasizes weapons, as we learn a lot about knives, guns, bows and swords. This piece works pretty well, especially due to some fun stories such as how Sin City borrowed from Kill Bill.
After this we locate Making the Monsters: Special Effects Makeup. The nine-minute and four-second program presents info from Miller, Rodriguez, Tarantino, del Toro, special makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, and actor Nick Stahl. We learn about creating the looks for Marv, Jackie Boy, and the Yellow Bastard. Quite a few nice details pop up here, and a lot of good behind the scenes shots flesh it out well.
Trench Coats and Fishnets: The Costumes of Sin City fills seven minutes and 34 seconds. It offers statements from Rodriguez, Miller, costume supervisor Nina Proctor, and actors Rosario Dawson, Brittany Murphy, We get facts about the clothes used for Marv, Shellie, adult Nancy, and Gail. I think we find a little too much praise for Proctor’s work, but we find some good information nonetheless.
An unusual piece, Sin-Chroni-City starts with an intro from Miller. From there we can “explore Sin City to find out when and where the characters cross paths.” This means we can select from a variety of options to see locations, stories and characters. All this comes with commentary from Miller. He discusses the personalities and situations. It’s an interesting concept on its own, but Miller’s notes make it very valuable.
Finally, we find a collection of Trailers. By “collection”, I mean “two”. We see the flick’s theatrical ad along with its teaser.
Moving to DVD Two, the main attraction comes from the film’s Recut, Extended and Unrated edition. This version of the film splits the flick into four separate chapters, all of which come with their own title cards and credits. During the Miller/Rodriguez commentary, we learn that they regard this as the best way to view the separate stories, and they all include additional footage. While the theatrical cut lasts 124 minutes, this version of Sin City fills almost 142 minutes. (The DVD’s packaging claims that it fills 147 minutes, but that’s wrong.)
18 more minutes sounds great, doesn’t it? Don’t get too excited, because the end credits fill most of that time. The credits for the theatrical cut last about seven and a half minutes, while the four components here offer almost 18 minutes of text. (The opening titles are brief and occupy about 45 seconds combined for all four films.)
That means we only find an additional eight minutes or so of actual film footage. This isn’t an insubstantial amount of material, but it certainly seems less impressive than the extra 20+ minutes promised on the DVD’s case.
Criticisms over false advertising aside, does the extra material make a difference? Not really. I barely noticed the added footage, as it didn’t create a substantial difference in the episodes. I think the separate format works okay, but I don’t think it makes the pieces more satisfying than the integrated version of the theatrical cut. Either way is good – just don’t expect revelations from the extended edition.
DVD Two opens with an Introduction from Rodriguez. In this 69-second piece, he tells us about the re-edited version of City, its proper running order, and the extras.
A staple of Rodriguez DVDs, we find a 15 Minute Flick School. Actually, it runs 12 minutes, 25 seconds, and it presents commentary from Rodriguez as we watch movie clips and lots of raw footage. Rodriguez discusses visual effects, the movie’s look, test footage, shooting in greenscreen, the use of color, filming actors separately, lighting and other elements. Rodriguez proves chatty and informative as always, and the behind the scenes clips are excellent. I especially like the greenscreen footage that shows how much trouble the actors had adapting to it. This is a packed little featurette.
Next we see an All Green Version of Sin City. This lasts 12 minutes and 28 seconds as it presents exactly what it implies. We see the whole film as shot – no effects, no altered lighting, no backgrounds. It runs at a very fast pace about eight times normal speed – how else could they pack in so much in so little time? – and it comes with some score snippets to occupy us. I like this feature, as I think it’s a great way to have a look at the production.
In The Long Take, we get a 17-minute and 45-second program. As Rodriguez tells us at the start, you film shoot an hour straight on DV, which is much longer than the 10-minute reels for film. After a few minutes of intro and behind the scenes elements, we get a 14-minute take of Clive Owen and del Toro in their car sequence directed by Tarantino.
This is a very enjoyable piece. I love this kind of feature, as it gives us a feeling of being on the set. We get a strong impression of the shoot since we see so many interactions and directions. It’s a great addition to the package.
Considerably less interesting, Sin City Live in Concert runs nine minutes and 18 seconds. It provides a live performance from Bruce Willis and the Accelerators shot at Antone’s in Austin. Do I really want to hear Willis sing? Not especially, so I could live without this feature.
For the last video piece, we find a 10 Minute Cooking School. Similar to a clip found on the Once Upon a Time In Mexico DVD, this six-minute and 25-second segment shows Rodriguez as he tells us how to make “Sin City Breakfast Tacos”. He teaches us how to create homemade tortillas and then fill them for the tacos. I never attempted the puerco pibil from Mexico; it’s complicated and I’m not much of a chef. These tacos sound easy and good, though, so they might be worth a shot.
Finally, the package includes a paperback edition of Sin City: The Last Goodbye. This 208-page piece includes that entire graphic novel. Although I suppose many fans will already have this in some form, I think it makes for a cool extra.
Since the original DVD of Sin City didn’t include many extras, we couldn’t lose much here. The old disc had a “Behind the Scenes” featurette that doesn’t appear in this set. Don’t take that as a negative, as the program was essentially promotional. All its information is covered here, so I don’t miss the featurette.
With imaginative visuals and a wildly gory setting, Sin City won’t be for everyone. However, folks who like the idea of an exaggerated comic book film noir will likely dig this creative and entertaining effort. Both picture and audio are top-notch, and this two-disc release packs a terrific set of extras.
That factor means that I recommend this package for pretty much anyone with an interest in Sin City. I advised a rental when I reviewed the movie-only disc since I knew this one would come out before long, so hopefully you skipped a purchase of the original set. If so, definitely snag this excellent edition. Heck, even if you did buy the basic DVD, this one’s worth an upgrade to get all the great supplements. It’s a terrific release.
To rate this film visit the Widescreen Edition review of SIN CITY