Sin City appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I’m reluctant to call this transfer flawless, but if it’s not, it comes awfully close.
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 pristine 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 occasional blue could be seen, though that hue wasn’t a frequent presence. 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 Blu-Ray offered a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack that sounded great. With all the action of the various stories, the mix 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 track 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 soundtrack.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray Sin City compare with those of the Sin City? I think the standard DVD fares really well for its format, but the Blu-Ray benefits from the higher resolution it affords. Actually, audio doesn’t present much of a change, as both sound very similar, but the visuals get a nice boost. The Blu-Ray simply takes everything to the next level and adds a degree of clarity and precision not possible on DVD.
The package excels when it comes to extras, most of which repeat from the earlier 2-DVD release. If you want to simply read about Blu-Ray exclusive elements, look for the blue print.
Starting on Disc 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.
For a Blu-Ray exclusive, we find the Cine-Explore option. This allows you to “seamlessly branch out to bonus features and commentaries while watching the movie”. That’s not a particularly accurate reflection of this feature, as it implies lots of video components and added notes.
In terms of audio, we hear the Rodriguez/Miller commentary during “Cine-Explore”; unless I’m just a stooge who couldn’t find them, no “bonus commentaries” appear. As for the video elements, “Cine-Explore” shows three kinds of components: the final film, green-screen shots of the original photography, and images from the original graphic novel. These show up on screen at the discretion of those who created “Cine-Explore”; although the description implies interactivity, instead the disc displays everything for the viewer.
Though not as dynamic as I’d hoped, “Cine-Explore” offers a reasonably cool examination of the movie. It gives us good comparisons among the graphic novel, the raw photography, and the finished flick. I doubt I’d want to sit through it more than once, but I like the material it offers.
Moving to Disc 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 disc’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 disc’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.
Exclusive to the Blu-Ray, we get an Interactive Comic Book. Called “Kill ‘Em Good”, this runs a semi-animated version of the original graphic novel with the movie’s audio played over it. This resembles the presentation of the Watchmen Complete Motion Comic.
The feature also does throw in the promised “interactive” elements. Don’t get too excited, as they’re pretty silly. For a car chase, you “steer” Marv’s car with input ala Dragon’s Lair, and you also get to “throw money” at Nancy while she dances. Your input allows Marv to battle baddies on the Roark farm.
Whose idea was this goofy “interactive” format? The semi-animated rendition of the graphic novel is enjoyable, though I’d have preferred a more concise comparison between the movie and the source material. Still, it’s nice to see the original art. The “interactive” bits add nothing to the experience, however. In fact, they really distract more than anything else.
Most of Disc Two’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.
Finally, we find a collection of Trailers. By “collection”, I mean “two”. We see the flick’s theatrical ad along with its teaser.
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. This is a fun feature; the same material appears in the “Cine-Evolve” component, but this one presents it in much less time.
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.
Disc Two opens with ads for Miramax Films, Lost, and Blu-Ray Discs. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with promos for The Proposal and Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Does this Blu-Ray edition of “Recut, Extended and Unrated” lose anything from the prior DVD version? To my surprise, yup. Unless it’s hidden somewhere, the BR drops a short Rodriguez introduction to the “REU” version; it’s a strange omission, but it’s not a major one.
A bigger disappointment comes from the loss of “Sin-Chroni-City”. This allowed us to “explore Sin City to find out when and where the characters cross paths.” This let us dig into the graphic novel in more detail, and we got good insights from Miller. I really liked this feature and have no clue why it failed to make the cut here.
The BR also drops a paperback edition of Sin City: The Last Goodbye. The 208-page piece included that entire graphic novel. I’m less surprised that this text didn’t reappear, but it’s still too bad, as I liked the ability to read the original work.
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.
Fans who already own the prior release of the “Recut, Extended and Unrated” version of Sin City won’t pursue this Blu-Ray edition for its pair of exclusive supplements; only one is actually useful, and even it doesn’t truly impress. However, they will go after this Blu-Ray because it looks really, really good. In terms of film presentation, this is the definitive version of Sin City; it will make the movie’s fans exceedingly happy.
To rate this film visit the Widescreen Edition review of SIN CITY