Sin City

Sin City (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba
Extras: Featurette, Trailers

Let's think for a minute about the potentially disastrous career move that Robert Rodriguez made when taking on "Sin City". First of all, there are the fans. The die hard fans who know the comics inside and out will be judging every scene by how it compares to the source material. Rodriguez is adapting a 'cult' comic, Frank Miller's labor of love, into a movie that will bring these characters to the mainstream for the first time. If Ang Lee thought he got some backlash with "The Hulk", then the "Sin City" fans will be infinitely more brutal. To combat this, Rodriguez insisted Frank Miller be a Co-Director on the film. While this is a move that was sure to please fans, it certainly didn't settle well with the movie industry. He had to resign from the Director's Guild of America to fulfill his vision, which affects not only some of his future projects, but possibly his reputation with some in the industry. Lastly there is the movie itself. An ensemble noir that is shot in front of a blue screen with pretty much everything added in later. "Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow" used the same technique and had mixed results. While it received primarily good reviews, "Sky Captain" failed to find an audience. Add to the fact that if "Sin City" performs poorly at the box office, the studio insiders can gloat and say 'I told you!' while the fans are blasting every frame of the movie. With all of that said, how did things turn out?

"Sin City" is a trilogy of stories blended together to showcase one of the best comic adaptations to ever come across the big screen. "The Hard Goodbye", "The Big Fat Kill", and "That Yellow Bastard" will all capture the gritty nature of the fictional Basin City, showcasing deep characters and numerous conflicts. Think of the most morally corrupt parts of Las Vegas and New York. If you blend the two together you have one city block of Basin City. It oozes with crime and deception, and we are given a front row seat to all of the wrongdoings. The movie is very stylized, combining the elements of film-noir with modern technology to give a pulp comic a shot of digital adrenaline. Fans of Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino (who directs a segment of the movie) will be instantly drawn to the sheer coolness of the movie.

The ensemble cast is nothing short of spectacular. Top nod certainly has to go to Mickey Rourke as Marv. He was born to play the revenge driven thug with an uncouth way of life. He comes across as brutish, but caring. Marv is a character Frankenstein would evolve into over time. His appearance seems to turn people away even though he is fiercely devoted to those he has let into his life. Another great turn was Elijah Wood as Kevin. Without uttering a word, Wood makes your skin crawl with his violent and wicked behavior. "Sin City" is another great choice for an actor who has truly made an artistic statement with his choices over the past five years.

The high definition video Rodriguez used is a delight on DVD. "Sin City" is truly a living comic book and this video is in Near Mint condition. We are given an anamorphic widescreen presentation that could have been tricky with the way colors were used. The black and white backdrop accents the limited use of color without over saturating the picture with bleeding reds. The detail in the city is amazing and Marv's white bandages seem to glow given the grays and blacks around him. To be honest, the style and substance of the movie makes it hard to find anything wrong with the picture. There are no flaws that jump out and get your attention, so it is easy to enjoy the movie without visual distraction.

The audio "Sin City" provides is the true highlight of the DVD. The Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks are both going to give surround sound systems something to work with by engulfing the viewer in the movie experience. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout the movie, never overpowered by effects or music. As a noir-style movie should be, the narration is the center of the story and takes priority over all other sounds in the movie. A close second in the sound field is the bass. From Marv's throaty words to Hartigan's hand cannon, your subwoofer will rumble with the sounds from Basin City. The rear speakers are utilized by music and sounds throughout the movie giving listeners a complete audio experience. As it usually does, the DTS track provides a little more detail and clarity than the Dolby Digital track. Both are great and highly recommended. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 French track included on the DVD.

Extra features on the disc were pretty slim. Besides the four collectible covers (a la "Reservoir Dogs"), there is really only a Behind the Scenes featurette (8:31). While it covers the origins of the film, the comments from Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino are pretty basic. After watching a movie like "Sin City", this extra feature feels like a drop of water to a man dying of thirst. I am a sponge, and eight-plus minutes of talking do not drench me with information. Also included are trailers for "Mindhunters", "Spider-Man – The '67 Collection", "Lost", and "Desperate Housewives".

With his involvement and vision, Robert Rodriguez has basically become one of the antiheroes he showcases in the film. Engulfed in a world where the odds were stacked against him, Rodriguez not only pleased fans with a movie that was dedicated to the comic, but developed a box office success as well. Rodriguez is Hartigan, the movie is Nancy, and the Yellow Bastard obstacles tried to make things difficult for everyone involved. Fortunately, we are left with one of the coolest comic flicks ever and the potential for more to come. While the movie is a perfect ten, the DVD is not. Excellent audio and visuals are brought down by a disc void of significant extra features. Rodriguez movies are always stacked with bonus material, so a double dip is inevitable. Personally, I feel the disc is worth the purchase to not only support this excellent film with strong DVD sales, but to tide us over until a more extensive version is officially announced.