Sin City

Sin City (2005)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica alba, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Video Commentary, Audience Audio Track, Interactive Comic Book, Featurettes, Trailers

While it had been anticipated with some trepidation initially, Robert Rodriguez proved that he was the right man to put Frank Miller's comic book "Sin City" onto celluloid. Since its release it has converted even the most comic-book-averse viewers into fans as one of the coolest films made in the past 10 years. Now arriving on Blu-Ray Disc, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has prepared a package the includes the theatrical version of the film as well as the recut, extended and unrated version. There was no holding back when this disc showed up here in the office.

The movie combines four stories from Frank Miller's comics and weaves them masterfully into a single story. "That Yellow Bastard" kicks things off and as the plot lines interweave, the film includes "The Customer Is Always Right," "The Hard Goodbye" and The Big Fat Kill" to tell stories of the seediest underworld imaginable in Basin City.
Unlike what you might expect from a comic book adaptation, the characters in the film are not your superficial stand-up figures. Instead we are dealing here with characters of tremendous depth making an emotional impact and creating real intense character drama.

Boasting a stellar cast that consists of greats such as Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro as well as a remarkable supporting cast including Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson and Brittany Murphy, the film offers tremendous performances in every frame. The real star of the movie is the technology, however, that has viewers hypnotized from the first frame. It is one of the most visually remarkable films, appearing almost entirely in brutally stark black and white. Single color accents, such as eye colors and blood splatters provide a transfixing focus at times. However, despite its visual extremes, the film never feels limited or throws the viewer out of the illusion. Instead it deepens the experience and makes Frank Miller's unique vision come to life in a way only Rodriguez could have done it. As a side note it is well worth mentioning that Robert Rodriguez had to go to significant lengths to get this film made at all and even resigned from the Director's Guild of America in order to get Frank Miller himself into the co-director's chair, something the DGA would not allow him to do. In the end it all paid off because "Sin City" is widely recognized of one of the most imaginative and visually stunning films in recent memory that also convinced traditional reviewers and viewers with its arresting story and direction.

This Blu-Ray release now features two versions of the film in glorious high definition. First there is the original theatrical cut of the film while on the second disc, there is the "Recut, Extended and Unrated" version of the film. In essence it takes the four plot lines and arranges each of them separately, giving you the chance to watch each of the stories by itself. While the benefit here is that the stories are slightly more cohesive in themselves, I felt that much of Rodriguez' genius of weaving the storylines together is being lost here. Personally, I clearly prefer the theatrical cut that feels more organic and the way the film should be.
The visual quality of the film on the is release is beyond words. You simply have to see it to believe how amazing this film looks in high definition. This is clearly a showcase disc of reference quality that puts the "high" in high definition. The level of detail and overall sharpness of the transfer will wow even the most casual viewer while the brutal contrasts found in the film make the image look almost surreal. Add to it the color blotches for accents and you have a release that will floor anyone laying his eyes on it.

The disc features DTS 5.1 HD Master Lossless Audio tracks to complement the wonderful images and make sure the sound field will also blow you away. With a wide sound stage and extremely aggressive directional effects, the audio on this release is pure ear-candy. The dark but nicely harmonic score adds further to the atmosphere of the film and giving "Sin City" a very cool signature.

Not unexpected, the release is also stuffed with bonus materials. It has always been Rodriguez' approach to his releases to provide plenty of insight into his process as he is a very sharing compadre. It starts out with Cine-Explore, a picture-in-picture video commentary giving you a very detailed behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film. Check it out as it will offer you a really exciting ride through the process of this revolutionary film.

Also included are two commentary tracks, the first of them featuring Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller discussing the movie, while the second sports Rodriguez with collaborator Quentin Tarantino.

A rather unique experience is the audio track featuring audience reactions from the Austin premiere of the film. It gives you the feeling of sitting in a movie theater with other patrons, experiencing their gasps, laughter and overall reaction to the film as it was just being unveiled for the very first time.

The release also contains a large number of featurettes, including another entry of Robert Rodriguez's famous "15-Minute Film School" and one of his acclaimed Cooking Schools. But also real production featurettes are being found here, as well as unprocessed all-green-screen versions of the film. Taken together all these features are very complete giving you a remarkably detailed and close-up look at the making of the film and the process to get there.

"Sin City" has "cool" written all over it and it is an engaging experience through and through. This high definition presentation offers you the best way to see this film with unparalleled detail, contrast, colors and definition. Don't miss it it you like this movie.