Written by: Derrick King on August 20th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: USA, April 1, 2005
Director: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Nick Stahl, Elijah Wood, Carla Gugino, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rutger Hauer, Devon Aoki, Jamie King, Michael Madsen
DVD released: August 16, 2005
Approximate running time: 124 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Dimension
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.99
An Adaptation of Frank Miller’s comics, Sin City tells three unrelated stories. The first, That Yellow Bastard, involves Hartigan (Bruce Willis) a retiring cop with a bad heart, who is out to save Nancy (Jessica Alba) from the son (Nick Stahl) of a powerful senator (Powers Boothe.) The second, The Hard Goodbye, is about a thug named Marv(Mickey Rourke) who is out to avenge the murder of woman (Jamie King) who slept with him. The third, The Big Fat Kill, tells the story of Dwight’s (Clive Owen) attempt to save the girls of Old Town from a drunk (Benicio Del Toro)and his friends. All three stories feature graphic, but highly stylized violence.
Even though each of the three stories have similar themes and some repeating acts (i.e. a person being dunked in the toilet happens in both The Hard Goodbye and The Big Fat Kill) they are all enjoyable and do not feel repetitive at all. However, after seeing the film in the theater I was drained because the pace does not let up. This is a result of adapting three full length stories, they had to trim them so a lot of plot is sped through to get to the next big point. The Hard Goodbye and That Yellow Bastard seem to be trimmed the most. Viewing it again on DVD, the film did not drain me because I was accustomed to its pace.
One other thing, The Big Fat Kill is the second story featuring Dwight (the first, A Dame to Kill For is the basis for the upcoming sequel) so if you are not familiar with the books and Dwight’s history you are not going to get as much from the story as those who have read A Dame to Kill For. The acting is, for the most part, very good with the only spotty performances by Michael Madsen(as Hartigan’s Partner Bob) and Brittany Murphy (as waitress Shellie.) Madsen is a little off during his first scene, but he is much better later on in the film. Murphy is ok except for one line that is almost impossible to pull off (“Damn it, Dwight. Damn it. You fool. You damned fool.”) Of the three main leads, Willis and Owen are fantastic at playing the noir hero, but it is Rourke who steals the show with his funny and brutal Marv.
With Sin City, Robert Rodriguez said he wanted to take film and turn it into a graphic novel. He and co-director Frank Miller have done just that. The striking black and white artwork(with the occasional spot coloring) from the comics is translated to live action as closely as possible through the use of CGI. The blending of live actors with digital backgrounds is flawless (the rear projection look of the driving scenes is intentional.) Sin City is one of the most visually unique films in recent years.
A lot of recent Miramax/Dimension DVDs have suffered from the dreaded edge enhancement, and I am happy to report that there is none to be found on this DVD. In fact, the picture quality on this DVD is, to put it mildly, stunning. Shot on digital, the picture is free from any flaws and has great detail. The beautiful black and white (and some color) image is probably the best that one could get from an NTSC DVD. It is reference quality. There are three audio options: English DTS, English DD 5.1, and a French dub. Both the DTS and DD 5.1 are fine, but not perfect. In the opening scene there is a harsh sound every time Josh Hartnett talks. After that the harsh sound is gone, but sometimes dialogue is accompanied by a slight hiss. It isn’t constant, but it happens every once in a while and can be distracting. The music, sound effects, and narration are free from the hiss.
This disc is pretty bare bones. It has a couple of trailer, for Mindhunters, Spider-Man: The ‘67 Collection, Lost, and Desperate House Wives, but these are ads not extras. The only extra is a short behind the scenes promo piece that can also be found on the DVD that was given away by Best Buy earlier this year. A special edition is, probably, coming in December or January and will feature extended cuts of the three stories, a 20 minute film school, a commentary track by Rodriguez, Miller and Tarantino, and a recipe for Sin City breakfast tacos. No word on if the theatrical cut will appear on the special edition, but Rodriguez recorded the audience reaction at the premiere and said that this track will be on the special edition, so the odds are that the theatrical cut will be on the special edition. My advice is to avoid the double-dip and rent this version and buy the Special Edition when it comes out.