Packed with a bunch of special features and the Frank Miller book upon which Sin City is based, this is the DVD of this film that everyone has been waiting for.
Are studios so greedy that they had to release a barebones version of this DVD first?
Sin City Special Edition - Recut and Extended is one of those movies that either works or doesn’t work for the viewer. People who want reality would do well to avoid this film. Not that it isn’t real it’s just that everything is so stylized, so “hyper realized” that it might be off-putting to some. When we see the Marv (Mickey Rourke) character drive by in a car, holding someone's face to the ground as he goes, we know at that moment we are not seeing reality. Rather, we are seeing into the mind of Frank Miller who has created a comic as distinct as it is provocative. I expected there to be more of a moral uproar about this movie, but perhaps it moved past all of that because at no point during it’s release in the theaters and on DVD, has this movie ever tried to be anything other than what it is. It isn’t reveling in the violent world that Miller and Co-Director Robert Rodriguez have created, so much as it showing us an alternative world. The kind of place the might happen when all hope is lost, and people have no reason but to act how they do in this film.
Interestingly, the actors who inhabit this world never seem out of their element or depth. There has been a lot of talk of the technology that this movie has employed, but in a weird way this seems to have emboldened their performances. It has made the actors and the crew have to actually focus on the performance as opposed to all the other technical things. Who would have ever thought that amidst the debate about technology taking the heart and soul out of films, it actually has turned everything around so that we can look inward? We know the surroundings are fake yet they are like nothing we have ever seen. Amidst all this we look for the familiar and it is there that I found myself clinging to the performances of this cast.
There are separate commentary tracks on this DVD featuring Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, as well as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. There is even a track for the home theater set, whereby they can watch this movie with an audience that Rodriguez recorded in a theater in Austin. Some may call that “papering” the house, but if I had a home theater system I would probably try it. Having the ability to hear these guys in such an intimate setting, talking about this film in particular, is a real bonus for the fans. These guys talk so fast and they pack these commentaries with so much technical “know how,” that it makes a DVD like this become a mini film school unto itself.
15 Minute Film School
Rodriguez in his classic, quick spirited way talks us through how he achieved the look of Sin City. While I know that there is a lot of information being left out of his description, the general ideas always come across and I’d be hard pressed to find a young filmmaker who isn’t inspired by what they hear here. My favorite part of this was when he said how most computers are currently shipping with “these programs.” He was referring to post production software and the like that now comes standard with most CPUs. Now, while he works on much higher end stuff than filmmakers like myself do, the point is clear, if you learn one program that knowledge will translate over to all the other programs.
The Movie in High Speed Green Screen
This is actually really rad. Rodriguez set this piece to some music from the movie’s soundtrack and he just lets it play. Watching it, I was amazed by how much stuff wasn’t done on the greenscreen. For example, when Marv busts through the doors to meet the police officers head on, this was done in such a way that without any effects it looked good. Okay, the fact that this piece is sped up probably contributed to the movement, but I really was surprised that as “enhanced” as this movie is it still is very much rooted in reality.
The Long Take
This is a 17 minute shot from one angle of the driving scene between Dwight (Clive Owen) and Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro). While at times I thought that this ran a bit long, I do understand the reason why it is on here. Getting to see Quentin Tarantino at work is something everyone interested in the film should have the option to see. However, seeing the actors on screen together, especially actors of the caliber of Owen and Del Toro, is something else entirely. Yet, watching this scene we get another example of how steeped in technology they may be, there is a lot of realness happening in front of the camera’s ever watchful lens.
Sin City at Antones; The 10 Minute Cooking School and Bloopers
Sin City at Antones is a behind the scenes look at the cast and crew celebrating this film. While it’s surely something that’s germane for the extensive, “behind the scenes” aspect of this DVD, I didn’t see anything on display that I would have missed had this supplemental feature not been included. The 10 Minute Cooking School is starting to be a staple of Rodriguez’s DVDs. It seems normal that a man like Rodriguez who spends so much time around technology (he did build his own production studio, right?), would find solace in the quiet simplicity of the kitchen. Like the pioneering Francis Ford Coppola, cooking was also one of his relaxing hobbies as well. I love Bloopers and with a cast this rich, how could the DVD not have at least a few gems, right? Also, considering the shooting conditions and the subject matter that was being shot, it seems normal that you would have your fair share of fun on the set.
A Hardtop With A Decent Engine; Making the Monsters and Trench Coats & Fishnets
A Hardtop with A Decent Engine focuses on the automobiles of Sin City. We get to hear how they were acquired and how they were utilized to best serve the film’s shooting style. Personally, my two favorite cars in this movie were Marv’s and Dwight’s. Making the Monsters takes us inside the makeup and FX that are on display in this movie. I loved hearing how they made Mickey Rourke look like Marv, or Nick Stahl look like the Yellow Bastard. It is really intriguing seeing this process and I especially like hearing from the FX people. They bring such an unabashed playfulness to their work, that their enthusiasm seems contagious. This is a really nice segment in this rich Special Edition DVD set. Trench Coats & Fishnets is a piece examining the costumes for this movie. While it is interesting, truthfully, costumes are something I rarely pay attention to in the movies. This segment talks about trying to be faithful to the book, but also trying to find the creativity within that to create something unique.
Booze, Broads & Guns; How it Went Down and Giving Characters Life
Booze, Broads & Guns wore on me a little bit because do we really need a segment on the props from the movie? I know that there are some budding “propmasters” out there that are going to love this (and probably hate me for writing this), but this was honestly the only other segment that I think should have been left off this DVD. How It Went Down tells the tale of how Robert Rodriguez convinced Frank Miller to make this movie. It is an interesting story in that Miller wanted nothing to do with Hollywood. When Rodriguez approached him about doing this film, Miller turned him down. It wasn’t until Rodriguez showed how they were going to make the film in Austin, TX (home to Rodriguez’ Troublemaker Studios), that Miller saw the potential and finally came around. Giving the Characters Life looks at the little forgotten idea that you can have all the technology you want, you still need the right actors and actresses to make your story come alive. The actors say the things we have come to expect from them in these kinds of pieces, but I love seeing Mickey Rourke (my favorite actor but someone not known for being the nicest guy), playing “good” when he’s not playing Marv on camera. It’s amazing how he behaves if he likes the director.
Special Guest Director and Sin-Chroni-City Interactive Game
Special Guest Director brings us Quentin Tarantino. We find out why he directed a scene of this movie, how all that came to pass and how he even hung around and “helped” on some other scenes for a whole week after he was done. Okay, I doubt he was working as a grip or getting anybody coffee, but it’s still cool to see him and Rodriguez working in tandem. Lastly, the Sin-Chroni-City Interactive Game is something you can play that further takes you into the world of Sin City. I tried doing it but then things got complicated so I stopped.
1.85:1 Widescreen. The look of this movie is the movie but not in a bad way. This is clearly an example of a film where style and substance are in equal proportions. When this film was first released in theaters a friend of mine described the style of it as “chrome.” That is such an accurate description for how this movie looks. It is all very sharp and as I stated, highly stylized, yet it doesn’t get bogged down by beating you over the head with it’s look. It is so steeped in trying to be “faithful” to it’s source material, that we end up with a film that looks like no other. I never got the impression that I was watching an FX laden film. That is precisely Sin City’s strongest asset. Nothing about the film feels artificial even though it is.
English - Dolby Digital 5.1 / English - DTS 5.1. From the opening strains of this movie’s soundtrack, to the score created by Robert Rodriguez and Co. the mood is instantly set. I love the 1940s, noir feel that this music evokes. There is something genuinely foreboding and scary about the score, yet this isn’t a horror movie per se. I guess the music perfectly underscores the events that we are witnessing on screen. I also love the way the dialogue is delivered. Now, I often lambast TV shows for being too stagey, but that’s because they are taking place in “real” environments. Sin City is taking place on a stage. It is spectacle of the highest order and as such this music and the soundtrack lend itself to the flash displayed on the screen.
This DVD is put together in such a way that the discs are in their own case, and then housed an another case with the completed Sin City Graphic Novel The Hard Goodbye. I am big fan of the bleak, black and red cover that looks like a movie from the the 1940s or 1950s. I also like how they display the DVDs contents as well. The back features a description of the film, a “Special Features” listing, a cast list and some technical specs. On a DVD as cutting edge as this, I would recommend watching this movie and the supplemental materials on the best TV you can get your hands on.
What I love about this movie is that as you watch it, you only realize it is taking place on a greenscreen when you think about it. Also, there has been so much made about “how” this movie was made (both from the press and the filmmakers), that I found as a viewer I watched this movie was a greater awareness for everything that was happening on screen. I knew what I was seeing wasn’t real. Perhaps this made the violence not seem as harsh? Maybe that was the point of making such a big deal about the way the film was made? So that when we watch it the movie won’t play the same way other violent movies do.
It is very interesting to me that Francis Ford Coppola’s initial idea of “digital cinema” is coming to fruition in this way. Robert Rodriguez is leading the pack of today’s directors who are pushing this medium forward. One can only imagine what he will create now that he has the freedom to literally do anything. I sometimes wonder if he might reach a point where he wants to scale back a bit, and maybe make films in “real” environments and settings? That said, I think he knows that the original style of moviemaking that he has abandoned was never very real to begin with.
Sin City Special Edition - Recut and Extended is a DVD that had to happen. It’s rich storytelling style and uncompromising “translation” of Frank Miller’s material is the kind of film that marks a watershed in the world of cinema.
Sin City was released April 1, 2005.