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Sin City: Recut, Extended & Unrated

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A+/A+/A+

Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Frank Miller
Based on the graphic novels by: Frank Miller
Produced by: Elizabeth Avellan
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jaime King, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Bruce Willis
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

"Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything."

Frank Miller's collection of Sin City graphic novels had a huge cult following. No announcements had been made for a film version and it looked as if there would never be one. Enter Robert Rodriguez, director of films like El Mariachi, From Dusk Till Dawn and The Faculty, who showed much interest in making a Sin City film. Miller, however, did not share his enthusiasm. At this point, a deal was made. The two of them would make a short film based on a short story from one of the novels (which would later become the opening to the film) and then they would decide whether or not to make the film. After that, it was history.

With Sin City, Miller created his own mythology, filled with interesting stories, strange locations and wild characters. Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a hulking thug and a social outcast in Sin City. His one true love, Goldie (Jaime King), has just been brutally murdered. Now, he finds himself with a score to settle. Ex-photographer Dwight (Clive Owen) is in love with Shellie (Brittany Murphy), a waitress at a bar in Sin City. Dwight is spending his night defending Gail (Rosario Dawson) and her Old Town girls against Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro), a corrupt cop. Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is the only honest cop of Sin City, who has been incarcerated for years in regard to a crime he didn't commit. Now a free man, he vows to protect sexy stripper Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) from the deformed paedophile who had him jailed.

The highlight of Sin City, as anyone should know, is the visuals. Made to look identical to the graphic novels that inspired it, Sin City includes some astounding special effects. The film is comprised of three separate stories, much like Pulp Fiction, a film which, without a doubt, inspired at least a few parts of the film. These three stories are very entertaining with nearly no break in the action of the film's duration. The dialogue, lifted straight from Miller's graphic novels, is fantastically written. With the exception of Michael Madsen's dreadful and thankfully brief performance, the acting is equally fantastic. This one is a must-see for fans of action films or crime-dramas. An "A+" for the film.

When Sin City was first released on DVD in August of 2005, it had fantastic technical quality, but almost nothing in the way of extras (you can read my review of the original release here). I'm reviewing the newly-released two-disc Recut, Extended & Unrated edition and it is just superb. It includes both the original theatrical version of the film, along with a new cut, several commentary tracks and loads of behind-the-scenes featurettes. The theatrical cut is presented in anamorphic widescreen and the sound comes in the form of Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks. The film looks great with not a scratch in the print or even a hint of grain to be found. The sound is equally good, providing a highly atmospheric viewing experience. All the dialogue is extremely clear and the bass will get quite a workout during the many elaborate action sequences. An "A+" for video and audio. If only all DVDs looked this good.

There's a massive amount of extras included in this release and it's all quality stuff! Spanned across two discs, these extras completely make up for the horrid DVD release that came four months prior. The first extra on disc one is a fantastic commentary track with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller. I learned a lot from this track as it gives great insight into the making of Sin City. The next commentary track claims to feature Rodriguez and special guest director Quentin Tarantino, but Tarantino is actually absent throughout most of the track. Eh, maybe he had some bathroom issues. Next up is an additional audio track which is a recording of an Austin audience's reaction to the film. This kind of feature is popping up more and more on today's discs, and I'm loving it.

There are six behind-the-scenes featurettes included on disc one. "How it Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to Make the Film" and "Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino" give us a look at how both men came on board to work on the project. "A Hard Top with a Decent Engine," "Booze, Broads and Guns," "Making the Monsters" and "Trench Coats and Fishnets" give us a great inside look at the cars, props, make-up and costumes respectively. The making of this film is quite an amazing thing to see. The advent of DVD has certainly given me a greater respect for the people at work behind the scenes. A very innovative extra, "Sin-Chroni-City" is an interactive visual experience that gives us a tour of Sin City, a look at notable in-city events and information on the various characters. Additionally, almost every page of this feature includes some commentary from Frank Miller. It's an excellent extra and worth trying out. The final extras on the disc are the film's theatrical and teaser trailers. Needless to say, I'm happy they were included.

There were a ton of extras on disc one, right? Well, disc two is just as packed and will probably be the most-watched disc in the set. The most notable extra is the recut and extended version of the film, though calling it that is a bit misleading. All four stories are presented here with all cut material inserted back into them, but there's not an option to view them all at once. Additionally, each story has its own options and scene selection menus. This version of the film would also get an "A+," but since it's not presented in full form here, there's no point in grading it. It's definitely worth a watch, but I believe I prefer the theatrical cut. Just recently, thanks to the Clerks 2 production videos, I've learned a few things about Robert Rodriguez's editing style and I must say, he does it in a very unique way. He starts at the beginning of the film and then begins to cut things out. But then, after a few cuts have been made, he returns to the start of the film and watches it all over again to see if any other cuts need to be made to keep the pacing right. For more information on that, check out this video.

Next up on disc two is Rodriguez's "15 Minute Flick School," in which he gives viewers an overview of the film's production. It covers everything from how the unique look of the film was achieved to screen tests and much, much more! The "All Green Version" of the film gives us a high-speed version of the film with no background and only the green screen. "The Long Take" is a continuous piece of footage that gives us a great look at the filming of Tarantino's single scene in the film. "Sin City: Live in Concert" documents a benefit concert that was held a short while after the filming of one of the stories. A real treat here is a live performance by Bruce Willis and his band, who were guests at the concert. The final extra on the disc is Rodriguez's "10 Minute Cooking School," in which he teaches viewers how to make late-night Sin City breakfast tacos. I haven't made these yet, but if anyone has, please send me an e-mail!

Also included in the package is a reprinting of one of the original "Sin City" books titled "The Hard Goodbye." This is the ultimate topper on this amazing DVD set. Everyone needs to buy this DVD, not only because of the vast amount of extras, but also because of the quality of the film itself!

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