Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sin City: Recut, Extended, and Unrated

There comes a time when a review of the movie will have no impact on whether or not a person will see the movie in the theatre, or even buy a DVD of the movie. I think Sin City is one of these movies because in general, Sin City is a "love it" or "hate it" movie for critics and fans alike. Strangely, I was in the middle when I saw Sin City in the theatre. I was impressed with the visual style, and I liked the look of the movie, the sound of the movie, the hard bitten over the top language and action of Sin City. I admired what the director, Robert Rodriguez did in bringing Frank Miller's graphic novels to life. But I didn't love the movie. Since that time I've read the graphic novels and I've now watched this special edition extended recut DVD of Sin City and I've changed my mind somewhat. I'm even more impressed and I like the movie a whole lot more.

The question is why. I think the first and biggest reason is how this DVD is presented. It offers up the theatrical version of the film, which I feel is essential in any DVD edition which gives us an extended or director's cut. Let us compare. Robert Rodriguez does. The second disc of this set includes the extended and recut edition of the movie, but it's not like your typical extended edition. Since Sin City is based on several Frank Miller books and tells four different stories that slightly overlap, the recut version of the film is now four short films each with its own title card and each one has to be selected separately on the menu. I love it. This works far better for me because we get short films that are self contained and tell a complete story and I don't have to sit through two hours of film just to watch the 40 minute Marv segment "A Hard Goodbye". Even after watching the theatrical version, I'm not sure where the twenty minutes of extended footage came from. It's probably just 15 seconds here and 30 seconds there and not big new scenes. I can completely skip the short Josh Hartnett section if I want. This is the way I want to watch the film.

Besides this recut version of the film, there are also some quality bonus features included on the DVD. First up is Robert Rodriguez's "15 Minute Flic School". In this featurette director Rodriguez talks about how he decided to make Sin City after looking through his graphic novels and saw that shooting the film would both be possible and a challenge. He talks about specific ways that he was able to save money in the making of the movie as well as how few of the major actors were actually on set at the same time, even if they have scenes together. This is a very interesting look in how this man makes his movies. Next up is the "All Green Version" of Sin City. This is the Green Screen version of the movie and Rodriguez introduces it, saying that he sped the film up 300 times or so in order that we can watch the entire movie in 10 to 15 minutes, but it gives us the chance to see how little the actors had to work with and how much work went into getting what we see on screen to actually be there. This is a neat feature and it is remarkable how good of a job the actors did with so little on set. We also get to see "The Long Shot" where we see an on set take with some background footage where Rodriguez and guest director Quentin Tarantino just let the cameras roll for 15 to 20 minutes and keep the scene going. We see some of what Tarantino says to the actors, what actually made it into the movie, and how the actors work and figure out how to play a scene. This is another great feature.

Another feature is the Sin City concert. This is actually just a one song clip from Bruce Willis and his band The Accelerators doing a performance for the cast and crew of Sin City as well as Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly which was filming nearby. Surprisingly enough, Willis is quite good as is his band. Good stuff here. The last feature on disc two is a 10 minute cooking lesson from director Robert Rodriguez. Here we see Rodriguez explain how to make his homemade breakfast tacos. It looks good and I understand that he does this on his other DVDs as well.

The first disc of this set is the theatrical version of the film with other special features. Besides the commentary track, the other features are the obligatory “the cars of Sin City”, “the props of Sin City” and other related informative but not nearly as interesting as the disc two features. Two that are interesting are the story of how Rodriguez convinced Frank Miller to let him do the film and Quentin Tarantino as guest director for a scene in the movie. The rest are fairly stock features.

Overall this is an excellent set that really is worth owning if you are at all a fan of Sin City. This set does the movie and the books proud.

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