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SIN CITY: RECUT

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jessica Alba, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood
Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Dimension
Features: See Review
Length: 147 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2005

ďWhere to fight counts for a lot...

...But thereís nothing like having your friends show up with lots of guns.Ē

Film ****

Rather than serving as just another comic book adapted for the cinema, Frank Millerís Sin City is elements of filmmaking injected into the actual comic book source, and the result is nothing short of exhilarating. The ultra-talented, and very restless, Robert Rodriguez and Miller have blended their skills to create what is very much a genre-bending picture. Not only do the visuals grab the viewer, but the Tarantino-esque narrative makes the movie an all the more invigorating experience.

The movie marks in first in the realm of storyboards. Instead of creating original storyboards for the sake of the movie, Rodriguez went straight to the source and used Frank Millerís graphic novels as the ideas for the very shots that would end up in the movie. Not only was Rodriguezí directing keeping in spirit with the comic source, but the inspired casting resulted in actors very much resembling the original characters of the graphic novels.

Call this a comic book movie with a touch of Pulp Fiction, as the screenplay by Rodriguez and Miller mixes together three interconnecting stories centering on various characters in the town called Sin City. Some are lowlifes looking for vengeance; others are heroes looking for pure justice.  The filmís engrossing narrative style places it amongst the likes of Pulp Fiction and Memento.

The first story involves Marv (Mickey Rourke), a hulk-like hoodlum who is out for bloody revenge. After meeting a beauty named Goldie (Jaime King), who turns up dead beside him in his bed, Marv sets out to take out those responsible for the senseless murder of the one girl who treated him with any hint of respect. His trail leads to unexpected suspects, including a deadly figure with a certain taste for killing, played by Elijah Wood in a role that will make you forget anything having to do with Frodo Baggins and have you chilled to the bone.

The second story, and my favorite of the three, tells of good-hearted killer named Dwight (Clive Owen). After witnessing a tension filled run in with current flame Shellie (Brittany Murphy) and hothead Jack (Benicio Del Toro), Dwight follows the suspicious Jack to see that he doesnít harm any of the working girls in the city. The events that following result in the breaking of a truce in Sin City, between the crooked cops and the working girls who defend their territory.

The third section of the movie concerns a burned out cop named Hartigan (Bruce Willis) vowing to find and protect someone that he tried to save years ago, and did, but with harsh consequences. That someone is now a full-grown woman named Nancy (Jessica Alba), whoís now an exotic dancer at a nightclub. The very people who were trying to harm her years before, in particular a newly deformed pedophile (Nick Stahl), seem to resurface just at the moment Hartigan is reunited with Nancy.

One element that distinguishes Sin City from the rest of the comic book movie batch is the notion that in every single shot, you get the feeling that youíre watching an actual comic book in cinematic motion. The way Rodriguez has shot the movie, this being digital, allows for elements of lighting and other fixtures which allow the simplest camera shots to resemble the very kind of picture you would see in a comic book. Rodriguez, who has come to embrace the art of digital filmmaking, has achieved nothing short of visual brilliance.

Each story section of Sin City mesmerizes and pulsates with pure excitement. Mickey Rourke is absolutely phenomenal in what can be considered a comeback role as the vengeful Marv. Bruce Willis is fantastic as always in the role of the justice-dispensing Hartigan. The filmís finest work, for me, comes from Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro in the filmís second, most bizarre section of the film. Mr. Del Toro, in particular, should be given credit for being such a pro, and youíll have to see the film to see what I mean.

In short, Sin City is an utter masterpiece. Itís rare to experience a film that mixes the absolute best of worlds. Itís a visual masterpiece, but itís also a marvel in the realm of cinematic storytelling. If anything, itís certainly one of the truly best films of the year.

BONUS TRIVIA: The section directed by guest director Quentin Tarantino is the scene with Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro riding together in the car.

ADD. TRIVIA: Frank Miller himself can be spotted as the priest threatened by Mickey Rourke in the confession booth.

Video ****

Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially found what can now be considered as the absolute BEST LOOKING PRESENTATION of the year. Dimensionís anamorphic offering delivers in every possible area of video performance. The black and white photography, mixed in with brief hints of distinct color, ignites the screen in a stellar way that few DVD presentations, even great ones, can bare to accomplish. Words canít describe the sheer brilliance that the look of this disc delivers. Itís one that is guaranteed to blow any viewer away.

Audio ****

Likewise in the audio field. The 5.1 mix, supplied in both Dolby Digital and DTS, rock the sound system like you wouldnít believe. Thereís so much going on in this movie, that itís impossible for the channels to not have something to work with. Everything from music score, to bombastic action, to plain dialogue delivery is delivered in pure A+ form. Regarding sound performance, this is one title that will certainly be mentioned at the DMC Awards.

Features ****

Alas, the one area fans of this movie were waiting to have upgraded. This deluxe two disc set includes every possible extra you ask for in terms of wanting to see how this marvel of a film came to life.

Disc One includes the Original Theatrical Release, which also features two commentary tracks; the first with Directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, the second with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Thereís also a third audio track featuring a recording of the Austin Premiere crowd, which makes you feel like youíre there amongst the first audience to ever see the movie.

Disc Two includes the Recut and Extended version of the movie, which allows you the movie in whichever order you wish. The stories have been split up, and each segment has been extended as the title indicates. Also featured on this disc is a belly full of extras, including a 15 Minute Film School with Robert Rodriguez, The Long Take: 14 Uninterrupted Minutes of Tarantino's Segment, "Sin City Live" Night AT Antones - Filmmakers, Cast and Crew Party, a 10-Minute Cooking School with Robert Rodriguez, How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller To Make the Film, A Hard Top With a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City, Trench Coats & Fishnets: The Costumes Of Sin City, Making the Monsters: Special Effects Make-Up, Booze Broads & Guns: The Props of Sin City, The Movie in High-Speed Green Screen - All Green Screen Version, Booze, Broads & Guns: The Props Of Sin City, Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino Segment, Sin-Chroni-City Interactive Game, and Teaser and theatrical trailers.

Also included is a Special Edition printing of original Sin City graphic novel The Hard Goodbye.

Summary:

Bottom line; sell your copy of the original disc and bank on this new fully loaded, Recut and Extended edition of the noir-comic masterpiece. Itís simply impossible to not be marveled by a movie like Sin City, even if youíre not too much a fan of comics. The cinematic vision of Robert Rodriguez combined with the brilliant graphic art of Frank Miller have combined to make a definitive genre film that will be remembered for years to come!
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