|Sin City (Unrated Collector's Edition)|
|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 13 December 2005|
When “Sin City” was released in theaters, the movie set off a wave of controversy. Detractors hated the stylized violence and gratuitous way women were used throughout the storylines. Nudity and bloodshed ran amok. Some claimed there were no true heroes in the bunch. Others who had found Frank Miller’s “Sin City” comic books before the movie felt certain that Robert Rodriguez couldn’t pull off Miller’s film noir stories in a way that would come close to the original. Fans of Rodriguez’s work felt certain the director had picked the wrong movie to do next.
Everyone talked about “Sin City.” And they continued to talk about the film. Once the initial gut reaction was over, the audience began talking about “how” the film was made, some of their favorite shots and scenes, all of them wondering how Rodriguez had made such a huge, expansive film on such a limited budget. And they wondered why Rodriguez would resign from the Director’s Guild to list Frank Miller as co-director on the movie.
The answer to the last was simple: Rodriguez (head of the aptly named Troublemaker Studios) and Miller (who stepped away from the major brands of comics to pursue his own creations in what some believed would be a suicidal career move) are both rebels at heart. They’re also remarkable visionaries.
Robert Rodriquez does things with film and digital effects that few other directors know enough technology to achieve. Where other directors farm out the digital effects to specialized companies, Rodriguez does his own and often creates new techniques and methods of doing them. When Rodriguez isn’t inventing ways of shooting a movie, he’s re-inventing others, bringing the production costs down to something he can do on a shoestring budget when the need calls for it.
Frank Miller reinvented “Daredevil” in the 1970s, then moved on to reinvent “Batman.” His comics haven’t always been hits with the audience out there (and his recent move back to the big comics companies has set off a flurry of fans clamoring for more “Sin City” projects than his “Batman” projects, while others have looked forward to his return to the Dark Knight), but everyone in the visual medium wants to know what Frank Miller is doing. (Currently, it’s the retelling of how Batman and Robin became a team, with the beautiful artwork of Jim Lee.) After entering the film industry, Miller delivered strong action sequences in “Robocop 2” and “The Matrix.” Can a purely Frank Miller film be far behind?
When the first DVD of “Sin City” was released, fans screamed that not enough extra content was delivered with it. They wanted more. In every DVD disc before, Robert Rodriguez has always delivered extras that included an exploration of his filmmaking techniques and ideology. With comics legend Frank Miller and director Quentin Tarantino involved, how could anyone pass up a chance to load the DVD with extras?
The answer was, they couldn’t. It was just a little delayed in coming. So now this second offering is out there. In addition to the DVD release of the theatrical version (reviewed elsewhere on this site – check out the archives for Bill Warren’s take), this special collection offers a second disc with all three storylines separated for snack-sized “Sin City” bites, as well as an appetizer, “The Customer Is Always Right.”
And now, the Special Features of “Frank Miller’s Sin City Recut Extended Unrated.”
Disc 1 features the original theatrical release backed with commentary. Viewers have their choice of listening to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller or the Austin, TX audience. The commentary with Frank Miller concerns itself more with the vision of putting the movie together. The friendship between Miller and Rodriguez, the commitment to vision, is awesome. Miller’s seduction into filmmaking is apparent. Quentin Tarantino is missing from much of the feature during his commentary, but he’s there for the bits he did. The commentary with the Austin audience is a hoot, giving us the experience of watching the movie with others.
“How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to Make the Film” details Rodriguez’s quest to track down the comic book legend and get the right to make the movie. Rodriguez went out on a limb and actually shot some of the movie before he ever had the rights, just so he could persuade Miller that the heavily stylized comic book experience could be translated to film. The interview with Miller is dynamite and honest. Rodriguez’s quest became to make the film medium bend to hold true to Miller’s vision. The art of the sale engineered by Rodriguez is awesome, but most directors could never do this. The piece shows how well Miller and Rodriguez worked together.
“Special Guest Director: Quentin Tarantino” provides an interview with Tarantino and how he became involved with the project. The piece reunited Tarantino and Rodriguez, who have worked on projects together in the past. Again, this piece shows how driven Rodriguez is to bring his movies to fruition.
“A Hard Top With a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City” presents an homage to the 20-plus cars shown in the movie. For the car connoisseur, this piece is a dream sequence of muscle and power. One of the most humorous pieces shows when one of the cars had to be changed because in real life it wouldn’t hold the five people called for in the story.
“Booze, Broads and Guns: The Props of Sin City” showcases Steve Joyner, Robert Rodriquez’s prop master. Frank Miller was blown away by the dedication of the props department. All of the props ended up being pretty much handmade, based on real designs. The tour through the mold shop and the revelation of the process is great, and it’s amazing how many weapons that look like metal are actually resin replicas. Miller, by his own admission, walked away with a ton of souvenirs.
“Making the Monsters: Special Effects Make-Up” talks about the make-up that had to be done on all of the actors to turn them into the characters. Again, Miller’s original vision is the chief factor here. Given the black and white nature of the film, the makeup people had to literally create new techniques that resulted in astounding effects.
“Trench Coats and Fishnets: The Costumes of Sin City” showcases the costume department doing their thing to bring Frank Miller’s imaginary world to big-time life. Once more, another visual department was challenged by Miller’s artwork. One of the best insightful moments is the discussion of Gail’s (Rosario Dawson) costume, all leather and belts, which had to be color-coded so wardrobe would know how strap her into it.
“Sin-Chroni-City” shows how the character all intersect. This is essentially the mental maps Miller and Rodriguez had for bringing this world to one cohesive whole. It’s an interactive bit that allows us to play around with the characters a little. A lot of information regarding the characters, as well as the architecture of the city, gets revealed in these bits.
The trailers are a nice addition to have. It’s interesting to see what the producers believed would bring audiences into the theaters.
The extended portion of the movie on Disc 2 includes a couple more scenes in “The Hard Goodbye.” In the first of these, we get to see Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) mother and gain a little more insight into his character, as well as his pistol, named Gladys. In the second, Marv directly assaults a guy in a bar to gain knowledge, something Miller often depicted in his early Daredevil comics. In “That Yellow Bastard,” the story now shows Lucille (Carla Gugino), Marv’s parole officer in “The Hard Goodbye,” coming to get Hartigan (Bruce Willis) out of prison. Also, we now get to see Hartigan’s wife and her take on the situation. “The Big Fat Kill” offers extended dialogue between two of the recurring villains in Miller’s jaunts through Sin City.
“15 Minute Flick School” alone is worth the cost of the extended version. The pep talk Rodriguez gives wannabe film directors is a gem, stating that most of what he does can be emulated in the home with computer programs that come standard on many computers, as well as pointing out that the effects he achieves are basically accepting the limitations imposed by what he’s doing and the technology and budget he has to work with, then figuring out a way to be more clever than those restrictions. During the piece, Rodriguez talks about how most of his stars never met while filming, that it was generally each actor in the green screen environment playing out a scene alone or with stand-ins. Rodriguez wasn’t the only one who had to envision the Sin City world around him. The openness with which Rodriguez gives his secrets away is refreshing and upbeat. He truly appears to believe anyone can duplicate his efforts. But the truth is that not everyone has his vision.
“The Long Take” displays Quentin Tarantino at work. The scene is from “The Big Fat Kill” and shows all the problems as well as the genius that went into capturing the sequence of events in the car with Dwight (Clive Owen). We also get the chance to see the personalities involved and how much of a strain goes into hours of shootings that only results in minutes on the screen. The green screen work, as well as the makeup struggles, are revealed. The cuts between the take and the movie version (flashes cut into the piece) are intensely awesome.
“Sin City: Live In Concert” features Bruce Willis and the Accelerators, the movie star and his band, at a bar called Antones. Willis blows a mean harmonica and the sound really pumps from the surround sound system.
“10 Minute Cooking School” opens with a bit taken out of context from the movie that turns the whole piece humorous. Rodriguez makes breakfast tacos. Though he’ll never replace Rachel Ray on the Food Network, Rodriguez ably demonstrates how to make tortillas from scratch and how to put the rest of the meal together.
“Sin City: The All Green Screen Version” offers the movie in all green screen, although sped up so the whole thing can be watched in about 10 minutes. It’s truly fascinating to see how little the actors had to work with. Sometimes there were no walls, no doors and no one else on the set.
The box set also includes a 200+ page graphic novel featuring Marv in “The Hard Goodbye,” so that someone who has never experienced Miller’s comics work can get the chance to examine what inspired Rodriguez.
The question quickly becomes, “Should I pick up the extended version of the movie?” The answer is, of course, “Yes!” Fans of Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and/or Quentin Tarantino will all enjoy this new disc set. People who want to know more about green screen and how it’s done or what can be done with it will want this new set. This new treatment of the movie, complete with stand-alone programming available for the four stories, also makes watching and rewatching easier.