The roller coaster of comic books turned into feature films continues apace; comic fans run hot and cold on these movies, largely depending on their respect for the original. Compare Raimi's Spider-Man movies, for instance, and the movie version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to their pulp-and-ink sources. Then watch Sin City and realize they filmed the comics.
Sin City is the umbrella title for comic autuer Frank Miller's mini-series of darker-than-noir crime stories, stories in which anti-heroes with a code of honor (as black-and-white as the art style) do nasty things to nastier people. The movie dramatizes three of these stories: Sin City, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard. And I'm not kidding about this: they used Miller's comics as the storyboards, shooting on greenscreen stages and using digital compositing and CGI to fill in the rest of the details in this high-contrast world.
The talent on display here is impressive, and beautifully cast, with the likes of Bruce Willis, Benicio del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood, Micheal Madsen - and above all, a helluva comeback performance by Mickey Rourke as the indestructible Marv.
As morally bleak as the best of the genre, Sin City may be a bit overlong at over two hours, and ultimately depressing, with extreme violence which comes to seem almost casual - but what a ride, and what amazing visuals.
Another digital-to-digital transfer, with all the clarity that implies. The warmth of the faux grays and willful insertions of a single, striking color - and an occasional retention of Miller's chiaroscuro choice of white for blood - adds up to a beautiful presentation, with no chatter, bleeding or ghosting.
And I almost wept when I put in the disc and it went straight to the menu. No ads, no unwanted previews. And the animated menu actuallys does a very good job of contrasting panels from the comic books with their filmic counterparts.
Just to prove that nothing is safe from long-past trends in the comics industry: The movie has been issued with four different cardboard sleeves, each bearing a different star or stars from the movie, echoing the theatrical poster campaign. Eh, it worked for Reservoir Dogs, didn't it?
Here's where we run into a bit of a problem.
There is an eight-minute Behind the Scenes clip-and-interview piece that features Miller, director Robert Rodriguez and "guest director" Quentin Tarantino which only makes the filmmaking fan hungry for more. And there are "Sneak Peeks" for the upcoming Mindhunters, and the Spider-Man '67 Collection, Lost and Desperate Housewives first season box sets.
The reason for this is the fact that here, on the store shelves, is the DVD for a movie that was in theaters a scant four months ago. There was simply not enough time, a problem which rankles director Rodriguez no end. He loves the medium, and promises a deluxe edition soon.
Then again, we're also still waiting for that deluxe edition of Kill Bill, so whether or not you opt to wait for a Sin City disc with all the bells and whistles is going to depend on your fortitude and patience. But for rental - well, it's right here, right now. Your move.
Dr. Freex, 8/18/2005