Sin City

I first saw a side-by-side comparison of a DVD and a Blu-ray movie back in 2007. On that day I also saw an animated movie play. Blu-ray really makes animated movies sing – the HD picture stunned me back then, and animated movies continue, I think, to be the most breathtaking high definition video experience.

Strictly speaking Sin City is not an animated movie, it uses real actors in front of digital backgrounds. The movie is essentially in black and white, but colour is used on occasion – a character’s eyes, cars, blood, a dress… It seems odd to say that a black-and-white movie is a high definition tour de force, but this is a stunning looking movie, full stop. It is as good a selling point for the Blu-ray format as any movie I’ve seen.

These moviemaking techniques serve to make this a brilliant film version of the source material, the acclaimed Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. In a real nod to the importance of Miller’s vision, he is a co-writer, producer and director, along with Robert Rodriguez. Also briefly along for the directorial ride is Quentin Tarantino, who directs a short sequence of one of the stories.

Stories? Yes, there are four stories in this film, “That Yellow Bastard”, “The Customer Is Always Right”, “The Hard Goodbye” and “The Big Fat Kill”, taken from the original 13 stories in Miller’s graphic novel. Basin City, aka ‘Sin City’, is not a place of light and apparent goodness. It’s a noirish nightmare of a place, corrupt, violent and dangerous, though as is often the case in ‘noir’, there is goodness in some characters beneath their violent exterior. And there is violence in this film, be warned, but it’s a ‘cartoonish’ violence, the highly stylised visuals of the movie, for me, lightened the impact of the violence.

Sin City stars Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rosario Dawson, Benicio del Toro, Michael Madsen, Powers Boothe, Josh Hartnett, Jaime King, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Elijah Wood and Rutger Hauer.

I loved this when I saw it at the cinema, and I loved watching it on Blu-ray – check out the interesting collection of extras available on the disc(s). I didn’t watch this film using a HD sound system, but if you do good luck to you, the specs look pretty good. And if you have a D-BOX system, even better luck to you. The movie is enabled with the D-BOX motion code. D-BOX uses an actuator system to literally shake your seat around according to timing codes from a hardware module hooked up to your DVD or high definition optical disc player. Read more about D-BOX.


  • Format: Blu-ray version reviewed, also available on DVD
  • Sound formats: English 5.1 DTS-HD, English Audio Descriptive, Italian 5.1 DTS, German 5.1 DTS, Spanish 5.1 DTS
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs in box: 2
  • BD live features?: No
  • Video format: 1080p
  • Running time: 124 minutes
  • Subtitle options: English for the hearing-impaired, Italian, German, Spanish


Disc 1

  • Main feature
  • Commentary track: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
  • Commentary track: Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
  • 5.1 audio track of the audience reacting to the film in Austin, Texas
  • Audio options: English 5.1 DTS-HD, English Audio Descriptive, Italian 5.1 DTS, German 5.1 DTS, Spanish 5.1 DTS
  • Subtitle options: English for the hearing-impaired, Italian, German, Spanish

Disc 2

  • Play recut stories: 142 minutes long, watch the separate stories of Sin City in chronological order: “That Yellow Bastard”, “The Customer Is Always Right”, “The Hard Goodbye” and “The Big Fat Kill”
  • “Kill ‘Em Good” – Frank Miller’s graphic novel, “The Hard Goodbye” – Miller’s graphic novel with the ‘Sin City’ soundtrack, plus intermittent mini games where you use your remote control to interact with aspects of the story
  • “How it went down – convincing Frank Miller to make the film” – mini doco, 6 minutes long, featuring Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Bruce Willis
  • Quentin Tarantino featurette – 7 minutes long, (he guest directed the body disposal scenes in “The Big Fat Kill”
  • “A Hard Top With A Decent Engine” – 8 minutes long, how the 21 distinctive cars from Sin City were assembled
  • “Booze Broads and Guns – the props of Sin City” – 11 minutes long, a tour of the film’s prop shop
  • “Making the Monsters” – 9 minutes long – the makeup and special effects supervisor transforming the actors into the comic characters
  • “Trenchcoats and Fishnets: the costumes of Sin City – 8 minutes long
  • Rodriguez Special Features – 58 minutes in total:

“15 Minute Flic School” – how Rodriguez learnt and used digital film technology in the film.

“All Green Screen Version” – 12 minutes long – the entire movie in green screen only, sped up 800%.

“The Long Take” – a full roll (14 minutes) of a scene directed by Quentin Tarantino, including interaction between the actors and director.

“Sin City Live” night at Antones – 9 minutes long – filmmakers, cast and crew party. Bruce Willis’ band, “Bruce Willis and the Accelerators”.

“10 Minute Cooking School” – Robert Rodriguez shows how to cook Breakfast Tacos – a dish that fuelled him during the late night and early morning making “Sin City” – well, all his films really.

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