"Frank Miller's Sin City" is a world where the heroes can take a whole series of punches as well as deliver them, where justice has nothing to do with either mercy or the cops, and the system is crooked from top down to pretty near the bottom of the barrel. The dames are still worth dying for and some of them might even be angels or goddesses, but others can defend themselves quite well without anyone's help. Still, this is a world where protecting women is hard-wired into the psyches of guys like John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Marv (Mickey Rourke), and Dwight (Clive Owen). If you fail to protect a dame, then somebody has to pay and in a way that will make the scum bucket think Hell is heaven when you finally let them go straight to there. This movie is rated R for "sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including dialogue," but that is most assuredly an R that is a whole lot closer to NC-17 than it is to PG-13.
I am not particularly happy that when I bought "Frank Miller's Sin City" on DVD as soon as it came out that it was the stripped down version and that a few months later, in time for Christmas no less, we finally get the "Recut, Extended, Unrated" DVD set. But studios are making money off of this double-dipping and if I could hold off for years on "Titanic" I should have been able to do the same thing with this one, so shame on me. But the good news is that (a) I did not have to pay for the upgrade and (b) the difference between the two DVDs, without the discount, is only ten bucks and you will more than get your money's worth here because to ease our collective pain Robert Rodriguez made sure that this 2-disc set goes the extra mile. That is clear as soon as you open up the box and discover it includes a mini-version of Frank Miller's "The Hard Goodbye" (my "mini" I mean the book is slightly larger than the size of a paperback novel). This is a good choice not only because it is the first "Sin City" graphic novel, but also because it is about Marv and as Marv Mickey Rourke steals this movie from Bruce Willis and the rest. So already you have account for a good chuck of the extra ten dollars you are spending and then we get to the super-loaded two DVDs.
Disc 1 contains the original theatrical release (uncut, unextended, rated). Your other "Sin City" DVD is made superfluous because this has three commentary tracks: co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller talking primarily about working with the actors; Rodriguez and special guest director Quentin Tarantino (eventually) talking more about the technical aspects of the film; and an audio track of the reaction of an audience in Austin to a screening of the film. The featurettes cover how Frank Miller was convinced to make the film, getting Tarantino to play with shooting a film digitally, and then separate looks at the cars, props, special effects and costumes of the film. There is then a "Sin-Chroni-City" interactive game that looks at how the three novels that make up the first "Sin City" movie cross each other, and the teaser and theatrical trailers. The two directors having a conversation while screening the film is the best of the extras on this disc, simply because I like the stories of the production a bit more than the details on how the film was made, but both are excellent commentary tracks.
Disc 2 offers the recut and extended theatrical release and it is not the deleted scenes being worked back in for the "extended" part that matters here but rather the "recut" part. That is because Rodriguez has recut the movie into the three graphic novels, "The Hard Goodbye," "The Big Fat Kill," and "That Yellow Bastard," along with the short story "The Customer Is Always Right" from "Babe Wore Red" and the epilogue Rodriguez and Miller came up with for the end of the film. With the movie broken up this way it is even easier for you to watch a "chapter" with Miller's graphic novel in front of you to see the extent to which they actually did shoot the book on this film. Of course the special features on this disc include new installments of Rodriguez's 15-Minute Film School and 10-Minute Cooking School (breakfast tacos). There is also a performance by Bruce Willis with a band at the "'Sin City' Live" cast and crew party at Antones filmed by Rodriguez with the digital camera. For cinema buffs the two treats are the movie in high-speed green screen, so you can see how they actually shot everything (tip of the hat to Rodriguez for protecting his cast on the brief nudity in this version), and a 14-minute uninterrupted take from Tarantino's segment (Dwight and Jackie Boy in the car on the way to the tar pits) that allows a great look at how actors and directors work when shooting digitally.
I already thought "Frank Miller's Sin City" was a five-star movie that not only sets the standard for what film noir will be in the 21st century but also advances the cause of digital filmmaker. That it brings Miller's characters and story to life while remaining faithful to his artistic style is a bonus for those whose introduction to "Sin City" was the graphic novels, but that was what Miller and wanted and what Rodriguez delivered with his little test run. If you held out on getting this movie on DVD until the special features version was available it was well worth your wait, and if you have been duped into giving the studio even more of your money for this upgrade you will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that Rodriguez delivered for you as well.