3D - good. No Recut, Extended version - bad.
Back in 2005, a sequel to the sleeper hit Sin City should have been a no-brainer, but the best part of a decade on and audiences are understandably more hesitant to embrace this earnest but flawed follow-up.Indeed, watched back-to-back with the original, this return feels far more enjoyable, but it still does not have quite the same spark, passion or even punch. Fans will still eventually embrace the long-anticipated return to the black-and-white-with-a-splash-of-colour Basin City limits, where sex and violence are traded in almost equal measure, but some of the magic has certainly rubbed off in the intervening years.
Stripped down to a slightly abrupt 100-odd minute runtime, we speed through the four new tales – again, some old, and some new – with little care for building characters or developing story, instead taking the style-over substance approach with fast-paced, highly stylised action and a rogue’s gallery of colourful souls who crack wise through grit – and often bloodied – teeth. Nothing new here then, because you certainly didn’t come to this town expecting well-developed characters or deep and meaningful stories.The Miller-flavoured noir-esque tales – as lensed through the vision of both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller himself – were always better on paper; where their pulpish brutality and minimalist design allowed the reader’s brain to fill in the gaps in whatever way they wanted, but these often straight-from-the-page interpretations try their best to bring the acquired taste stories to life, even if they don’t find it as easy as last time around. And whilst the new cast/character additions don’t always work (Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, even Eva Green looks the part, but doesn’t convince), the welcome returns (Mickey Rourke and even, shockingly, Jessica Alba) give us some surprisingly enjoyable moments.
Certainly this sequel is the weaker of the two collections, but that is also in part due to the source material – with many of the best tales having already been used up first time around. Of course it could also be because the movie has been streamlined again to suit a cinema-friendly runtime, but with no sign of a Recut, Extended Version to fill in the gaps, fans might have to endure The Long Wait to make the most of this flawed follow-up.
Blu-ray Picture QualityWhatever you might feel about returning to Basin City, visually it’s arguably even more impressive ten years on. Whilst the first movie was striking in its unusual monochrome – with a hint of colour – presentation, taking comic book adaptations to another level, almost a decade on and this kind of stylisation is more than familiar. What sets it apart this time around is the additional layer of 3D which, despite the fact that it simply shouldn’t work – you would assume that a near-entirely night-set feature would hardly make for great 3D – does. Indeed, the 3D is used almost as inventively as in something like Dredd, truly giving another dimension to the proceedings.
One odd thing, though, is that – again, just like Dredd – this release provides the 2D and 3D versions on one single disc (unlike the US counterpart). Still at least, unlike Dredd, the shortchanging doesn’t appear to have had any effect on the presentation.
The 2D version, complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition presentation framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, looks pretty stunning as it is, with a near-perfect image that boasts excellent clarity, strong contrast, and deep blacks which pervade the piece. Detail is outstanding, bringing the characters and city to life in a way which even the comic books were not able to do.
Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy this version of the movie is in all its wonderfully-implemented 3D glory.
On the 3D front though, it’s even more impressive. The 1080p/MVC-encoded presentation boasts some wonderful depth and perspective. Objects – weapons, bullets, glass and even characters – frequently come right out of the screen, and, for once, it actually suits the material. There’s a wonderful roundedness to it all as well, with seamless layering right the way through into the deep backgrounds of the cityscape. Excellent stuff.
Blu-ray Sound Quality
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is pretty damn engaging too, providing an engulfing mix which does almost as much as the 3D visuals to bring the city to life.
Dialogue takes precedence over the rest of the elements wherever required, remaining clear and coherent throughout, and well-preserved across the fronts and centre channels, but it’s the effects that truly stand out. The distinctive score provides a welcome background accompaniment, further fuelling the surround channels and keeping the full array active almost consistently. The effects are myriad, ad involve some superior dynamics; the atmosphere proving enveloping even during the quieter moments, and positively lighting up once things get chaotic. It’s demo quality through and through; an excellent audio presentation to match up to the reference video.
Blu-ray ExtrasCuriously, aside from losing the disc separation of 2D and 3D versions, the UK release also loses one of the main extras – the 16 minute fast-forwarded green-screen version of the entire movie. Instead we get an exclusive 30 minute Behind the Scenes Featurette, which comes complete with cast and crew Q & A, interviews, behind the scenes snippets and green-screen shots. Whilst we probably got the better end of the deal, I’m not sure we needed to lose the green-screen version in the process. All of the other extras are present and correct – a series of character profiles and two short Featurettes on the Stunts and Makeup – but the pre-viz segment (and a theatrical trailer) appear to have been lost along with the separate 2D disc. Curious.
Blu-ray VerdictIt’s actually been tough to remain positive about Sin City 2, despite the soft spot that I have for both the original graphic novels and the first movie. On the one hand, it’s nice to be back in Basin City; on the other hand, it doesn’t quite feel the same. The stories aren’t as engaging, and aren’t as well-adapted, and the new actors/characters don’t gel as well as the old and recurring cast do. It’s great to see Rourke back, and it’s a shock to find Alba’s story the most interesting, but beyond these two actors and character’s there’s plenty that doesn’t quite work – even when it really should.
I have no doubts that a Recut Extended Version would significantly improve this flawed sequel but, with no sign of it on the horizon, this release comes as something of a let-down.
Thankfully outstanding video and audio presentations make things much more attractive (even if the 2D/3D is on just one disc) and there are a few nice extras. Best watched in 3D, fans should make the best of this decent package and hope for a double-dip at some point in the future; those who loved the original may want to try and rental first and hold off a purchase that little bit longer in case a better version of the film gets released.
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