Sin City is one of the most visually artistic films you’ll ever see, a comic-based movie that actually succeeds in re-creating the look and feel of its animated source material. On Blu-ray, the film looks better than ever before, but the Blu-ray Disc holds a secret that vaults the film even higher in the artistic sense: D-BOX Motion Code. Normally D-BOX code is included to help drive home the on-screen action, which it certainly does in the case of Sin City. But more important, this application of D-BOX elevates the film’s artistic qualities in a way I never expected. Maybe it’s the simple fact that Sin City has a unique look, so the inclusion of D-BOX just felt more unique too. No matter; Sin City and D-BOX are a match made in heaven.
All four episodes that comprise the film are encoded with Motion Code tracks, and because of the nature of each episode, they each have their own strengths. In Yellow Bastard, the episode opens with subtle vehicle vibrations as Bruce Willis drives to his destination, but it quickly surprises viewers with some impact-related vibrations that coincide to the left-to-right impact of a pipe to Willis’ enemies’ heads. It also includes some chair-thumping gunshot impacts that effectively communicate the on-screen action but feel a bit pedestrian compared to the direction-specific action of the pipe swings.
Fortunately, after a brief hospital-based hiatus in which there’s all nothing but dialogue, the punch-timed impacts return as Willis is beaten torture-style by an inquisitor. Twice. This scene is followed by another in which is attorney decks him for deciding to falsely confess to a crime, a punch that feels decidedly more impactful when you have a D-BOX system delivering the punch to the viewer directly. It’s arguably pretty macabre to look forward to seeing Willis beaten to a pulp, but when D-BOX enables direction-specific thumps like this, it’s forgivable, right? Right?
There are some artistic shots in Yellow Bastard in which the camera pans at unique angles, but the D-BOX engineers wisely decided not to move the D-BOX actuators accordingly. Instead, they stick to their strengths of vehicular-based movements and the aforementioned punch movements, both of which are at the top of their game in this episode. The car-chase and car-wreck scene at the 27-minute mark is especially well done, with the D-BOX chair moving perfectly in time with the barrel rolls and swerving. Not many movies include this type of on-screen action; generally it’s just rumbling and an occasional hard turn. But tumbles and cookies? Talk about perfectly suited for D-BOX Motion Code.
In The Customer is Always Right, on the other hand, the first exposure viewers have to D-BOX motion is tied directly into camera movements in the opening sequence. Of course, this episode is only six minutes long, so that’s also viewers’ only D-BOX experience.
The Hard Goodbye, the episode that features Mickey Rourke, makes up for this shortness completely, with more D-BOX Motion Code in its opening four minutes than in Sin City’s previous hour combined. Cops bust through Rourke’s door; the D-BOX platform jolts accordingly. Gunshots ring out and puncture the walls; the edges of the chair thump with each impact. Rourke leaps down 12 flights of stairs; the platform wobbles to coincide with his airborne spinning. And when Rourke jumps into the air and through a patrol car’s windshield, the Motion actuators deliver by far the most intense, bone-rattling impact I’ve ever felt in any D-BOX-equipped movie. Viewers get a six-minute breather or so while Rourke patches himself up, with only a few environmental/ambient movements, but then it’s back to punch-related impacts as Rourke takes out a couple of hitmen — and a priest. Nobody said they didn’t know how Sin City got its name.
Still, most of this episode’s Motion is comprised of punches, whether it’s prostitutes hitting Rourke, cops hitting Rourke, Rourke hitting a priest or Frodo Baggins — er, Elijah Wood as a bespectacled mute ninja cannibal — beating the snot out of Rourke in the woods. In other words, if Rourke’s in a scene, you’re probably rocking.
The final episode, The Big Fat Kill, doesn’t really wow with its effects, although it’s no fault of the D-BOX engineers. This episode has gunshot motions, vehicular rumbles, camera-based motion, punch-related impacts, and all of them are well executed. It’s just that none of them stand above the rest, whereas each of the previous episodes has one element or scene that dominates the vignette. Theoretically the sequence in which the katana-wielding prostitute kills a car-full of corrupt cops would be outstanding, since it’s filled with D-BOX motion, but the scene itself is cartoony and melodramatic, cheapening the D-BOX experience. Again, it’s no fault of the Motion Code itself, which is well done, it’s just the presentation of the scenes themselves.
As a complete package, though, Sin City on Blu-ray with D-BOX support is one of the premier demo movies for any Motion Code system. Two of the episodes are “passable” in terms of support, but the other two, particularly The Hard Goodbye, more than make up the difference. If you’re new to D-BOX or want to show off the Motion Code technology, there’s no better film than Sin City to do it.
- Score: 9
- Two episodes really stand out for their Motion Code, but even the other two can’t bring down the excellent execution of D-BOX in this film.
— Jonas Allen