Worth A Look: 16.98%
Pretty Bad: 11.73%
Total Crap: 6.79%
18 reviews, 216 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
Fancy movie technology: anyone can use it. All you need is a large enough budget and you can build literally anything. This explains why so many bad movies hope to distract you with long flashy sequences full of empty spectacle. But when a group of filmmakers with true passion and resolve get a hold of the Movie Magic Tools ... something really special can happen. Such is clearly the case with "Sin City," a movie so unique, so dark, and so damn cool that it boggles the mind while it joyously assaults the eyeballs.You think you've seen a "faithful" comic book adaptation on the big screen? Certainly the Spider-Man and X-Men movies have done a damn good job of it, but even those wholly entertaining films only delivered the true comic book "vibe" in fits and starts (mostly in the action scenes). But if you've ever wondered how it would feel to literally enter the harsh and dark world of Frank Miller's "Sin City," well then get ready to meet your new favorite movie.
"I don't believe in love at first sight; this movie runs just over two hours"
Sin City is Robert Rodriguez's Pulp Fiction. Both films present a handful of different tales, all craftily puzzle-pieced together by the end credits. It's full of great, rough-edged, raw-nosed performances. Sin City is bleakly amusing, casually cruel, eye-poppingly beautiful, and as addicting as sugar-coated crack. This movie is a collection of fairy tales for grown-ups, a series of gritty morality plays and heart-rending redemption stories, and it's a flat-out symphony of ultra-violent insanity.
Not only is this flick an instant Cult Classic and one of the most unique spins on film noir ever conceived; Sin City is one of the best times I've had in a movie theater in a really long time.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Frank Miller's novels already knows what Sin City is about:
1. A hulking brute called Marv wakes up next to the corpse of a gorgeous young hooker. Moved to a furious rage by the the gal's one night of carnal generosity, Marv finds himself: a) framed for the murder, b) hunted by the police, and c) happily willing to sate his (justified) bloodlust upon any poor idiot who crosses his path. And I won't even mention the rabid serial killer who eats people...
2. A noble guy with a new face must act as peacemaker between a few crooked cops and a town full of amazingly deadly prostitutes. Sin City pretty much redefines the phrase femme fatale, and does so quite deliciously.
3. A kind-hearted cop (who, of course, was only a few hours away from retirement) heads back into the fray to rescue one lost soul from the clutches of Sin City's most horrific degenerate ... and this is a town practically bursting with horrific degenerates.
Some may walk out of this sinful stew feeling shocked and assaulted; I've even heard a few intelligent folks refer to the movie as "misogynist" and "depraved." I happen to see the other side of the coin; Sin City is about being noble when everyone else is weak. It shows that women are often victimized by craven men ... and that women also have the power to fight back just as hard. It illustrates how ugly things can be when a punishment truly does fit the crime. For all its pervasive violence and dark cynicism, Sin City is a movie with a truly admirable moral compass. You just have to look past all the beheadings and impalements to see what I saw.
Visually...what can I say? Few movies ever put me at a loss for words, but I'll do what I can. This IS what a comic book movie should look like -- or at least: there's no way that Sin City could better replicate the dark splendor of Frank Miller's artwork. This is not a movie hobbling along on a slick-looking gimmick; it's a resoundingly faithful and truly beautiful translation from page to screen. Though it's presented mainly on a sparkling black & white palette, there are bold and vibrant splashes of color sprinkled throughout the action. All that's missing are the panel boxes and the dialogue bubbles. (I spotted at least a dozen shots in the film that are just begging for the "freeze frame" treatment!)
Much press has been paid to the large and colorful ensemble that Rodriguez has assembled, and 95% of the performers deliver excellent work -- in what must have been a fairly difficult project. (Everything was filmed in front of green screens, which certainly doesn't help an actor all that much.) Mickey Rourke is a wonderfully powerful anti-hero, and he delivers what's easily some of the best work of his (admittedly checkered) career. A solid handshake to Mr. Rodriguez for giving Mr. Rourke the gig in the first place. Classy, smart move. Bruce Willis and Clive Owen are easily Rourke's equal in their own roles. Willis is as good here as he's ever been, and that's coming from a big fan.
Littered throughout the expanse of Sin City's seamy landscape are a variety of excellent performances: young Alexis Bledel stands out particularly well, as do Elijah Wood, Carla Gugino, and the ever-dangerous Benicio Del Toro. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Although there are a few rough spots here and there (Jessica Alba being one big mistake), the cast is exceedingly strong across the board. Be sure to keep an eye peeled for great little turns from Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe, and Frank Miller himself.
I could yap on and on about the sights, the sounds, the souls, and the smells of Sin City but by this point you've already decided if this is the movie for you. And let me tell you: this is certainly NOT a movie for all tastes. To my eyes it's a gloriously grim and terrifically nasty piece of escapist entertainment, a comic-book-noir masterpiece that's full of delicious dread, terrible temptation, and shady chivalry.In a movie world full of 90% recycled & prepackaged product, "Sin City" feels like a long, lovely blast of ice-cold water right in the face. This is what happens when you combine technology, creativity, and passion into one unapologetically nasty little nugget, and I think it's one of the best movies I've seen in about ten years.
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originally posted: 04/01/05 15:22:12