Tuesday, April 05, 2005

View Number Two: Movie Review

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, and you can find anything.

--Marv, Sin City

Frank Miller's Sin City (Three Stars)

This visually stunning medley of stories, projected from the pages of Frank Miller's graphic novels, is deeply gruesome and engrossing. The thick, stylish noir of Sin City is certainly an entrancing experience, but I would not be surprised if someone somewhere vomited in the asile due to watching this movie. The characters are grim, the violence is gory, the subject matter is hefty, and the vile nature of some of the events can be mentally arresting. However, in defense of a well-told tale, the characters are deep, emotional, and well-portrayed, while the story is tense and enveloping as disturbing revelations unfold.

Sin City is a mixture of three stories involving Hartigan (Bruce Willis), an old but noble hard-boiled cop, Marv (Mickey Rourke), a maniacal human brick killing his way to ultimate vengeance, and Dwight (Clive Owen), a guy with a dark past willing to kill and die for old friends. Between these three tales we get a sordid glimpse at Basin City, a place seemingly constructed of the most vile and destitue of human qualities. The cops are crooked. The senator's family that rules the city is evil. Old town is run by a death squad of prostitutes. In the midst of this scenery our protagonists (it would be a stretch to call them heroes) battle rapists, serial killers, mercenaries, mob families, prostitutes, and cops. And when I say "battle," you need to include gut-flinching gore and vicious torture. Of course it is surprising how much emotional impact these scenes can have when most of it is in black and white.

Dispite my gruesome description of the film, I must say that I was impressed on many levels. The story was solid, the acting and characters were fascinating, and the style felt old and fresh at the same time. Bottom Line: Sin City is a good, thick, juicy piece of noir... if you stomach it well. For the talented mark of stylish storytelling that it is, I liked it. Overly grim? Yes. Definitely, not on my list of favorites, but I respect a well-told tale.


At 11:04 PM, Blogger j.m. said...

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At 11:06 PM, Blogger j.m. said...

When the DVD for this film comes out you'll have to do a 2nd review, Adam. The DVD will include quite a bit of additional footage cut from the theatrical release. As the director Robert Rodriguez is a big fan of the DVD medium, he made the movie with the DVD in mind. Parts of the film were made strictly for the DVD release and were excluded from the theatrical cut on purpose.

Quoting from the link below:
"We shot the full stories of the books," Rodriguez says. "And I knew we could truncate it down, we weren't going to lose any scenes. Eventually they would all be available for people to see. The DVD will come out with the theatrical cut, and then there will be a separate disc that's got the individual episodes separate with their own title card and you could just watch The Big Fat Kill from beginning to end in its full cut as a single story and then switch over and watch The Yellow Bastard, and that's 45 minutes. It will have all the material back in, so it will be like the experience of picking up the books where you pick up one story and you read it from beginning to end and it will have all the material in it. So you can kind of shuffle your own version of the movie and just watch them all separately." - Robert Rodriguez

Read an interview about it here:
DVD preview

(disclaimer: I have not and will not end up seeing this movie. I don't care how good it was.)

At 6:21 PM, Blogger The Niem said...

This is not a movie I will suggest others see. Obviously, if you want to see it, go right ahead, but you probably won't hear me telling people to go out and see this film. Good film. Not exactly what I would describe as a "Must-See."

On another note, did you enjoy the review? As movie reviews go: decent? sloppy? incomplete? satisfying? Hmmm?

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Tyler said...

Gotta disagree with The Neim a little here, as I went and saw it with him.

We both agreed that it wasn't a movie we'd watch again. Once was enough.

The actors were for the most part, pretty good. Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Hardigan (Bruce Willis) were great characters well-acted, and a lot of the supporting cast was good. But those that were not slowed the movie down.

The visuals are fantastic - you really feel you are in a comic-book world. A character is submerged, and all you see is his sillouette in white surrounded my black nothingness. Most of the time, everything in black-and-white - except for two of the "stories," in which one character has for one additional color. The opening scene is based on Miller's "Lady in Red" story, and everything is grayscale except for her red gown and red lips. Very dramatic, and very cool to see.

But the movie is incredibly grim. Not entirely the movie's fault - if anything, they were faithful to the comic books. But you come out of the movie shocked and depressed.

It is difinitely noir; in Basin City, there is little good. Most cops are corrupt; the entire clergy is corrupt; the only real law is the gun. The only remotely sympathetic people are minor criminals, or are falsely accused of horrible crimes. In two of the stories, the main character embarks on a suicidal spree; in one case, for vengenance; in the other, for duty. In the big scheme of things, the heroes' lives are risked not because the end goal is more valuable, but because their lives have no more value, even to themselves.

And Hardigan's (Willis) final scene is heartbreaking. That's all I'll say about that.

So, in short, a grim, depressing movie.


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