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With Hellboy, Guillermo Del Toro lovingly recreated panels from
artist/creator Mike Mignola's comic book stories and brought them to
vibrant life, setting a new benchmark for adaptations that respect
their source material. With Sin City, however, co-directors Robert
Rodriguez and Frank Miller have done more than just recreate the brutal
chiaroscuro of Miller's stark post-modern noir artwork, they've
captured the essence and the aesthetic of Basin City (as much a
character as Marv or Hartigan) and brought its universe and characters
to a stunning three-dimensional life. And unlike Hellboy, which
suffered from a weak, confusing script, Sin City weaves a Pulp
Fiction-esque narrative which snakes through the dark streets and
crooked alleyways of this hellish metropolis like a fever dream.
In short, Sin City delivers a blistering ballet of bullets and blood, dames and danger at every turn. It's a kinetic masterpiece of pop culture for the new millennium (and a case could be made that this was the movie that CGI was invented for).
As a Frank Miller fan for over 25 years, I know his work and I know Sin City and this Sin City will knock your socks off whether you are a fan or a newcomer to the dark delights of his devilish imagination and brutal style. Exceeding my expectations on all levels, this movie ranks as one of the most enjoyable cinema-going experiences I've had in years.
Everything works here. From Rodriguez's cinematography and editing, to the seamless direction (no mean feat when you consider Robert co-directed with Miller and Quentin Tarantino joined the mix as "Special Guest Director"), to the spot-on casting. The script gives Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro plenty of opportunity to chew the scenery and they do, especially Rourke, who, despite having his mug buried under a thick layer of gruesome latex, delivers one of the best performances of his career and steals the show as Marv, the giant thug with a broken heart. The ladies hold their own, too. Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Brittany Murphy and Jaime King are all great in their roles, particularly Dawson as machine gun-wielding Dominatrix/Hooker-Godmother Gail. And kudos to Elijah Wood (proving there is life after Hobbits) and Nick Stahl who deliver contrasting performances as vile villains, the ultra-creepy Kevin and the disgusting Yellow bastard, respectively.
Sin City is smart, stylish, sexy and sick. It's also violent and funny. Certainly not a film for the whole family, but for those of us who enjoy our movies rated R, this flick kicks the head and the gut like a mule.
Here's hoping Sin City makes a mint, for there are 10,000 stories in the naked (sinful) city, and this is but a handful of them. I'm already praying for a sequel.
A picture perfect "ten" for this cineast.
I caught the Philly sneak preview of "Sin City" yesterday, and I have to say my hat is off. Few comic book movies have ever looked good on screen. The X-Men and Spider Man movies have done a good job breaking that stigma. In my opinion the aforementioned flicks have been a perfect melding of Hollywood and the Comic book universe, but "Sin City" elevates it to an art form, literally. It is hands down, the best representation of a comic book turned film ever. After catching the trailer on a TV commercial, I was intrigued, to say the least. So I went to my local comic book store and bought the Frank Miller books the movie is based on, and enjoyed them for their off beat humor, incredible violence, and stories of love, lust, friendship, honor and seedily-earned redemption in the underworld of fictional Basin City. Upon further contact with the Comic Book store owner, he clued me in to the sneak preview on the 16th of March (yesterday as I post this), so like a kid on his way to pick up the latest issues of whatever comics are popular these days, I took the day off and went to the showing. Having recently read the stories that are included in the film ("Sin City," later renamed to "The Hard Goodbye"; "The Big Fat Kill;" and "That Yellow Bastard"), I was amazed at how much of the dialogue and narration of the books actually made it to the big screen translation. This coming from a guy whose heart was ripped out by the bastardization of "The Sum of All Fears," bear in mind - I know what it's like to have a book you love not be given the loving attention we feel it deserves when it hits the big screen. The dialogue isn't always the best (it's a comic book, not Shakespeare, people) and even the best acting in the world won't change that. But seriously, if you're paying attention to that minor blemish, you're missing the point of the movie to begin with. Aside from the dialogue, the imagery in the film is something to be appreciated, whether you like the stories or not. Equally beautiful and gritty black and white, with occasional brushes of color that all but explode off the screen- the comic books (graphic novels to you purists) act like storyboards for this movie- as life is breathed into the still images on the pages. The "From Book to Screen" section that is no doubt going to be a feature on the future DVD release of this movie will no doubt drop a few jaws for those that haven't bothered to check out the source material. Cold, cruel humor and over-the-top, audience-wince-inducing violence are blended in the style of "Pulp Fiction" and "From Dusk 'Till Dawn" for obvious reasons, but as I stated before, it's all direct from the books. Kudos to Robert Rodriguez for not compromising in the making of this film and for his commitment to the original source material; and also to his co-director Frank Miller for his obvious contributions. And to the actors in it- the cavalcade of them. My favorite performance was turned in by Mickey Rourke for playing Marv absolutely letter perfect from the book (and he demonstrates one of the best narrative voices I've heard in a movie since Morgan Freeman in "The Shawshank Redemption"). Elijah Wood has a non-speaking role, but his Kevin will follow you home as much as Nick Stahl's Junior does. Clive Owen is solid as Dwight (and I know a lot of geek fan-boys out there were upset that he was picked for the character) and Bruce Willis does what he does best as a cop that won't quit, Hartigan. The standout female performance is a toss up between either Rosario Dawson for her valkyrie, warrior, hooker Gail, or (it kills me to say it) Brittany Murphy as a "His Girl Friday" cocktail waitress. The movie is definitely not for all tastes, and kids shouldn't be allowed in buildings even next to theaters showing this movie- but it will no doubt be a hotly discussed film as we creep through Hollywood's typically "phoned-in, pre-Summer" Feb/March/April offerings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sin City in its original serialized comic form was everything that one
would expect from the then well known artist/writer/creator Frank
Miller and more. Many would come to say that it is his best work.
For years it was a world that only existed on paper in black and white with splashes of color, but it was enough to make Sin City live and breath in ways that few others in the medium have ever been able to come close to. Because Miller's dark, noir overtones painted a very clear, and fully realized picture of every seedy back alley and strip club, and cheap motel room in the fictional Basin City it became painfully obvious that it was just too visceral a place to ever be real in a way that could be encapsulated on film, or at least we, including Miller himself, thought. We were wrong.
This is THE comic movie we have been waiting for and it does not disappoint from the first overly dramatic voice-over to the last frame of the credit scroll. Telling three tales from Miller's world (The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard) the comic transitions from paper to cellulose flawlessly and believably with a grace seldom seen. This ease is especially incredible for something so over the top and stylized like this that it's almost hard to imagine that these are the actors you've grown to know and love for years. But they are and it all comes together beautifully.
The cast, crew, and artists involved in making this adaptation a reality should be commended for their service to the idea that a true comic book movie can, in fact, be made without making concessions to the masses, without altering the plot or changing the characters, and still manage to retain the feel that the ink on paper had while creating a truly entertaining film. Much of this film's success can be directly contributed to the fantastic casting job which encompasses an incredibly long list of a-list and up and coming celebs plus a few obscure but cult favorites (yes, I'm talking to you Rutger) and the tag team direction of Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez should be particularly touted for pushing Miller to finally do this project, and for leading the way to make this the film that Miller always wanted it to be and that Rodriguez knew he could make.
While I do have a few nit-picky points of contention with cut dialog or certain actors/actresses that refused to bare it all for the sake of keeping intact every last detail from the books it doesn't change the fact that what was laid out on the polyester film stock before me was every bit as entertaining as the original works, and it made a pretty darn good flick to boot. If it's not already self-evident, the bar has been raised for the comic movie. The next brave soul willing to venture in had better be prepared to take on Sin City.
Just watched the Advance Screening last night and I must say that this
movie pulls all the punches in violence. It deserves its hard R rating
in the first five minutes and doesn't let up until the end credits
roll. It has it all - bullets, boobs and be-headings - beautifully set
in a grim atmosphere that really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
All cast performances were excellent - especially Mickey Rourke's
"Marv" character. Fans of the comic will not be disappointed in this
film adaption. This movie is definitely not for the squeamish or
Sin City grabs you by the nuts and doesn't let go! A must see!
I must admit that I know, or knew rather, very little about the story
or history of Frank Miller and his series of comic book novels - and
maybe that is why I enjoyed this movie so much. Although, this is still
a different type of situation where one who was a big fan of the
stories might be seriously critical of every little detail of the comic
book turned movie. I don't believe anyone who considers themselves
truly knowledgeable about Miller's work can say that this was not
represented well on the big screen. I'm now intrigued to go back and
check out some of his work.
That aside, as far as it being a movie and a work of art, I would give this movie high marks in both categories. For it being a movie, it was nice to see something so different as far as the approach to making it go. Also, having such an incredible cast makes it all the more intriguing. I don't see anyone else having portrayed any of these characters any better than the cast that was hired to do so.
On an artistic level, it is extremely hard to think of any other movie that comes close to being in the same league. I did not see Sky Captain, but I would say that anyone who liked Pleasantville for its cinematography and graphic elements, would love Sin City. The use of black and white photography with only specific colors added later make for a far more dramatic effect. And so much of the cinematography being so close to a "moving picture" version of comic book art simply makes this movie worth seeing.
Take the artistic elements of this movie, and put it together with the amazing cast (both looks and talent) and throw it together with a very different but coherent plot, and you've got yourself an extremely enjoyable movie that is definitely worth seeing. And seeing at the theater no less!
My hats off to Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and the rest of the cast and crew for putting together something different for a change.
My only complaint about the whole movie - the use of labeling Quentin Tarantino as a "Special Guest Director" is almost too lame to deal with.
Went to a sneak preview of this movie today, and I was blown away. Over
the years people have tried to emulate the feel of comics on the
screen, and met with mild success(Dick Tracy), minor failure(Hulk), and
solid success(Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow). This is hard to
do, but Sin City hits this dead on. The film is entirely in black and
white(Except for about 20 seconds that I noticed in one scene.), except
for highlights of color(Gorgeous eyes, splattered blood, and red
Converse All-Stars to name a few.). This gives the film a feel that
immerses you into the storyline. Add to this the overly corny duologue
and scenes where scantily(And I DO mean scantily) clad women pull Uzi's
out of literally nowhere, and you have all the right makings for a
transfer of a comic book to the screen. The duologue had me laughing
almost constantly, but it's easy to tell that they wanted you to laugh,
even when they lines were incredibly corny and melodramatic...
The performances in the movie were great as well. I believe my favorite male character was Marv, played by Micky Rourke, and my favorite female character was definitely Miho, played by Devon Aoki. It seems that everyone and their dog was either in this movie, or lent some of their talents to it, and it shows.
I would definitely suggest that you see this in the theatre the very first time, because it will NEVER have the same impact on your TV at home as it does on a 30-foot screen in a dark theatre. I was actually able to note a few times where the digital cameras were able to outperform anything film could do.
A lot of violence in this movie, although most of it is either totally cartoon-style, or off camera, and some gore as well... A good amount of nudity in the film, ALL of it on camera, so you'll probably want to leave the kiddies at home.
All in all, one of the best movies I have seen in a long time, and I'll probably go see it again while it's in the theatres, so that my fiancé can enjoy it as well...
I'm only a marginal comics fan - I read a bunch of stuff over the
course of a year or two in college and haven't read much at all since.
Frank Miller was my favorite writer then and the I always loved the Sin
City series. I didn't realize the movie was even being made until I saw
the notice for the preview screening (if that's an indication of how
much I follow comics these days).
This movie was as perfect an adaptation of those books as I could imagine. The look, cast, atmosphere, everything was just spot on. The stories were all gripping and intertwined with each other nicely and I thought the brief Josh Hartnett spots were great bookends to the movie. I was amazed the entire length of the screening.
If you're into comics at all you'll love this movie. You won't be disappointed. I'm not sure how to recommend it to others but you certainly don't need to be a comics fan to enjoy it. I loved it without reservation.
If I was to use one word to describe this film it would have to be....Violent! if i was allowed two words I would add 'Visceral'. The movie is two hours long and is structured in a similar way to Pulp Fiction. A bunch of stories set in a consistent world, with characters falling in and out of each others plot lines. On the whole it works brilliantly, and for the duration there isn't a boring moment. It is High octane, million miles and hour storytelling, and it EASILY Robert Rodriguez's best film. Allowing Frank Miller to write the script was a fantastic move, as the dialogue is edgy, witty and VERY faithful to the original material. In fact, many many lines are just taken straight from the pages. likewise, the camera behaves like a moving cartoon box out. The framing of all the key scenes is SO faithful to the printed page that it produces a truly original look that is fairly incomparable. Visually its a true original. Sometimes these visuals fall down, there are some very very obvious digital shots that don't quite gel, but on the whole the cinematography is jaw dropping. You could literally pause the movie at almost any point and just hang that frame on a wall, its that beautiful. Performances are good all round. Mickey Rourke absolutely nails Marv, and the girls of Old Town are all as beautiful as they are deadly. The other standout for me was Elijah Wood, who was truly chilling. Bruce Willis puts in a solid, if unspectacular turn as Hartigan. The film isn't entirely void of criticism. there's some fudging of time lines with Hartigans character (do we really buy Bruce Willis as a nearly 70 year old man?) and the jumps from story to story are jarring initially, but once it settles into itself the ride is fantastic. My other main criticism is the same I have with Quentin Tarantinos work. That every character and every voice in the movie is the same. This is more a fault of the source material, but when every single person is a wise cracking, hard boiled tough guy (even the women) then it kind of distills the effect of their toughness. In a film that is predominantly voice over driven, it is hard to differentiate characters when they all sound exactly the same, both tonally, and in the language they use. Even Marv, who's supposed to be a meat head, talks in gravelly prose that would make Bukowski feel like a Nancy. Other Minor niggles are hardly worth mentioning. From a technical standpoint the sound effects are WAY to loud. All of the punches, gunshots etc are given such ridiculous prominence on the track that they threaten to make mockery of the violence. I actually found that i didn't want any more guns fired cos it was hurting my ears! all in all though, its one hell of a ride, and only a couple of notches below Pulp Fiction on the 'Oh my god that film was cool-o-meter'.
Channel surfing late one night I stumbled across this film and stopped to look because of the unusual cinematography. It's visually stunning, mostly in b&w and that evokes a film noir atmosphere punctuated with those brilliant flashes of color. Two minutes later I couldn't take my eyes away. This unique film is superbly executed, the casting, the screenplay, the special effects, everything about it. As we all know, there is an expansive library of film work out there for a wide range of tastes and sensibilities. If yours are delicate, if you are offended by gore and violence, then this film will NOT be your cup of tea. Stay away from it. But if both the horror and film noir genres appeal to you, you'll probably find this movie as captivating as I did.
I just came back from an advance screening of Sin City, and I can tell you this is one salient reel of pitch of a film. Think of it as film noir amped up for a post modern century. It comes across like most of Frank Miller's writing, modestly fantastic for the comic environment, but steeped long and hard in the tradition of the underground crime writers of the '40's. Visually, the juxtaposition of the rich B&W with digitally-hued Technicolor makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen. This film was tailor made for most of the people who have been following Miller's writing for the past twenty odd years, brimming with many of his trademark elements and visual style that he, along with Messrs. Rodriguez and Tarantino, capture brilliantly. Not for more sensitive or under aged souls, Sin City will burn like a fire that you have to watch for everyone else.
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