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.