- Frank Miller
- Robert Rodriguez
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, August 18, 2005
That’s right: Rodriguez used the graphic novels as storyboards and filmed them almost frame by frame identical, using an emulating photography and identical “shots” and dialogue. If some scenes were left out, it was to trim down the running time a little, not because there was anything to be wasted. The result? Hmm… well, let’s say comic books and movies are different kinds of media and some translation is necessary, which wasn’t done here too well, but it’s still an entertaining movie.
Before I go on and after that half negative comment, I’ll state that “Sin City” is the single greatest series of comics (in this case graphic novels) that I’ve ever read. Frank Miller’s art is outstanding and completely effective, and the whole universe is mesmerizing in the way it depicts some inner depths of human beings and also puts together several things the author evidently likes, which also happen to add to the noirish feel of it all. The film takes three books from the series and intertwines them by using the elements they have in common. The stories are the original “Sin City” (later renamed “The Hard Good-bye”), “That Yellow Bastard” and “The Big Fat Kill”.
So we get to see these stories, in something of an episodic fashion. There’s the one starring psychotic but goodhearted Marv (Mickey Rourke), who goes against cops and mobs to track down the killer of a hooker who was nice to him (Jaime King) after he was set up to appear to be the killer. Then there’s the other of crazed Dwight (Clive Owen), who gets into trouble along with the town’s hookers when they kill a man way more powerful than they imagined. And there’s the one of good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis), who stops a pedophile (Nick Stahl) before another crime, then has to take the blame and stay in jail for years to avoid any harm to the girl he saved (Makenzie Vega).
The stories are amazing and the performers astounding, and quite similar to their characters from the graphic novels. Great casting job there, imagine several familiar faces and all fitting their characters! Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood and many others do a fantastic job. The standout is Rourke however, in a hell of a comeback.
So what was my quibble? Oh yes. Firstly, I thought the dialogue from the books was great when you were admiring a picture that could say a million things at once, but here it seemed rather odd at times and talky at others, because all you’re seeing, like it or not, are images that were shot, not drawn. In general the same thing made the movie rather slow, and the stories seemed to never get to an end, and to me, only Hartigan’s was worth the while (good that it was the last one by the way). On the other hand, the way the stories were combined wasn’t too effective, because even though they share the same scenario they’re not really linked or similar, and not everyone is Quentin Tarantino (by the way, Tarantino’s guest direction of the car sequence with Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro seemed rather unnecessary and more a practice for him to shoot in digital video than anything else!).
The visuals are stunning, by the way, to end in a positive note. I understand it was all filmed with a green screen as background, and everything else was added later, and there’s no complaint there, but all the contrary. Also great photography all along. Rodriguez did most or all of it I believe. And he also co-wrote the music score, which isn’t so great (darn, I wanted to end in a positive note!).
OK, let’s say I do recommend this film. It’s not bad at all, just never as great as its source, but hey, enjoy!
“Modern cars - they all look like electric shavers.”
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Other reviews of Sin City (2005): Morris
- Robert Rodriguez
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, August 08, 2005
The movie follows three storylines based on different stories from the comic saga. One of them has Marv (Mickey Rourke) avenging the death of the one woman who treated him nicely in the world: Goldie (Jaime King). He then uncovers a conspiracy that involves a cannibal (Elijah Wood), a corrupt priest (Rudge Hauer) and all sorts of cops and authorities. In the second one, Dwight (Clive Owen) goes after the boyfriend (Benicio del Toro) of his current flame (Brittany Murphy), which leads them into Old Town, where prostitutes, led by Gail (Rosario Dawson), are the law. In the third one, Hartigan (Bruce Willis), a cop who just saved a little girl’s life, is put into confinement by the aggressor (Nick Stahl), who happens to be the son of a Senator (Powers Boothe). That means he is falsely accused of crimes he didn’t commit, but his sole reason for living is that little girl who keeps writing him every single week.
Sin City was entirely shot in a set where only a green background and very few props were set. The actors had to imagine every surrounding and everything else was added digitally. It may sound like an over-the-top visual effects mess, but the result is nothing short of breathtaking, the perfect way to bring Miller’s drawings to life. Everything is in black & white except for few things like blood, red lips or blond hair. That gives the movie a special noirish feel that just adds to the heavily atmospheric storylines and dialogue. I especially dug how cars move in this imaginary world. The motion, the way they’re shot, everything about a character in a car is spectacular in the movie.
Such a visual orgy would not work the slightest bit if a good story wasn’t behind it, and fortunately, here we get the whole package. Miller wrote an extremely violent comic that is all about macho types and sexy women. It is all pulpy and old-fashioned. It is a world where crime takes center stage, in which we only get to see the back-alleys and the dirty swamps; a world with fractured characters trying to survive, no matter the cost; a caricature, even. And yet, it is brilliant.
It also helps that Miller wrote and drew the comic as if it were a movie storyboard. Not everything works about the translation though. The narration can get a bit dense at times; and the third story is not as interesting as the previous two, which makes the movie drag and feel overlong. Also, Quentin Tarantino serves as guest director for a scene in a car involving Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro. Impressively enough, it’s the scene I like the least in the movie, way too heavy-handed, if you ask me.
Rodriguez, who “shot and cut” the movie (among other things such as composing the terrific score with John Debney and Graeme Revell), also gets impressive performances out of most of his all-star cast. They are all up to the challenge of embodying characters that move and talk differently than real people do, but as they would on a film noir based on a comic. I happen to think that Mickey Rourke steals the movie. Perhaps because he’s also playing the best character, but he does it so well that he deserves praise. Josh Hartnett (a gentleman), Carla Gugino (very sexy!), Jaime King (magnetic), Benicio del Toro (looking rather odd and scary), Alexis Bledel (an angel), Clive Owen (intense), Rosario Dawson (fierce), Devon Aoki (extremely deadly), Brittany Murphy (tough yet vulnerable), Powers Boothe (blinded by power), Nick Stahl (sick), Bruce Willis (nostalgic), Michael Clarke Duncan (big), Rutger Hauer (disturbing), Elijah Wood (shit-your-pants creepy), Marley Shelton (classy) and Michael Madsen (asshole) are all impressive. Only rather weak link, albeit nothing too serious, is Jessica Alba, who is great while dancing, but kind of lame when talking.
A one-of-a-kind extravaganza…
“Would you hurry it up? I haven't got all night.”
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Other reviews of Sin City (2005): Groucho