Brutal and breathtaking, Sin City
is Robert Rodriguez's stunningly realized vision of Frank Miller's pulpy comic books. In the first of three separate but loosely related stories, Marv (Mickey Rourke in heavy makeup) tries to track down the killers of a woman who ended up dead in his bed. In the second story, Dwight's (Clive Owen) attempt to defend a woman from a brutal abuser goes horribly wrong, and threatens to destroy the uneasy truce among the police, the mob, and the women of Old Town. Finally, an aging cop on his last day on the job (Bruce Willis) rescues a young girl from a kidnapper, but is himself thrown in jail. Years later, he has a chance to save her again.
Based on three of Miller's immensely popular and immensely gritty books (The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard), Sin City is unquestionably the most faithful comic-book-based movie ever made. Each shot looks like a panel from its source material, and director Rodriguez (who refers to it as a "translation" rather than an adaptation) resigned from the Directors Guild so that Miller could share a directing credit. Like the books, it's almost entirely in stark black and white with some occasional bursts of color (a woman's red lips, a villain's yellow face). The backgrounds are entirely digitally generated, yet not self-consciously so, and perfectly capture Miller's gritty cityscape. And though most of Miller's copious nudity is absent, the violence is unrelentingly present. That may be the biggest obstacle to viewers who aren't already fans of the books and who may have been turned off by Kill Bill (whose director, Quentin Tarantino, helmed one scene of Sin City). In addition, it's a bleak, desperate world in which the heroes are killers, corruption rules, and the women are almost all prostitutes or strippers. But Miller's stories are riveting, and the huge cast--which also includes Jessica Alba, Jaime King, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Nick Stahl, Michael Clarke Duncan, Devin Aoki, Carla Gugino, and Josh Hartnett--is just about perfect. (Only Bruce Willis and Michael Madsen, while very well-suited to their roles, seem hard to separate from their established screen personas.) In what Rodriguez hopes is the first of a series, Sin City is a spectacular achievement. --David Horiuchi, Amazon.com
Adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novels, SIN CITY is Robert Rodriguez's striking film noir infused with fantasy, taking place in a world where it is eternally night time and everything is drenched in rain and violence. Using a unique combination of silvery black and white digital photography with occasional flashes of bright colour for dazzling punctuation, Rodriguez employs green screen techniques and paints a backdrop around each scene, using Miller's co-direction as his cue to match the original setting as closely as possible. Three stories weave together, occasionally overlapping. With lines delivered flatly in the hard-boiled style of Raymond Chandler, these tales are about crime, love, loss, and being preternaturally tough. In the most caustically dramatic segment, Mickey Rourke plays the fearlessly love struck Marv, a trench coat-clad beast who falls in love with prostitute Goldie (Jaime King) only to find her murdered by a demonic cannibal (Elijah Wood). In another segment, Bruce Willis plays Hartigan, a rogue cop with a 'bum ticker' whose goal in life is to save Nancy (Jessica Alba), an innocent stripper, from a murderous rapist (Nick Stahl). The third segment stars Clive Owen as a detective caught between murdered cop Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) and a slew of lethally dangerous vixens lead by Gail (Rosario Dawson). With blood spurting white, yellow, and yes even red; a roster of hot actors that goes on and on; and sound editing that makes you feel like you're the one being punched in the face, SIN CITY is a gift for fans of Miller's art, loaded with style and grit.Stills from Sin City (click for larger image).