Sin City Will Kick Your Ass--Then, Perhaps, Take Your Name
Because, yes, I wanted to post it again.
I've been hyped about Sin City, as might have been evident by my two different "Movies To See" posts on it. Then I started to read the reviews and they generally were good. Everything I heard seemed to suggest that I was going to quite enjoy the movie. So last Monday, I took off to the theater in the afternoon to check the film out.
Damn, damn, Sin City is one hell of a great movie. It starts out a bit rough, with an opening story starring Bruce Willis's character. This opening struck me as weak when compared with what came afterward. Also, in the beginning, it's hard to get used to the dialogue. I knew going in that the writing would be that way--I wasn't going in blind, completely surprised by the tone and style of story--but it still was hard not to groan at the lines.
However, then the Bruce Willis story ended and Marv's began. At that point, I was pretty much gone. The movie kicked into high gear, the characters became much more interesting and the dialogue suddenly seemed just fine--perfect, in fact.
The visual style of this movie is incredible. Frank Miller is listed as a co-director because, basically, his graphic novels were used as storyboards by Robert Rodriguez. And there is no question here that this is an incredibly faithful adaptation. In fact, this may be the best comic book movie--if you want to call it a comic book--in terms of capturing the look and feel of the source material. Spiderman has been done very well, without question, but Sin City goes above and beyond in staying true to the original material.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, the visual style is black and white for the most part, with occasional splashes of color to enhance certain effects, characters, or items. Digital effects are used widely and effectively to create a world that is the equivalent of what is seen in the graphic novels. The city is brought to life wonderfully, beautifully, and the visuals do exactly what they should do: better pull the viewer into the story and capture not only their attention, but their imagination. When color shows up on the screen, it really stands out but it never acts as a distraction, either. It works wonderfully with the way the movie is laid out.
The movie is not one long story but rather a series of interconnected tales weaving together a wide cast of characters. The stories interrelate and overlap, but they stand on their own, as well. They don't fall quite in chronological order, either. Of the stories, Marv's is easily the most entertaining and fascinating, but the other ones hold their own, as well. While the story of Hartigan (Bruce Willis's character) starts out somewhat slow, it becomes much more interesting when it reemerges later in the film.
The cast is great, particularly Mickey Rourke as Marv and Clive Owen as Dwight. (In general, I'm becoming more and more impressed with Clive Owen. His turn in Closer was flat out amazing.) Everyone seems to delve into the movie whole heartedly, without a bit of hesitation or uncertainty. They commit themselves to bringing this very peculiar and distinct world to life and allowing it to grow and breathe over the course of the movie. Robert Rodriguez, the director, does an amazing job, committing himself just as much to bringing to life Miller's graphic novels. It's pretty clear that he has a real love for these stories and that he was determined to represent them properly on the screen.
This movie is sick and twisted and dark and completely unapologetic. It thrives on violence and vice, the characters often sympathetic but always on a dark and dangerous path. The world is oppressive and dark and yet it somehow manages not to be too overwhelming or depressing. The film stays entertaining and enjoyable even as terrible events are constantly occurring and characters that we are rooting for are meeting terrible fates. It's an interesting and impressive balancing act.
There has been talk about the similarities between Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow in the sense of the extensive use of digital imagery in both movies to create the worlds in which they're set. While I did quite enjoy Sky Captain, there's no doubt that Sin City is a more impressive movie and a better story. Sky Captain used it's digital wizardry, in large part, as an impressive effect meant to dazzle the audience. Meanwhile, while Sin City is, without a doubt, very impressive, every bit of digital imagery is focused on the goal of creating this world that is necessary for the story to thrive in. It all comes back to the characters, to the writing, to the story and is never exclusively about wowing the audience, which is sometimes how Sky Captain seemed to be. In that sense, Sin City is a more mature and accomplished film and it better shows the way in which pervasive digital imagery can benefit and advance the art of movie-making.
So I loved Sin City. All those great-looking trailers proved to be in service of a complete pay off. The movie was everything I hoped it would be and I'm left with the great desire to see more of this dark and disturbing world, to spend more time with the characters--particularly Marv. Hopefully we'll see a sequel before long and hopefully many of the original actors will be back along for another ride. Because I want to visit again.