Saturday, April 09, 2005

Frank Miller's Sin City

The movie, not the comic books.

What's the difference? One has live action and is projected on a big screen, the other is printed on pulp. But that's about it.

You think you've seen comic books come to life on the big screen before? You think Batman, Spider-Man, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Ghost World or The Road to Perdition translated the graphic novel to the big screen? They didn't do squat.

I can only draw comparisons to the little I've seen of Frank Miller's Sin City series of comics, but I feel very confident that this movie has truly captured Miller's images--as well as a live action movie can. ...and yes, I did toss a subtle pun at you there. Miller is in the movie, too.

I went in not knowing what to expect--or even if I'd really like it. All I knew was that Bruce Willis is cool and the film promised to be visually intriguing. I had looked into Miller's art a bit and didn't care for it at all. Still don't. I looked up Sin City to see what it was all about and found that there are several stories in the series. So I had an idea of the look we would be dealing with and the potential for multiple story lines. I went in skeptical. I came out very impressed.

Film noir has returned. Not the self-conscious indi films or the pseudo-stylized detective flicks, true film noir. I've since discovered that even that style was carried over from the comics and the narration nearly verbatim. I feel like I should discuss this aspect more, but really there's no better way to say it: this is film noir. Period.

Maybe this will help:
Film noir: -'nwär: noun
Etymology: French, literally, black film
: a type of crime film featuring cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background music; also : a film of this type

And it is dark. Both visually and thematically. Don't confuse comic books with kids books. The best ones aren't. The Sin City stories are full of violence and deviant behavior. While not gory, they are graphic and there's a reason this film is rated R.

The movie has an all-star cast who I won't mention here. You can go to the Web site and see 'em all. Although I noticed Elijah Wood isn't listed on the Web site. ...Yeah, you want to see Frodo involved in some twisted sexual abductions and end up dismembered and disemboweled? This movie's got it!
But there is a true ensemble cast at work here. There are four or five different stories, each overlapping a little bit. Each story is told beginning to end, then it's on to the next one. Each time a story was resolved, though, I found myself thinking, "That's not how the whole movie will end, is it?" That was because of two things, I realized: first, the movie was packing so much in that I was losing track of time and thought the movie must almost be over; and second, I was looking for something to tie it all together. It delivered. The Yellow Bastard story endcaps the movie, starting off at the beginning and being resolved at the end, tying in all other story lines and giving the movie a satisfying end.

Sin City:
Graphic and disturbing behavior: three out of five severed limbs spilling white blood.
All-around quality and entertainment value: four out of five heroes that should have been dead 30 bullets ago.


Post a Comment

<< Home