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Sin City (2005)

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8.3
 / 10
61 votes
Genres:
Crime, Crime Thriller, Film Noir
Directors:
Frank Miller Frank Miller
Robert Rodriguez Robert Rodriguez
Quentin Tarantino Quentin Tarantino
Starring:
Jessica Alba Jessica Alba
Devon Aoki Devon Aoki
Alexis Bledel Alexis Bledel
Powers Boothe Powers Boothe
Cara D. Briggs Cara D. Briggs
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Review by Vash
Added: April 03, 2005
Frank Miller's Sin City is a comic book movie in every sense of the word. The series began as a series of short comics, written and drawn by Frank Miller, in a collection of Dark Horse comics called Dark Horse Presents in the early 90s. There have been a handful of graphic novels that portray the various characters in the decadent land of Sin City. The movie follows That Yellow Bastard, The Big Fat Kill, and the original Sin City storyline in a sort of intertwined, Pulp Fiction-esque fashion. The three storylines follow three downtrodden, tough-as-nails hero figures who go about doing the right thing in a city filled with crooks and sheisters.

The movie opens up with a piece written for the movie, featuring Josh Hartnett as a lady-killing assassin, then goes straight into That Yellow Bastard which features Bruce Willis (Hartigan) and Jessica Alba (Nancy). Right from the opening scene, fans of the comics will feel right at home as they see their favorite characters looking and talking exactly like they do in the comics. In fact, every tiny little detail in the comics have been translated flawlessly to the screen, and that's really what's so great about the movie -- it is the perfect conversion of source material to movie that I've ever witnessed. This is probably due to the fact that Miller himself co-directed the film, but the level of faithfulness to the source material is astounding. The bad-ass quotes from the comic are here, as well as the brutal violence and provocative sexuality.

The big sigh of relief that Sin City fans can finally breathe is that the overall feel of the comics is perfectly intact in the movie. The comics were very dark, gritty and rough, and it was written with a sort of film-noir atmosphere about it and that is translated very well. Rodriguez and Miller have succeeded in (re)creating a very dark and seedy world with brilliant use of lighting in black and white, as well as the use of color for certain things like eyes, clothes, cars, and, of course, blood. I hate to keep going back to it, but as you're watching the movie, it feels just like you're reading the comic. There's heavy use of greenscreen for the backgrounds, which makes the scenery come to life in a fittingly over-the-top fashion.

The real factors in the equation that makes everything come to life are the actors and their phenomenal performances. I'm having a hard time deciding whether I preferred Bruce Willis as the hard-ass good cop Hartigan, Benecio Del Toro as the womanizing drunk Jackie Boy, Clive Owen as all-around bad-ass Dwight, or Rosario Dawson as the bondage-loving valkyrie Gail. All the performances were solid and characteristically over-dramatic, but I'd have to go with Mickey Rourke's portrayal of original Sin City hero Marv, the most surprising and true-to-the-character performance in the movie, by far. He nails Marv's violent, quick-to-anger character to a tee, but he also manages to make you love him even more because his heart is always in the right place. There's amazing acting all around and it's almost surprising how life-like and faithful the performances are (Elijah Wood will creep you out with his fantastic portrayal of cannibalistic killer Kevin) and the superb acting, mixed with the wonderfully stylistic yet cleverly subtle shots and scenery, is a recipe for an entirely engrossing, rich, immersive experience that viewers will want to experience over and over again.

As I said, the performances and shots are suitably emphatic and over-the-top, and all that together really gives off that comic book feel that other movies try so hard to achieve. The actors deliver their lines with such over-emphasized vigor that it almost comes off as humorous, but that's the whole point. The enthusiastic lines are delivered in the same style as old 40s detective dramas and the like (think Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca), and it's that very style that's represented through the use of black and white and lots of greenscreen. The opening scene of That Yellow Bastard with Hartigan driving, delivering his monologue as the wind blows in his face, that's typical detective-style film noir imagery, and Rodriguez and Miller pull it off perfectly, doing it up but not over-doing it. Throw in a few Kill Bill-esque animated cutaways and a seamless mix of CGI and real sets and you've got a highly-stylized look to the movie which comes off just as glossy as it does gritty, just like Basin City itself.

An underappreciated yet equally effective part of creating the Sin City atmosphere is the movie's musical score, done also by Robert Rodriguez. Unlike Quentin Tarantino's approach of using selected tracks by various artists to really emphasize a scene (brilliantly placed as they may be), Rodriguez's score mixed old-time jazz mixed with electronic flourishes to infuse each scene with its own life, and even when the characters weren't saying anything, the scenes spoke to you through the great score.

Fans of the comics will love this movie, period. As a conversion, it's flawless, and there's no debating that, but as a movie itself, it's a bit of a different story. It's really not for everyone, and I'll say that right now. The movie goes on a bit long, clocking in at over two hours, and towards the end, even I felt a bit tired, but the movie doesn't over stay its welcome... it's just that there's so much packed into it. It seems long-winded only because of the amount of speech and dialog in it (think Kill Bill 2), but if you like hearing the characters talk, then you'll love it. If you just want action, this isn't for you. Also, Sin City is pretty damn violent, and it's really not for the faint of heart. It's very graphic and often pretty gory, so if you're not a big fan of the Kill Bill movies and you're not big on buckets of blood, stay away from this movie.

This review is a bit biased considering I'm a huge fan of the comics, as well as film noir shit in general, so in my eyes, this movie is flawless. It's like the movie was made for me, and even if I didn't read the comics, I think I would love every inch of this flick regardless. From the opening shot of the Sin City skyline to the last animated shot of snow falling on the Roark farm, my lips were parted in a huge grin that said, "this is what all movies should be like." Everything about the movie played to my tastes; the film noir atmosphere, the cleverly-written dialog, the animated cutaways, the intense graphic violence (done sensibly, of course), great musical score... Hell, they even threw in Rutger Hauer, and if that name doesn't sound familiar, you probably haven't seen Bladerunner.

It's hard for me to think of flaws the movie had because I loved it so much. It had its slips here and there, and it may have carried on a bit long, but I didn't care at all because the movie was tailored to fit my tastes. This movie quite literally had everything I love about movies. I can't think of how it would be for other people to watch it because, quite frankly, I don't care if other people like it or not. This is the kind of movie I would like to make and this is the kind of movie other films should aspire to be. This is the best movie to come out in years, and this is why I wrote this review -- not to motivate you to go watch it, because you probably will anyway. I wrote this to express my love towards Sin City because it's one of the best movies I've ever seen, period. 9/10.
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385 #1: 385 - added 04/04/2005, 11:37 AM
I've never read the comics. Hell, I couldnt even tell you anything about them. I heard the name but that was it. I fucking LOVE this movie. I'm curious though, the only thing that i found weird was them splitting up "TYB" but it was executed beatifully.
heylook #2: heylook - added 04/05/2005, 10:21 PM
I loved the whole transition between the three seemingly main characters. I have read some of the comic books but this by far explored the world of "Sin City" in a deep way that only people comparing the reading to the movie could understand, but it was by far the best movie from the comic book genre. I would recommend this to anyone for a good watch.
Vash #3: Vash - added 04/06/2005, 02:15 AM
i thought it was cool how they split up TYB because thats my favourite storyline, so they started and ended the movie with it. but yeah, the movie should be enjoyable for anyone regardless of whether they read the comics or not.
Big D #4: Big D - added 04/06/2005, 10:34 PM
Like Marvel and DC, Dark Horse rocks. Cool comic book series it is.
Bluesummers #5: Bluesummers - added 04/12/2005, 03:56 AM
Rodriguez, you bastard, you did it again! Style-wise, story-wise, hell, even acting-wise, this flick nails it. He quit the DGA and shit for it. In my opinion, totally worth it. Yes, I had read some of the comic books before hand, and damn does it all work out so well. Nothing is wrong with the film, literally, everything is perfect (okay, some of the music wasn't so good, but whatever, for once I'll ignore that). Props to go Mr. Rourke. Marv was the man. It makes me proud some actors can still pull it off. And the hookers were nice eye candy. Then again we have the gore and guts. I think this is the first non-Italian movie I've seen where someone's...eh, I won't mention it, but DAMN! People need to see this. For once it proves that a guy with a pretty decent budget can make a REAL movie that wasn't churned out of a Plot-O-Matic 3000 machine. Best movie all year!
Ross #6: Ross - added 05/04/2005, 05:07 AM
Damn fine review, Vash. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie.
dadarulz #7: dadarulz - added 05/22/2005, 04:29 AM
This is so identicial to the comic strip (except maybe 2 or 3 minor things) and yet so refreshing.. Seeing on the big screen what I've read and enjoyed so much pleases me even more. The colors (don't be fooled, there are colors), the music, the pleasant over-acting and the GORE... my my... can't wait for the DVD to come out...
Deadwired2 #8: Deadwired2 - added 07/03/2005, 06:21 AM
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Excellent cast of bone-able women, too.
. #9: . - added 09/13/2005, 09:10 PM
Hated the soundtrack, loved the movie.
BuryMeAlive #10: BuryMeAlive - added 12/01/2005, 06:42 PM
Really good movie, something new... Still it is abit to long, it becomes boring towards the end.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #11: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 04/19/2007, 08:56 AM
This movie is so fucking awesome. It's a damn sexy piece of work with such slick style. I was into it the whole time and never thought it lost pace anywhere.
9.9/10
danimigra #12: danimigra - added 03/25/2008, 10:51 AM
AWESOME..!
Chad #13: Chad - added 02/28/2009, 12:58 PM
Comment #1: "I've never read the comics. Hell, I couldnt even tell you anything about them. I heard the name but that was it. I fucking LOVE this movie."

Typo and all, I copied that for a reason. 10/10.
nogaboga #14: nogaboga - added 10/23/2009, 08:19 AM
Awesome technically, however, the fact that some shots are almost exact copies of comic book frames bothers me a little. Script follows comic script almost to the letter. I would not call it an adaptation, it is more like copying or transferring one medium (comics) into another (film). Great as demonstration of technique, but does not really separate work of art. A must-see for the people that have not read the graphic novels, might be interesting but may also be seen as a waste of time for those who have read it before.
AttnDefDis #15: AttnDefDis - added 01/03/2011, 07:45 PM
I thought it was great to see the graphic novels so perfectly adapted. The cinematography was spectacular and so was the casting. True, you can't really call it an adaptation, but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
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