Sin City


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"This is a movie that people will absolutely love, or absolutely hate.  The Masked Reviewer absolutely loves it."










Sin City
The Masked Reviewer

What do Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Elijah Wood, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Brittany Murphy, and Michael Madsen have in common? 

None of them have played racquetball with the Masked Reviewer.

However, all of them appear in Sin City, the latest film by Robert Rodriguez.  You may remember Robert Rodriguez from such films as Desperado and the Spy Kids movies.  And, you might also remember him from the disappointing Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which also featured a huge all-star ensemble cast.  It was a film that didn't live up to most people's expectations.  Some fans might wonder whether he will repeat his mistakes in this film.

Actually, it wouldn't be fair to say that Sin City is a film by Robert Rodriguez.  The movie is based on the graphic novels of the same name by Frank Miller.  If you're a fan of comic books, you'll know who Frank Miller is.  Comic book fans are probably reading this paragraph right now and sitting in their seats indignantly saying out loud to the screen (sounding very much like Jeff Albertson*) "Pishaw!  Frank Miller?  Please do not insult my intelligence.  Best...graphic novelist...ever."

To say the movie is "based on" Frank Miller's work isn't exactly accurate is Frank Miller's work.  You can thumb through his novels and find that Sin City is a shot-for-shot reproduction of those books.  The movie actually combines a few different "Sin City" stories for the movie, but the look, the lighting, the camera is the graphic novel on the big screen.  Because of that, Frank Miller was given co-director credit.

Also listed as "Special Guest Director" is Quentin Tarantino.  It won't be immediately apparent which segment is Quentin Tarantino's, because his style and Robert Rodriguez's (and Frank Miller's) are all very similar...which is to say, sick and twisted.

Don't get the Masked Reviewer wrong -- sick and twisted is good!  Great, in fact, if you like that kind of thing.  If you don't like violent imagery, you'll have a hard time with Sin City.  If you found any of Quentin Tarantino's or Robert Rodriguez's movies to be disturbing (except for Spy Kids, of course) then Sin City will almost certainly be too much for you.  It's not just violence -- it's extreme, brutal, vivid, hardcore violence.  Some would say that because the film is so stylized it isn't as "real" (blood is sometimes white against a black background, for example), but there's no doubt about it, this ain't for the kiddies.  Unless the kiddies don't mind hearing about rape, pedophilia, cannibalism, serial killing, revenge, torture, and circus clowns.  Oh wait, there weren't any circus clowns, so scratch that.  If there were, though, they'd be blowing off people's heads with shotguns and throwing entrails at each other, until some vigilante came along and emasculated the clowns with a rusty hedge clipper, then stuffed their bodies into a tiny clown car.  Then lit the car on fire and pushed it into a shack full of explosives. 

That would've been cool.

None of that stuff with the clowns happened, but it gives you a good sense of what you might be in for.  But it's not all about the violence.  The movie is stylish, shot in the noir style.  There are moments of color for added emphasis, and it's used in interesting ways at interesting times.  The strict adherence to the graphic novel does make for some kind of distracting stylistic elements on screen once in a while; what works beautifully on the page sometimes looks weird when watching it live.  The white blood, for example, or a pair of glasses that have white lenses...those things can take you out of the moment, unless you know the graphic novel and recognize those images, in which case it's pretty cool.

You certainly don't have to know Frank Miller's work to appreciate Sin City.  If you like your entertainment extra-dark, you'll love this one.  Squirmish people might not be able to take it.  If you only know Frank Miller for his work on Batman ("The Dark Knight Returns") you should be aware that Sin City makes Batman's actions in that book seem like the Boy Scouts.  Okay, maybe that's a bad example given the recent troubles with the Boy Scouts...let's say Sunday School.  No...wait a second...the church doesn't have such a clean track record either...let's go with Sin City makes Batman's actions in that book seem like Barney the Dinosaur playing hopscotch.

By the way, don't let "comic book" confuse you.  This ain't Superman.  No tights here.  It's not comical, either, though there are some funny moments (if you like dark humor).

The movie was shot on a green screen (like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), the only difference being that Sin City doesn't suck.  The computer graphics aren't perfect, though, and a few scenes are noticeably computer generated, which can take you out of the moment.  For example, a car chase looks great until the cars fly through the air and land looking a lot more like an Xbox(tm) game than a noir thriller.

The acting was great across the board.  The highlight has to be Mickey Rourke's portrayal of Marv, the psychotic killer with a big heart.  Bruce Willis and Benicio Del Toro (whose name is Spanish for "Benicio Del Bull") are both fabulous as well.  Jessica Alba is surprisingly good and unbelievably hot (two good attributes to have).  Clive Owen is the only main character that seems to be a little less believable in the hard-boiled tough guy department.  He's solid, but he doesn't have the convincing look in his eye of "look at me again and I'll kill you."  He should have spent more time dealing with his local DMV.  Michael Madsen didn't bring much to the table; but he didn't have a major role.  Nick Stahl (Terminator 3) did a fine job, as did Brittany Murphy.  Elijah Wood uses his creepy, cold, lifeless stare perfectly in this movie, too.

The stories in Sin City aren't terribly complex, but the characters are interesting.  However, they do on the surface appear to be motivated by the same things -- power or revenge, primarily.  It is deeper than that, though, and there are nice twists for each character that seeks justice. 

Not only does Sin City have a lot of cool factor, it also features some nudity.  What more could a person want? 

The Masked Reviewer has a note that says "weird sound", but doesn't remember what that refers to.  The reason is because the film was so engrossing, it was hard to take a note.  The film is about two hours long, and it goes by quickly. 

By the way, there is a cameo in the film that you might miss while you're watching it.  There's a priest in a confessional -- see if you recognize him.  If not, check out the credits.

If you like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, you're almost certain to love Sin City.  If you like Frank Miller, you are definitely certain to love Sin City.  If you loved "Sin City", you'll absolutely go nuts for Sin City.  If you love Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, or Benicio Del Toro, you'll love them in Sin City.  (Jessica Alba wasn't listed because her fans might find this to be a big departure from Honey.  Elijah Woods fans will enjoy him as well.

If you have ever been disturbed by violent content in a movie, stay away.  If the thought of serial killers or sexual predators makes you too uncomfortable, stay home.  If you don't like stylized movies that don't put realism first, this won't be for you.  If you find nudity offensive, go rent Flipper

This is a movie that people will absolutely love, or absolutely hate.  The Masked Reviewer absolutely loves it.  By the way, Sin City has nothing to do with Las Vegas; it's set in Basin City, but the locals probably call it Sin City, much as the people from San Fransisco like when you call their city Frisco.  They love when you do that.

* Jeff Albertson is the real name of The Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons", as revealed in episode #GABF02, "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass."  Of course, any true comic book fan would already know that. 


Expectation from the Title: A movie that is all about Las Vegas!

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  There are a lot of young men in the movie who try very hard to be helpful.

The Pros: It's a frame-for-frame recreation of a great (but violent) graphic novel; well acted, well paced, dark, gritty, and exciting.  And, there's nudity, too!

The Cons: Some people might not like the style elements, others will be offended by the dark elements.  But, neither of these will be cons to some people.

Sincity, Frank Miller, Bruce Wilis, Benicio Del Toro, Mickey Rork, Jesica Alba, Quentin Terentino, Marv

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