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
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.
To say the movie is "based on" Frank Miller's work isn't exactly
accurate either...it 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 angles...it 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
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
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