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2013 Comic Book
Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Three stories unfold in a cartoonish black and white crime world. The first follows a dim thug named Marv (Mickey Rourke) as he tracks down his lover’s killer. The second follows a tough guy (Clive Owen) who becomes embroiled in a war between a gang of hookers and some crooked cops. And the third follows a detective (Bruce Willis) who vows to rescue a stripper from the clutches of a vile serial killer. Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller.
I love film noir. I love comic book movies. So, it's safe to say that I love SIN CITY, which is what one could call "Amplified Noir." It has everything you would typically find in a film noir piece, only amplified to the tenth degree.
There are the flawed but noble anti-heroes who question their identities and strive to protect their women; a generous use of poetic narration; plots that involve murder mysteries and corruption; beautiful but tough femme fatales; stark black and white cinematography; and bloody spouts of violence. It is all here, but gloriously exaggerated to a gleeful degree.
SIN CITY also happens to be the most faithful adaptation of a comic book ever made, which makes sense, seeing as nearly every illustration from three CITY stories was reenacted panel by panel. This movie was literally lifted directly from the page and thrown onto the screen. My personal favorite story was Marv's (mostly because of Mickey Rourke's great performance), but Clive Owen's chapter contains one of the most inventive action sequences I’ve ever seen (the Tar Pit gun fight). The best thing about all three stories, however, is that each is basically a distillation of the most common film noir plotlines. It really is an ingenious creation.
Now, while SIN CITY may be the most FAITHFUL comic adaptation, it is certainly not the BEST. Frankly, this is because there is no real story to speak of, nor is there any true depth to the proceedings. SIN CITY is basically just a string of sketches and stylized action scenes held together by the flimsiest of connections. Is that a bad thing? In this case, no it isn't, because the movie is flawlessly crafted and exceedingly entertaining. The film seems to be aiming only at being “cool,” and to wow you with its visuals. It certainly succeeds on both fronts.
And if you really think about it, SIN CITY is not ENTIRELY immoral; the notion of protecting women and punishing those who hurt them is a noble one, but it’s a one-note theme that really doesn’t get fully explored here. And that's basically all there is in terms of themes or "deeper meaning." But honestly, that’s OK. Sometimes I am completely satisfied by simply seeing cool stuff unfold onscreen, deep story or not...especially if it is WELL-MADE cool stuff. And “well-made” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
SIN CITY is one of the most visually arresting movies ever made. This groundbreaking film combines live action and CG backgrounds to create a breathtaking world unlike any ever shown on screen. Its images truly swept me away, making me feel like I was taken into a whole other world, a sort of black and white Hell where these violent people and their violent actions are barely held at bay. It also has a great ensemble cast that perfectly channels the tough talk of yesteryear. Moreover, Frank Miller's original dark vision was preserved intact, and you have to give the movie credit for that. When writing SIN CITY, Miller set out to create a film noir fever dream, and the movie recreates that aesthetic perfectly. It also helps that the man behind the curtain is the unflinchingly imaginative Robert Rodriguez (DESPERADO, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, PLANET TERROR), the "one man band" of filmmakers. This guy does it all, from writing to shooting to editing to scoring. I find myself enthralled by pretty much everything he does. Despite the fact that Rodriguez does literally EVERYTHING on all of his movies (which would burn out almost anyone), he still manages to make competent and highly entertaining films. I find his versatility extremely admirable, and his talent is on full display in this film.
Overall, SIN CITY is a masterpiece of style that really blew me away. There’s no denying it, this film is innovative and will be dissected in film classes for years to come. It makes you feel adrenalized, and it puts you in complete awe of the craft it employs to tell its story. So in actuality, it does make you feel something. Maybe SIN CITY is deeper than it originally seemed to be...in this case, the style IS the substance.