Sin City

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      I haven't read a lot of comic books, er, graphic novels since I was a kid. But I did read Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, which I liked. Miller did comics for both DC and Marvel including Daredevil and Electra that have been recently made into movies. He also was the screenwriter for RoboCop 2 and 3. I've never read any of his Sin City Comics. Now Miller has collaborated with Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Spy Kids) to direct a movie version of Sin City. Rodriguez had to resign from the Director's Guild so that Miller could be credited as a co-director. Sin City is a comic-book noir which tells several interwoven stories involving many seedy characters including hard bitten cops (Bruce Willis, Michael Madsen, Benicio Del Toro), prostitutes (Rosario Dawson), tough good guys (Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Carla Gugino), tough bad guys (Josh Hartnett, Michael Clarke Duncan, Powers Boothe), waitresses (Brittany Murphy), exotic dancers (Jessica Alba), and crazed sociopathic killers (Nick Stahl, Elijah Wood). The stories are adapted from "The Big Fat Kill" and "That Yellow Bastard", two of Miller's graphic novels. Each of the characters is in his or her own death spiral and interact only to speed each other to the grave. It's kind of pointless to go into the plot of Sin City. It'll spoil it for people who are interested and it won't make sense to anyone.

      Sin City is shot in an interesting pseudo-comic book style, not like Polar Express, where the real actors have been turned into cartoons, but in live action that looks like a comic book, kind of like Dick Tracy in black and white. There is almost no color in the images. It is always nighttime and usually raining, a bit like Blade Runner. The black and white images do have a few splashes of color here and there such as a woman's lipstick. Some of the actors look just as they always do, like Willis, Owen and Dawson. But others, such as Rourke, Del Toro and Stahl are almost unrecognizable. Their faces have been altered and in the case of Rourke and Stahl, they no long look like real people. The script for Sin City is leaden as you'd expect from lines that used to be in balloons above people's heads in a comic book, and the effect is heightened by the fact that all the actors, male and female seem to be speaking one register lower than their normal range. It makes the whole movie seem slow and oppressive which I'm sure was the idea that Rodriguez and Miller had in mind. Bruce Willis is very good in his role but he has one of the few characters that is slightly more than one dimensional. The rest are like, well, comic book characters. We do get to see Carla Gugino as we never saw her in Spy Kids.

      These stories are real sicko stuff and not for the squeamish. I'm not squeamish and it wasn't for me. Sin City is a very graphic novel! It has graphic cartoon violence on a scale I've only seen in Starship Troopers and Kill Bill Vol. 1, except that it's meaner and sicker, and it likes violence against women just a little bit too much. Frank Miller is one sick puppy. I really didn't like this movie. It was interesting for the first few minutes from a style standpoint but then it just made me sick.