Nobody wants to live in Old Town – Basin City’s crime capital. In Basin City, it’s always nighttime and you’ll either find a hitman ready to hire, a prostitute to rent, or a shady strip joint in every back alley. Based on the graphic novels (the first, third, and fourth books, to be exact) by Frank Miller, Sin City takes a closer look at the crime-infested city and its five anti-heroes.
This is probably the only comic movie adaptation that follows its source material page by page AND is a complete mock-up of every panel, easily making it one of the most stylistic and visually appealing movies out there.
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The Movie Review
Don’t expect anyone in this story to be good people, in Sin City there are no honest cops, vigilantes, or superheroes in Old Town. There is, however, a few residents who are tired of the way things run in the city and are out to punish criminals. There’s ugly son-of-a-bitch Marv, Old Town’s Hulk who seeks to avenge the death of a prostitute he fell in love with during a one-night stand, Goldie.
There’s also John Hartigan, a cop who’s sworn to protect Nancy Callahan from a rapist named Roarke Junior. Nancy grows up to be a stripper to realize her dreams of becoming a lawyer, but trouble isn’t over for her as the Roarke family is incredibly powerful. Then there’s also Dwight, a retired detective now-vigilante who seeks to shift the balance of power in town.
Director Robert Rodriguez has always been hit-or-miss, he’s done a great job in the action film Desperado, but the worst in its sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
Though Rodriguez and co-director Frank Miller have made the brave decision to fit all three books into one movie, and they practically used the novels as the film’s storyboard/screenplay, essentially creating a work of art. Can’t say that merging all the clearly different plots altogether wasn’t awkward, but they’re equally entertaining nonetheless.
What I like about the film is the stylistic decisions, the neo-noir aesthetic has taken it to another level. It’s a crime film after all, and a sexy one. All of the shots look like they were taken straight out of the comic, it’s mostly black and white, with some characters and objects tinted in vibrant red, yellow or purple. I also appreciate how despite the blood being mostly white, the violence in the movie is hard to watch.
There’s a scene where Marv dismembers a certain character and keeps him alive, then lets him slowly get eaten by wolves. Meh, what’s so disturbing about that? Well, it’s that the character isn’t screaming in agony. Instead, he stares into the camera emotionless, like a goddamn psychopath.
I won’t spoil who that person is, but it just proves how amazing the cast is. Wanting to stay faithful to the comics is tough for the actors not sounding one-dimensional, but even Jessica Alba was good in this!
The film is unapologetically black and white when it comes to morals too, there’s straight up rape, suicide, pedophilia and misogyny shown. It’s dark and edgy for the sake of it. However, all the style and source material loyalty doesn’t save Sin City from its flaws. Many things taken from the comics doesn’t translate well to film, especially the dialogue.
It’s an entertaining movie sure, but it’s not as engaging as I hope it would be. All of the stories don’t leave room for suspense, almost as if it was taken straight out of a 12-year old boy’s imagination.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Sin City has become one of my guilty pleasures. Great cinematography, with a cast to die for, but an okay story that needs more work on. It’s not for the light-hearted, and you’ve got to have a twisted sense of humor to enjoy this. If you like Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction, you should try watching Sin City.