Sin City

2005 comic book movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Three-and-a-half dark stories of the criminally insane, rogue superheroes, hired killers, nefarious politicians, and tough whores from the titular town, Basin City.

I'm not sure it's possible to make a movie more faithful to the source material than this. It's fitting that Frank Miller received directing credit. I don't think you can argue that this isn't an impressive artistic achievement. Whether or not you like it, however, depends on your tolerance for hyper-stylized, hyper-violent, hyper-sexualized comic book stuff. None of this is believable. Characters are beaten, riddled with bullets, and thrown around, only to survive like they're made of the same material as Wile E. Coyote or Tom from the Tom and Jerry cartoons. And they speak all these neo-neo-noir inflated lines of dialogue or narration, boys and girls both delivering them in these husky voices, and it's the sort of writing that Raymond Chandler would be too embarrassed to include in his fiction. Stock characters are exaggerated to the point where they become parody. The heroes--Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen--are invincible and tougher than whatever nails are tougher than. Rourke fits the ultra-stylized story and visuals the best. His voice is perfect for the role and both his body and especially head have this comic-book character shape to them anyway. Owen's just cool enough and vulnerable enough for his story, and what Bruce Willis does here isn't really far removed from what he normally does. The gals sure look good--Alba swinging her rope and gyrating in a way that would likely make Roger Rabbit turn his eyes away from Jessica, at least briefly, Devon Aoki as Miho, slinging swastika stars and swinging samurai swords; Jamie King as Rourke's muse(s) Goldie/Wendy shimmering in this filthy gray world and possessing what might be the best nipples I've ever seen in a movie. And I've definitely seen my share of nipples. Speaking of whores, I sure do love that old-town whore gang, the kinds of characters who just add so much color to a black-and-white world. Not that there's any depth, of course. You can't go into Sin City expecting good storytelling, characterization, or any realism. You're especially not going to get anything resembling character development with the collective of villains here. They either don't say much (or anything) or get much screen time, and their motivations don't make a lot of sense. And really, in a setting where all the good and beautiful has seemingly been sucked out, the line between good and evil is pretty thin anyway. Although when you're obscenely jaundiced or mounting women's heads on walls, I guess it's pretty obvious that you're going to be thrown into the villain category. The real stars are the style and the visuals. There's such clarity to the imagery, and you can see hair on women's backs and pieces of human beings so clearly. Mostly, this is black and white, but honestly, it's mostly black with varying shades of gray. There are stand-out reds and greens and eyes and the one guy with yellow skin, and I'm a sucker for that kind of shit. It's a beautiful kind of ugliness to these images. Less believable or realistic than your typical superhero movie, a lot of this--talking severed heads, guys saying "Heyyyy" after getting arrows shot through them, guys knocked out by single punches but walking off four gunshots to the torso--will be hard for a lot of people to love. There are suggestions of mental illness, surreal imagery, all that ultra-violence. It's definitely a case of style over substance. Actually, it's style over everything, the style completely drowning everything else. If you're in the right mood, this connects, like Looney Tunes cartoons for grown men, and I look forward to the upcoming sequel.

Had no idea Nick Offerman was in this movie, by the way.

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