March 18, 2005

Sin City

Luckily, thanks to my membership in Cinema St. Louis, I was given a rare privilege - the ability to attend a press screening of Sin City, the movie based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller. Having never read the books, nor seeing the infamous trailer, I went into it with an open mind, not looking to demolish or praise it, but just to see 1) if it made a great movie, and 2) if it would lead me to read the graphic novels.

My answers (and no spoilers) are 1) kind of, and 2) not really.

Is this a bad movie? No - there are some very clever moments, and seems to be a straight-from-the-page adaptation of the comics. (If I didn't know better, I could swear that I could follow along with the comic). The spot got annoying at times, but felt right and added to the overall noir atmosphere. Some good acting, some great concepts, and not a bad movie to see for free.

However...and I'm sure there are going to be people who will e-mail me and say, "But you have to read the graphic novels to appreciate the movie," but several things about the movie just didn't work.

First, it comes across like a 10-years-too-late ripoff of Pulp Fiction: the non-linear screenplay, the "series of stories" approach. I wonder if Quentin Tarantino got his "special guest director" credit (I'm not making this up) in order to avoid a lawsuits. Throw in some pastiches of Mickey Spillane and Jim Thompson, and it often comes across as shockingly unoriginal.

In addition, there are moments in the movie (no spoilers) that - in the comics - would have come across as shocking and disturbing, but filmed, have a similarly depraved feel about them. I'm no prude, and am not crying censorship by any means - I just think those moments could have been handled in a stronger, more dramatic way. I guess that's why Robert Rodriguez "co-directed" with Miller - some of the CGI shots looked straight out of a videogame, and some of the wire work seemed artificial. In fact, I wondered why some bloody shots were spot colored, whereas others were a milky white.

I also didn't appreciate the rather....well, the attitudes towards women seem rather adolescent and brutal. Yes, it's supposed to be a brutal world, but there were times where I thought the film went too far. (Just my opinion, and I'm sure many of the same fans who decried violence against women in Identity Crisis won't simply accept it in Sin City because "Miller is a genius. " I mean, let's face it, it would be rather hypocritical, wouldn't it? But I digress).

All in all, this isn't a bad movie, and Hollywood has done worse (see here about the problems of translating comics into movies). Sin City isn't a bad film - it may just be for fans of the graphic novel.

However, I leave you with this final thought - Jessica Alba portrays a blonde stripper in this movie.

John Byrne's gonna love this.

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