Sin City

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Sin City
Review (10/10)
(By Blair Barbesin)


This movie was much better than I thought it was going to be. I wasn't a big fan of Robert Rodriguez's last few films. (The Spy Kids series was lackluster at best and Once Upon a Time in Mexico was good and bad.) So I had a little hesitation as to whether he could pull this off or not.

He pulled it off. In a big way.

This movie, and I'm serious about this, has the potential to have the biggest impact on cinema since Pulp Fiction. It's actually set up rather similar to Pulp Fiction, with three interweaving story lines filled with rich characters.

Sin City was filmed like a comic book, and I really think that may be the influence of Frank Miller who also served as one of the film's co-directors. That said the use of black and white for this movie really set the gritty noir tone of the film. The use of negative space, which comes directly from the comics, is brilliant and reminds you that you are watching something more than a comic book movie. But the greatest feat of all was the use of color. I think there were only five colors used in this entire movie. Red, yellow, a touch of flesh color, green eyes and blue eyes. I'm still trying to understand the use of color and what it really means. There must be some method to deciphering the color scheme of this movie. If anyone else thinks they know what it could be feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

However the greatest aspect of this movie, beyond the story, was the actors. Not because this was an all-star cast, but because the actors really acted well. One of the best surprises was Mickey Rourke, who played the brutal psycho Marv. Marv was the best character of this movie, and a great choice as a first main story to be told. It really sets the stage for Sin City better than the other two stories do. I don't know where Mickey Rourke has been since I last really saw him in Year of the Dragon. Since then he's more or less made shit. (Although I must admit, for some insane reason, a fondness for Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man.) Rourke was fantastic in this movie, and I really can't think of anyone else that could have pulled Marv off like that. Marv is a brutal psycho killer, but one with a warped sense of morality. It's hard to tell what is good and what isn't in Sin City. Actually it's more like trying to figure out their degree of bad.

Marv, like a bull with a hate on, brutalizes his way through Sin City to find the killer of a girl that gave him the time of day. He reminds me of a combination of The incredible Hulk and James Cagney. His rampage, his determination and ferocity won't be stopped. Yet though all of this, he is portrayed as the "good guy" and we feel for him and we want him to win.

There are main characters in this movie, and secondary characters. The secondary characters may not have as much screen time but they are as every bit as compelling and intriguing as the main ones. Marv's story introduces us to a few of these secondary people, but the most interesting of these is the Elijah Wood character, Kevin. He doesn't say a word in this movie, and he's one of the more interesting and compelling and scary characters in Sin City. I don't want to say too much about him, but this was a great role for Wood. His silence is freaky.

The second story of the movie belongs to Clive Owen's Dwight. He's another bad ass like Marv, but more subtle and not as ugly. (After you see Marv, you'll understand what I mean.) But he is every bit as dangerous as Marv. Dwight is on a mission to save the girls of Old Town, a part of Sin city where the hookers are in control. Owen's interaction with Benicio del Toro was pretty intense and oddly compelling. Like Marv, Dwight's story brings us to other characters in Sin City. One was Rosario Dawson's Gail, more of an Amazon warrior than hooker. However, the one person that I didn't think much of was Alexix Bledel (yes the younger Gilmore girl). She was hard to buy as a hooker and just seemed to, well, wholesome to be a hooker. She knows that, and uses it well.

The final story is Bruce Willis as Hartigan. I like this character for Willis. He does more with this character than just smirk his way through his lines. He brings a real conviction to the character that I think will be well received. However, the only problem with this casting and trying to force on us is accepting Willis as a sixty year old. Sorry, but no. He can't pull off sixty any more than he could pull off sixty eight. But if you can look past that, you can see a real affection between Hartigan and Jessica Alba's Nancy. I don't think I would buy this relationship if it wasn't for the art imitating life aspect of this. (You know the rumors of Willis and Lohan.) But it is explained in a way that is kinda believable without being well, gross. By the way, Alba is smoking hot and not nearly on screen enough.

Hartigan is on the trail of Junior/Yellow Bastard. I'm sure this will sound like I'm gushing, but Nick Stahl does a great job with this character. I'm not surprised by this. I think he is great in the HBO series Carnivale. Hartigan's pursuit of him offers some great scenes, some really violent scenes and some surprising ones as well, but they are all pretty damn cool.

What makes Sin City so great is the relationships between characters. Here no one is insignificant. Every character is important in their own way and they all deliver the goods. Even Powers Boothe in, thankfully, a small role. Sin city is a dirty place. It's corrupt, it's dangerous and no one can be trusted. This movie works on so many levels the story, the direction and one thing that I have to mention is the music. The music of Sin City is so hypnotic and so perfect you don't notice it's there until it wants you to. It sounds so tribal and hard. It's the sound of danger and cynicism - if that can be a sound.

There is so much more to talk about, I could go on and on.

I'm not sure how this movie will play for the masses. Some will love it and others will hate it. I think that this movie will be a major force and influence on movies to come. There is so much in this movie that is so right. Rodriguez, I think, has made his masterpiece.

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