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Sin City - a real pageturner

By transient0 in Culture
Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:44:52 AM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

A confession: I like comic books. I like movies. I like tits. And I like to laugh.

If you can relate to me on even three of these four wavelengths, then I would say that, like me, you are going to fucking love Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City.

This is the movie that comic book fans of the generation that calls them "graphic novels" can finally go see and not feel like Hollywood has tragically misunderstood them. The big studios have taken our Spider-men, our Punishers and our Hulks, but always have they turned up their powdered little noses at our Sandmen, our Watchmen and our Mausen. Well, no more.

The ever denominatively truncated Basin City is a dark metropolis where the cops and clergy are marginally worse than the crooks and junkies. It is a town where the mob knows better than to cross  the whores and Elijah Wood has the power to creep you right the fuck out.

From the opening scene with Josh Hartnett (who didn't even make the movie poster and is credited simply as "The Man") it becomes apparent that this isn't your grampa's comic book movie. This is the world of comic books that doesn't pretend that the world's problems can be squeezed into spandex costumes and beaten up by the good guys. No, Sin City makes all the the visceral and terrible truths of the world bigger and uglier than they could ever possibly be and, in so doing, terrifies you with its restraint. The good guys and bad guys both shoot to kill, and neither of them can be counted on to miss. In fact, often times the only thing separating one from the other is which way the camera is pointing.

This movie thrusts the viewer into a world where nothing could possibly be more noble than a schizophrenic ex-con slaughtering priests and policemen in a desperate attempt to avenge a single dead hooker. It is a visual world where even the most gratuitous and unnecessary tits and ass shot flows so effortlessly into the narrative that you have to admit that maybe it wasn't gratuitous after all. It is a film noir inspired by a comic book inspired by film noir and it is so eminently obvious that the genre has grown only stronger for the detour.

The story is told through the intertwining storylines of Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Dwight (Clive Owen), respectively the city's only honest cop, the city's biggest ugliest thug and a mixed-up tough guy with a mysterious past. In fact, one criticism of the movie could be that every sympathetic character is an incomparable bad-ass who has been the villain of other tales and who the city has endlessly tried and failed to kill. Yet, with its artful variations on the theme, the people of Sin City come out so distinct that you hardly miss the unwashed masses of unused character concepts at all.

And, after all the witty dialogue has been delivered, all the thrilling action sequences have sequenced themselves away and the last perfect breast has retreated into venetian blind cast shadows, the thing that sticks with you from Sin City is its uncompromised style. With it's faux-monochrome filming, not-quite-real backdrops and computer effects that are used consistently enough to not be gimmicks but skillfully enough to not be cheesy, it can not be argued that you are seeing something truly unique. And in case you aren't sure just what it is, let me tell you: You are seeing a comic book movie done right.

As I sat entranced, my brain kept trying to tell me that it was being reminded of something. It wasn't until I was safely decompressing in the cool spring air that I realized what it was. Sin City made me recollect that other movie of comic crime, Dick Tracy. But everywhere that Dick Tracy had hit a grazing visual blow, Sin City was a direct and brutal kill. With every set, every line of dialogue and even to the very camera angles, Sin City the movie draws directly from Sin City the graphic novel and yet somehow becomes something more than just a repetition in another medium. It may just be that comic books needed to wait for modern computer animation before they could be truly captured on the silver screen. If that's the case, well then, thank god for Moore's Law, for the age of visually stunning fantasy is here.

The violence may be too much for the queasy, the self-aware humour may be too much for the diagetic purists and the visual style may be too much for those with more cynicism than taste, but in the end Sin City must be appreciated for the simple fact that it is something new. And let's just hope that it is only a taste of things to come.


1.87 billion out of 2 billion stars


transient0 is more publicly known as frank duff. he has no affiliation with sony, he just likes the damn film, okay?


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Sin City - a real pageturner | 99 comments (83 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
it's kinda like a movie made by a 9 year old boy (2.50 / 8) (#10)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 10:37:32 PM EST

it's 3 wishfulfillment fantasies on the same level of complexity as that from the mind of a 9 year old virgin

you know, the fantasy tough guy rescues the fantasy sterotype girl... the only scenario a 9 year old can understand involving the opposite sex

it's no more complex than your average gta videogame, but who said movies had to be complex

it's infantile puerile mysogynistic fun, but it's still fun, the 9 year old boy in me enjoyed it

so just turn off your brain and enjoy the pretty pixels, no thought, all eye candy

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

It's pulp (2.60 / 5) (#16)
by Coryoth on Sat Apr 02, 2005 at 02:56:08 AM EST

It's supposed to be pulp and overdone, that's kind of the point.  It's like complaining about the dialogue in Pulp Fiction or Resevoir Dogs.  Or, if you're of a different cinema going bent, it's like complaining about the lack of plot and character development in a Peter Greenaway film.

Mostly I think you complaints just mean you missed the point.  That doesn't mean, of course, that you should like the film.  Hyperstylized pulp doesn't appeal to everyone, and apparently certainly doesn't appeal to you.  Your complaints are rather pointless whining though.


[ Parent ]

i siad i enjoyed it, so what is your problem? (nt) (none / 0) (#18)
by circletimessquare on Sat Apr 02, 2005 at 02:30:30 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
I think... (none / 1) (#89)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:25:08 PM EST

I think the incredible level of snark you heaped on may have confused him.

Tits ands violence all 'round!

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#34)
by Daniel Baumgarten on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:45:12 PM EST

You are wrong.

Did you sleep through most of the movie by chance?
Daniel Baumgarten
Editor, One Trick Pony humor magazine
[ Parent ]

it's wish fulfillment of a 60 yr old boy (3.00 / 3) (#39)
by massivefubar on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 09:55:12 PM EST

Actually my impression was just the opposite. There wasn't anything to encourage the younger boy's fantasies. It was all pandering to the "pushing 60" older man crowd and reassuring him that he can still get the young girls. The moral of the story was, Hey mutants and old guys who now feel/look like mutants because of the changes time has wrought...the girls will still love you if you're a hard man.

In other words, it's an old dude's fantasy. Meanwhile, the girls in real life are looking for someone who will come home from a hard day at the office, turn over his paycheck, and help change the diapers. In other words, they're looking for young dudes.

[ Parent ]

Ha. (2.50 / 4) (#12)
by Kasreyn on Fri Apr 01, 2005 at 11:38:30 PM EST

The big studios have taken our Spider-men, our Punishers and our Hulks, but always have they turned up their powdered little noses at our Sandmen, our Watchmen and our Mausen. Well, no more.

You should be fucking grateful. Look what they DID to Spider-Man and the Hulk. (I leave out the Punisher because that one actually entertained me a bit) Of course, the Superman movie was far and away the best superhero film adaptation, but I think Judge Dredd was pretty faithful too.

I do like the way Rodriguez just shrugged and threw away his DGA membership and all hopes for an Oscar, without batting an eye. If only more directors would realize the Oscars are worthless.

It is a film noir inspired by a comic book inspired by film noir and it is so eminently obvious that the genre has grown only stronger for the detour.

Detour? More like cannibalism. My worry has been that this sort of thing would quickly become too self-referential to be penetrable or enjoyable by outsiders. Kind of like internet culture! ;)

in the end Sin City must be appreciated for the simple fact that it is something new.

Well, you've convinced me. You and my friend Derby, who is a comic wonk and Miller fan and keeps pestering me to go see it. Probably be one of only two movies from 2005 I will eventually see, unless something unexpected crops up.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Judge Dredd (none / 0) (#56)
by tonyenkiducx on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 04:58:08 AM EST

Was bloody awful, and a universe away from the comics. Sylvester Stallone is a none-threatening midget. But your right about the punisher, it was entertaining(Allthough I never read the comics). Im going to watch this film just to support the director, he has the sort of attitude hollywood needs.

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Judge Dreck and Punisher (none / 0) (#75)
by spurious on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:44:08 AM EST

Judge Dredd was truly a mess of a movie; lump it in there with Tank Girl, Daredevil, Hulk (which I kind of liked, though, Ang Lee doing an freudian arthouse film out of a comic book), Punisher, etc.

As for the Punisher, that is a perfect example of how some characters cannot be translated to the screen and taken seriously. Compare the film Punisher to the Frank Miller version, especially in the Daredevil/Elektra/Bullseye run. The Miller Punisher was one seriously flawed and psychotic dude.

[ Parent ]

I got that feeling.. (none / 0) (#76)
by tonyenkiducx on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 08:13:56 AM EST

..a little, that the punisher wasnt much like the comic. I guess its the difference between a fan of the comics and a casual watcher. I know some people who actually liked Aliens Vs Predator!! Obviously they have never read the books/comics.

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Well, just remember, (none / 0) (#80)
by Kasreyn on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 11:25:16 AM EST

It could have been much worse. (this goes for either of them)

Some have objected to Stallone's being so hammy and chewing the scenery in Judge Dredd, which puzzles me. That's what Judge Dredd was like!

As to the Punisher, I still can't get over how much I love the scene where Kevin Nash uses Thomas Jane as a wrecking ball to destroy an apartment to Verdi's "La Donna e Mobile". So funny I watched it three times in a row before continuing the movie. Especially the look on Jane's face after Nash crushes the barrel of his pistol.

While I'm certainly not going to sit here and say these movies *should* have been made, I *am* going to say that if they had been made differently, they would more likely have been worse than better.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
A better Judge Dredd (none / 0) (#91)
by spurious on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 11:56:07 PM EST

than Judge Dredd was Robocop.

[ Parent ]
It was ... interesting (2.71 / 7) (#20)
by localroger on Sat Apr 02, 2005 at 08:49:54 PM EST

I just got back from seeing it.

No doubt, Sin City is visually breathtaking. And I certainly can't complain about the level of violence considering *cough* some of the things I've written.

In fact, the violence was so cartoony and over the top that in a certain sense it wasn't even violent. I was worried about my wife seeing it, since she tends to get very disturbed by anything that suggests amputation, but she wasn't grossed out by Sin City at all. It wasn't real enough for that. (I don't think it entertained her much either, but now that I've seen it myself that doesn't surprise me.)

I think it did fall a little flat, probably because the adaptation from comic book format really was a little too faithful. The spoken narration, which is necessary to provide fill-in detail the comic provides in sidebars, comes out overblown and corny. In a movie movie, you'd reveal that information through more nuanced scenes. But in the comic format you can just infodump it and focus on the visual images that have the most impact. In Sin City the infodump is voicover and the plot moves superfast compared to normal movies, and it seems forced.

I was annoyed that in several scenes the movie differed noticeably from the trailers. I think a lot of people will also be disappointed not to hear those awesome guitar riffs from Cells that were used so effectively in the trailers. The movie itself has hardly any sound track at all, except for a few ba-dumps.

I think making the comics into a movie highlights a lack of depth which is necessary when you are writing a 128-page story in graphic format. My wife pointed out how *suspicious* it was that Hartigan was let out of prison after eight years yet only a few months after the letters stopped. It's the kind of shortcut you don't notice in a comic, but in a movie the background is more strongly implied, and it's jarring. I found Marv's trip to the electric chair unbelievably short too.

Fortunately, these lapses are short like everything else in the movie; it hums along at a pace that doesn't invite you to spend much effort analysing it. Unfortunately, that pace keeps up even on the comic panels you'd dwell on, like the fantastically realized hookers of Olde Towne. Then again, they might also have been depending on that pace to keep you from noticing that Jessica Alba never takes her clothes off, and somehow manages to get whipped through a slip without damaging the slip.

Also, several people are tied up in this movie with the lamest use of rope I have ever seen. There are, um, source materials available demonstrating how to tie someone up with rope in a way that is both visually compelling and believable. Sin City fails it here.

The Marv subplot (with a briliant performance by Mickey Rourke) was my favorite part of the movie, both because the actor really had it and because it seems to have survived the transition to screen best. We can see Marv's fate almost from the first frame where we see him; a creature of casual violence, the worst thing that could happen to him would be to experience a moment of kindness. That moment of kindness dooms him, destroying the order that has made it possible for him to survive in the world of ordinary men. It's a very perfect inversion of an otherwise ordinary tale (0.0476 Grams?), well served by the picture's signature over-the-top delivery.

I found the other stories fun too, but it's not a movie I'll be going out of my way to see again soon.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Er... (none / 0) (#21)
by The Jewish Liberal Media Conspiracy on Sat Apr 02, 2005 at 10:01:10 PM EST

I'm not sure what makes Hartigan's release suspicious. It's not unreasonable to assume that Senator ... whatever his name was... was pulling some strings to hurry that along if he wanted to find the girl. I didn't find Marv's trip to the electric chair short either.

I believe it's called "editing". It's not important to the story, so it was cut... or just not there. Much like a handful of people in the theatre when I saw it, it sounds almost like you and your wife went to a movie expecting to see something different than what was intended.
This account has been anonymized.
[ Parent ]
Suspicious *to Hartigan* (none / 0) (#25)
by localroger on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 08:48:03 AM EST

Sure the Senator is portrayed as being able to pull those sorts of strings. What we found odd is that Hartigan didn't see that.

I didn't really go into the theatre with any expectation of what I'd see; everything said it would be different, and it was. It is possible to edit a movie in such a way as to suggest the passage of time; the Hartigan subplot even does this when the screen goes black and Hartigan voices over, "Eight years passed."

There was a clear implication that Marv was whisked into the electric chair in a matter of months. That hasn't happened anywhere in the USA for a long time. In the comic it doesn't matter; it's just Marv's last spit in the eye of Life. It was also one of the funniest scenes in the movie, in that black way it has of making you laugh. The pacing to get there just didn't feel right.

On another note, the portrayal of Hartigan's solitary cell was a bit different than what you would find in a real prison. Visually dramatic, but practically unworkable. You don't notice that in a comic. It would have made a better movie if it had been changed.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

strings (none / 0) (#31)
by frozencrow on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 03:22:24 PM EST

Sure the Senator is portrayed as being able to pull those sorts of strings. What we found odd is that Hartigan didn't see that.

I think Hartigan was counting on the Senator being able to pull those strings. That's why he finally signed the confession, so he could get out of jail.

[ Parent ]
ok then the logic still escapes me (none / 0) (#38)
by massivefubar on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 09:48:58 PM EST

He confesses to the crime, knowing they will let him out of jail so he will lead them to Nancy.

So...he immediately goes to Nancy's place.

Come on, what part of "it don't make sense" are you not getting? :-)

They just plain screwed up on continuity in that part of the story. The Senator told him he would be convicted and be in prison FOR LIFE. Confessing to child rape/murder should not have been sufficient to gain him parole in any universe and especially not the 1940s when rape of a white female was a hanging/cyanide gas offense...let alone murder.

I'm not saying, don't see the film. I'm saying the film had flaws.

[ Parent ]

it doesn't take place in the 1940's (none / 0) (#49)
by zrail on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:40:39 AM EST

it takes place in present day or very recent past. witness the mercedes that marv steals from the priest.

i'm not disagreeing with your argument, but you might want to read the book dealing with hartigan to really get the whole story. i haven't read that one yet, either, but judging from some of the other things they took out, they might have chopped the explanation due to pacing or something.

[ Parent ]

A time and place (none / 0) (#52)
by nutate on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:21:39 AM EST

The time is as make believe as the place, but it is definitely an alternate future. (a face transplant, marv's super abilities, etc. etc.)

[ Parent ]
Alternate reality, not future (none / 0) (#61)
by extra88 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:44:56 AM EST

Sin City may be a "graphic novel" but it's still a comic book, exaggerated abilities and things not-yet-possible are the norm. Also, Dwight having a "new face" doesn't require a face transplant, it could simply be more mundane plastic surgery. That's something that *does* date back to at least the 1940's (see the film, Arsenic and Old Lace which includes a psychopath who's accompanied by a surgeon who gives him a new face, as needed).

Sin City's aesthetic, heavy influenced by film noir, includes some visual cues (many of the cars) of the noir period of 1940s-50s but clearly has more modern elements (Becky's cel phone, Marv's psych meds, the police riot gear style uniforms, the submachine guns, etc.).

I love intentionally innacurate of time periods. Streets of Fire comes to mind. It's kind of set in post WWII Chicago, but not quite. The unfaithfulness of this rendition of a time and place was emphasized in the ad campaign "A Rock & Roll Fable" and in the movie, opensing with the text "Another Time... Another Place," rather like Star Wars's "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

[ Parent ]

OK I'll give you that point (none / 0) (#79)
by massivefubar on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 10:05:00 AM EST

Let's say it is set in some alternative time and place rather than the classic noir period with a few playful anachronisms. I still don't see any time or place in all of human history or the projected future where the confessed, convicted multiple murderer who raped and killed several child victims and left only one alive would be paroled after only 8 years just because he signed a piece of paper.

Sorry, I still feel cheated of a great scene where Hartigan busts down the prison doors.

People of good will can clearly disagree on this point.

[ Parent ]

absolutely right (none / 0) (#92)
by nutate on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 03:16:07 AM EST

I would almost go so far as to say that it was/is an alternate 90s. As in the technology sort of stopped there. The "new face" could be just that, plastic surgery. The guns all seemed like the chic pop guns of the time (that's an american idea for you). I agree entirely and basically rescind what I wrote about it being definitely in the future.

[ Parent ]
Hartigan's release (none / 0) (#51)
by skeller on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:51:39 AM EST

No, he thinks that they already have Nancy.  He believes he's being let out in exchange for confessing -- the Senator wanted to break him by forcing him to confess.  He thinks he gets out of jail by giving the Senator what he wants.  And he may be right, because I don't think Senator Roark was out to get Nancy, it was his son.  I doubt Roark would send his son to actually do the dirty work of killing Hartigan if the Senator knew what was going on.

There are all sorts of weird little logical problems in the movie, though, such as how Hartigan knows where to go find Nancy immediately after being let out of jail, despite his claim that she left no clues to her whereabouts.  But I hardly think logical problems are at all problematic for the movie, since it asks for such a huge suspension of disbelief anyway.

[ Parent ]

Did we see the same movie? (none / 0) (#54)
by Theoretical User on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 03:39:18 AM EST

Extremely clearly this is what happens in the movie: (I don't know about the comic book)
  • Nancy promises to write as Cordelia.
  • Hartigan is convicted and goes to prison for life.
  • Hartigan receives a letter a week from Cordelia.
  • These letters interfere with the Senator's plan to break Hartigan, so he stops them and fakes up "Cordelia's" abduction.
  • The senator foolishly decides to let his son at this "Cordelia" in order to destroy Hartigan, and that's why he agrees to let him out via the confession fakeout. localroger was wrong that this part was illogical because the senator has complete control. I mean, the DA heard Nancy say that Hartigan was innocent, but put him away anyways, and this part is hard to believe?
  • Hartigan signs a confession in order to get paroled, and gets paroled. As localroger incorrectly tried to allude to, this is the weak part in the story, as Hartigan shouldn't believe that this could happen. I guess we're supposed to think that he wasn't thinking.
  • Hartigan goes straight to rescue Nancy, who is obviously a real person that can be looked up in the Sin City phonebook (or whatever), and therefore leads them to Cordelia.
  • The senator's son takes the rest. Remember, she was "a little old" for his tastes. It was all set up by the senator.
Apparently, the senator never finished the job with Nancy because he didn't realize that she was anybody important to Hartigan.

At least, that's my take, but apparently, people see what they want to see anyways.

Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Um... not quite (none / 0) (#68)
by Altus on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:58:45 PM EST

These letters interfere with the Senator's plan to break Hartigan, so he stops them and fakes up "Cordelia's" abduction.

yea... thats why the senator shows up in the cell when the letters stop showing up and then the finger in the envelope shows up...

hummm... wait... that wasn't the senator.. that was in fact... his son!  A broken shell of a man whos life was totally fucked up by this particular cop... couldn't possibly have a desire to get back at him could he?

the son was after cordelia to hurt hartigan... and to lure him to his own death... thats why he tortured him... telling him what he would do to nancy rather than just killing him.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

sure we saw the same movie (none / 0) (#78)
by massivefubar on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:58:41 AM EST

I'm not disputing the plot line. You outline it just fine in words of one syllable.

What I dispute is that anyone in that era would seriously believe that confessing to rape of an 11 year old and the related murders to cover it up would receive parole rather than the death penalty. You can't set the movies in the noir universe and then suddenly apply post-1970s legalities.

Can you imagine the outcry if it's 1948 and YOUR Senator tells the parole board to release a confessed a child rapist? Keep in mind -- convicted rapists of that time were not-infrequently executed if convicting of raping white adults. Much less minors.

I believe the logic would be stronger if they had found a way, even a crazy comic book way, for Hartigan to break out of solitary and the prison. Then you could say, OK, the son followed him to get to Nancy (and the Senator looked the other way to protect his son), so law enforcement might be discouraged from giving too hard of a chase until he found her.

What is ironic is that my suggestion would increase the level of violence in the film so maybe it's just as well they went the illogical route.

But here I was in my little movie seat, all waiting for poor Bruce Willis to bust out of the impossible prison...and they just unlock the door and let him stroll free?

Boo hiss, I expect more from a comic book!

[ Parent ]

Brannigan's cell (none / 1) (#36)
by tgibbs on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 06:40:02 PM EST

On another note, the portrayal of Hartigan's solitary cell was a bit different than what you would find in a real prison. Visually dramatic, but practically unworkable. You don't notice that in a comic. It would have made a better movie if it had been changed.
Actually, the think I liked best about the move was that it retained the impressionistic style of the comic, rather than going for the "realism" that is all to common in modern movies. This was a great example. I thought the scene worked wonderfully, but I saw it as Brannigan's experience of being in jail, not a literal cell.

[ Parent ]
What I think you're missing is that (none / 0) (#95)
by ckaminski on Sat Apr 09, 2005 at 10:40:09 PM EST

Hartigan got himself out of prison by finally confessing to a parole board so that he could make sure she was safe.  He was so possessed by this little girl turned adult that he was afraid of losing the only good and pure thing that happened to him... as perverted as that sounds.  He was so blinded by fear that he missed the obvious trap, so much so that he even alludes to it by realizing, albeit too late, when he arrives at the club.

[ Parent ]
I don't know if it can be done in a movie (none / 0) (#23)
by demi on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 01:15:36 AM EST

Frank Miller's specialty was to take a strong silent type like Wolverine, Batman, or Daredevil and use copious amounts of internal dialogue to develop character and plot. So your hero of many deeds but precious few words can be contrastingly piquant on the outside but loquacious on the inside. Character narration alone doesn't get there, at least not the seen in Sin City. In the comic you can have third-person narration, captioning, external dialogue, and internal dialogue all running separately but simultaneously, using different fonts and text boxes - something that literature and film cannot do easily. A few directors (Robert Altman comes to mind) are able to mix several layers of dialogue simultaneously but even that doesn't give you as much information as a graphic novel can. It's not just narration and it's not just information dumped into a caption either.

[ Parent ]
Insanely lame rope bondage. (none / 0) (#88)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:15:16 PM EST

I don't know what the crap happened there. It looked fine in the book, and they transplanted everything else from the book directly to the movie. Why the insanely lame rope bondage? Only the directors know, I suppose.

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

almost walked out (1.00 / 2) (#22)
by demi on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 12:24:07 AM EST

because the acting was that bad. Like I was talking about before, something vital to Frank Miller's writing must be very difficult to adapt to screenplays. Number one in my mind is the way they turned the internal dialogue directly into narration: voiceovers given in a noir deadpan that destroyed all of the emotional dimension. But this time Miller himself got co-director credit so it's hard to place the blame on anyone else for screwing it up (no way to "Alan Smithee" his way out of it). The screenplay was just plain bad and made worse by 1) abominable performances from everyone but Mickey Rourke and 2) impatient and scatterbrained editing that chopped up the movie into alternating shots of someone looking down at their victim, clicking back the hammer of a gun, and close-ups of a blood-smeared face getting pummeled by an offscreen fist (or dabbed with a bloody rag). You can tell that Tarantino's name (as "special guest director") was thrown in as a favor because his 2-second Larry Bender cameos are better written than Dwight or Hartigan's entire characters were in Sin City.

The one thing Sin City does well is re-create the visual style of Miller's drawing. In that sense it does well by using full page panel illustrations as story transitions. They went to great lengths to re-create some of Miller's line art in their photography.

I thought it definitely picked up in the last quarter, but still, by any reasonable standards this is a bad movie. Two thumbs way the fuck down. If we ever want to see a quality adaptation of a graphic novel we can't be satisfied with the slapdash job they did with this one.

oh, no, that's not true (none / 1) (#29)
by Roman on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 12:47:36 PM EST

I liked the movie for all the things the author mentioned and for the very good screenplay.  Common, this is a comic book, even though it is a movie it is still supposed to be printed on a flat surface.

What I didn't like was the 4 stories were not linked that well, why the hell didn't Kevin finish Junior's work once Willis freed the girl, Nancy wasn't a kid anymore and she was a striptease dancer, close enough to a hooker?

[ Parent ]

To me... (none / 1) (#32)
by araym on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 04:53:30 PM EST

It looked like that scene happened in the barn while they show Kevin inside the house studiously reading the bible so I think he didn't notice/care what was happening outside.


[ Parent ]
aha (none / 0) (#47)
by Roman on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:26:07 AM EST

even when Willis shot like 2 or 3 people right infront of his windows?

[ Parent ]
mmm hmm (none / 1) (#73)
by frozencrow on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 03:04:11 AM EST

maybe it was one of those new, really engrossing bibles?

[ Parent ]
and a (law?) student [n/t] (none / 0) (#40)
by nutate on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:29:17 PM EST

[ Parent ]
that's no excuse (none / 1) (#42)
by demi on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:57:41 PM EST

And anyway, Sin City isn't really a comic book movie, it's a film adaptation of graphic novels which are set in a vaguely filmic milieu. But even the noir aspect is kinda messed up because they couldn't make up their mind on which noir genre to use as a backdrop: the 30's to 40's cops, crooks, and dames noir of Huston and Wilder, the sexually languid 1957 noir of Welles' Touch of Evil, or the psychotic crust punk with a micro-uzi 1980's Michael Mann revival of noir which hugely influenced Frank Miller. Personally I wish they had stuck with the last, because even if it was silly having a pink Ferrari 348 rallying through the snow with the trenchcoat-hat-tie-and-a-.45-ex-detective-with-a-bum-ticker at the wheel on the way to the finale, at least that universe is Miller's own...

[ Parent ]
i'd say dialogue was THAT bad not the acting (none / 1) (#37)
by massivefubar on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 09:39:21 PM EST

I know exactly what you mean. If one more fool said he/she loved someone he'd really spent less than a total of 24 hours with...I was gonna barf. The sloppy sentimentality was over-the-top. But I don't blame the actors. I blame the screen-writer or, really, you have to blame Miller for this one. Too much talk of "love" in situations where burnt-out, badly hurt people wouldn't have used that word for years, if ever. And I really, really don't ever need to see Brittany Murphy in a movie ever again. I'm sorry, I wish her well, she's a pretty girl, but she just doesn't work for me.

[ Parent ]
guess what (1.50 / 2) (#41)
by demi on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:45:19 PM EST

it was the part where Brittany Murphy is leaning out the window calling out to Dwight that I squirmed in my seat and said aloud to my friends that I couldn't take any more and that I was leaving. But like a true k5er my threats to leave the theater were completely disingenuous. From the beginning scenes I was shocked by the dialogue between Bruce Willis and Michael Madsen, delivered so hurriedly and flatly that I wondered if it was some kind of post-Brechtian satire.

But you are right. I guess I shouldn't fault good actors when they are forced to read aloud such dreck, and as an ardent, longtime fan of Miller's work I felt that he let all of us down. Why the hell would he let all of his character monologues be reduced to piped-in, monotone voiceovers? So much artistic latitude was used to make the visual art come to life while so little attention was paid to writing and editing! But that's Hollywood I guess. Judging by the responses on IMDB my opinions are certainly in the small minority, which bodes ill for a disciplined treatment of Watchmen.

[ Parent ]

Because of the quality of actors.... (none / 0) (#96)
by ckaminski on Sat Apr 09, 2005 at 10:49:02 PM EST

I have to only assume that this absurdity was intentional.  To introduce some over-the-top quality I can't quite name...

I think it failed, about as much as it succeeded...

[ Parent ]

P.S. (none / 1) (#26)
by Kasreyn on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 11:58:08 AM EST

On reflection, it doesn't seem hard to figure out why Hollywood would turn up its nose at Whe Watchmen. It probably has more to do with a deeply cynical story which has no happy ending or trite moral statement, than it does with mere obscurity and lack of mainstream appeal.

I bet they imagine American moviegoers being exposed to Dr. Manhattan's final decision, and it makes them piss their pants and break out in cold sweats.

Also, I don't think even Hollywood could make Rorscach lovable.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
if I could spell, it'd be 'The' Watchmen -nt (none / 0) (#27)
by Kasreyn on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 11:59:02 AM EST

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
ACTUALLY...... (none / 0) (#30)
by transient0 on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 02:58:38 PM EST

The Watchmen is in pre-production
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]
AND (none / 0) (#35)
by Insoc on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:59:02 PM EST

it has an official site: www.watchmenmovie.com

[ Parent ]
by Kasreyn on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:58:32 PM EST


*swabs battery acid on eyeballs with Q-tips*

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
diagetic? (none / 0) (#28)
by dstillz on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 12:11:11 PM EST

What does "diagetic" mean? I can't find it in the dictionary.

Diagetic (2.50 / 4) (#33)
by maru on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 05:06:57 PM EST

Check http://www.english.ilstu.edu/students/ajskorp/final/diagetic.htm . Looks like pretentious artistic term used to denote what parts of a work exist only for the viewer to experience, and what parts of a work both viewer and character can experience.

[ Parent ]
Define 'pretentious' (2.00 / 2) (#59)
by extra88 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:22:34 AM EST

pretentious adj. - Any term maru has to look up in a dictionary.

[ Parent ]
Goddamn. (none / 1) (#85)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 03:16:52 PM EST

That is pretentious.

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

it looked good.... (1.50 / 2) (#43)
by /dev/trash on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 10:58:18 PM EST

Until I saw that Tarentino had his grubby paws on it.

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
ah, but (none / 0) (#46)
by Phil Urich on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 11:36:22 PM EST

only a tiny bit of it, I heard.

[ Parent ]
he directed ONE SCENE (none / 0) (#70)
by transient0 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 05:18:11 PM EST

and honestly, it was pretty good.
lysergically yours
[ Parent ]
so. (none / 1) (#72)
by /dev/trash on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 12:17:37 AM EST

When I see it I just have to watch out of the very bloody and very dull conversation scene?

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Sun Apr 03, 2005 at 11:14:32 PM EST

... out of interest, which actresses flash their tits? Curious minds want to know.

AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
We aim's ta please (none / 1) (#63)
by extra88 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:17:37 AM EST

Jaime King as Goldie (I'm pretty sure it's not a body double though the film is so CG'd its hard to say for certain) and Carla Gugino (who played the Spy Mom in Rodriguez's Spy Kids movies) as Lucille, Marv's parole officer (definitely *not* a CG job).

There might be a couple of Old Town Girls I'm forgetting but the list definitely does not include the other "star" women, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, or Brittany Murphy.

[ Parent ]

My thoughts (2.83 / 6) (#48)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:35:26 AM EST

Apparently there are a lot of Frank Miller fans who think Sin City is a groundbreaking movie because of how well it has been translated to the screen. This may or may not be true, I can't judge that, never having read any of Frank Miller's stuff. When I watched the film, I was coming in with no big preconceived ideas beyond having seen the trailer (very cool) and having read a few reviews (mostly very positive).

I found myself unable to enjoy much of Sin City, which surprised me. I think I'm pretty good at appreciating a movie for what the director is trying to do and not for whether I necessarily agree with it. I can appreciate light entertainment as well as more serious stuff. I've seen lots of movies, some very different, and Sin City is up there with only two or three other ones that I was just unable to like.

Dammit, I hate it when that happens.

There are movies that don't live up to my expectations. I generally consider this my fault and try not to hold it against the movie. (Incidentally, I think most comic book adaptations fall into this category for comic book fans, which IMHO is their loss.) There are movies that I partially or mostly understand - most movies fit in this category. Then there are movies that I don't understand at all. Don't usually feel comfortable holding that against them either, most of the time. Finally we've got movies that I think I understand too well. This is where you'll find all of the ones I really dislike - all two or three of them. Their crime is mostly in being too boring and shallow to be entertaining. Sin City is one of those movies.

The visuals were pretty nice overall. The use of color was very cool and so were the parts where the contrast was turned up until the white positively glowed, and the bits where they did the full contrast silhouettes, but a lot of it was a pretty mundane grayscale. Honestly, if asked to point to something really revolutionary or unique in visual presentation I'd choose the rotoscoping techniques used in Waking Life and the upcoming A Scanner Darkly.

The visual style and composition itself is of course straight out of the [comic book|graphic novel], and has all the benefits and drawbacks that that entails. Yeah, that's right, drawbacks. Others have gone over that in more detail, suffice it to say that it fits with the rest of the movie, and is probably it's greatest triumph. So too with the dialog. Pretty cheesy, but that's noir for ya. Probably works better in print.

Ken Tucker of New York Magazine thinks that Sin City has "a thrilling undercurrent of morality." He's right about the undercurrent of morality, although I disagree about how thrilling it is. Despite all the noise about "it's just mindless entertainment", I think that among the people who like this film there are a lot more who agree with him than not. Hollywood puts out lots of big budget mindless entertainment that utterly bombs, because at the end of the day there is such a thing as entertainment that just fails to connect with the viewer on any meaningful level. Face it, if you really liked this movie it's due in significant part to the theme, the gestalt, or the message if you prefer. 99% of you are like me, that is not sophisticated film connoisseurs appreciating it purely for it's artistic merit, whatever that means - quit kidding yourself.

Ultimately, I think what bugs me is the movie's lack of reflection. By and large it takes itself seriously, this is after all, adopted from graphic novels aimed squarely at adults. Not to say there is no humor (because there is some) or that none of the characters have fun doing what they do (because many of them obviously do), but ultimately there is an underlying theme here that takes itself seriously. It's a view of truth, good and evil, that is simple, sharp, and unselfconsciously dumb.

Take Marv's easy tracking down of Goldie's killer. How'd he do it so quickly and easily? Torture baby, the gateway to truth, reserved for those with the strength of character to use it. Take Hartigan's feelings for Nancy. He knows she's being immature falling in love with him, but, eh, why not indulge - it's easy. Take Miho's deconstruction of Jackie Boy and his groupies - about as difficult (and as interesting to watch) as pulling legs off a bug. Take Marv's defeat of Kevin, the end of the only halfway good fight scene in the entire movie. Once he slaps the handcuff on it's all over - because Kevin just stands there. His fighting style is so limited that when his one trick is taken away he suffers a total paralyzing failure of imagination - he doesn't even have the werewithal to take a swipe to the face with his other hand as Marv stands there, gloatingly monologuing like a dumbass. Just like that the movie removes much of your respect for Kevin, and by implication, Marv's victory.

I found it hard to respect any of the characters in the movie, really. Marv's too dumb to realize that the "angel" he wants to die for was using him - either that or he's got so little self-respect that he doesn't care. Hartigan's got a real jealousy problem with regards to Yellow Bastard. Dwight just likes to hang around the 'ho's in Old Town like a leech eagerly waiting to be needed, a desire the movie is happy to meet. The fems are all wimpy wenches, paper tigers, or backstabbing bitches, with the exception of Miho. Gail has her moments, but in the end she's just another 'ho, hanging off Dwight's chest with stars in her eyes, safe from the big bad world in the arms of her man. These characters know how to look like badasses, but at heart they don't really know what it means. They have no respect for themselves, and no desire for it. They are not sympathetic because they do not want to be sympathetic. In the end, they just want the easy way out, and the movie gives it to 'em. When you know you can't beat your enemy, just pop a cap in your forhead and save them the trouble. Yeah, that's gonna work. Loser.

In the end it's just too shallow and boring to entertain me. Maybe I've lost contact with my inner insecure cynic, but if I want to see ugly truth I'll probably watch Saving Private Ryan or something. If I want to see cool visuals or good action I'll watch Crouching Tiger or The Matrix, or any number of better movies.

Gratuitous political statement: In the era of outrage over Abu Ghraib and perceived American military excesses, you'd think there'd be a little less endorsement of the effectiveness of torture and a little more curiosity about the differences between fighting evil and being evil, especially from the ostensibly leftward leaning Hollywood crowd. Oh yeah, that's right, it's just a movie. No one really believes that crap.

Well I know I don't, and it ruined the movie for me. Ah well, that's the way it goes sometimes.

On exaggeration: Yeah it's pulp, yeah it's supposed to be over the top, but exaggeration is just a style, a technique. I have no problem with exaggeration, but I can be annoyed or bored by the thing being exaggerated if it's lame enough. Digital shooting and editing (both incredibly wonderful things) are both forms of exaggeration themselves, ways of enhancing and amplifying a director's creativity. So much the worse if the director has little to say that's not inane.

thanks for the "A Scanner Darkly" link (none / 0) (#50)
by zrail on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 12:47:13 AM EST

That's one of may PKD books that are on my list to read when I get a chance. The visuals look stunning.

[ Parent ]
A non-Quicktime preview link if you want... (none / 0) (#87)
by 123456789 on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:01:21 PM EST


If you don't have/don't want apple's player, they offer several formats. Also iFilm.com has a trailer for it (search for the title) but I couldn't get it to come up.

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
- Soren Kierkegaard
[ Parent ]
That's some lengthy analysis. (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by Theoretical User on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 04:03:04 AM EST

Ultimately, I think what bugs me is the movie's lack of reflection. By and large it takes itself seriously, this is after all, adopted from graphic novels aimed squarely at adults. Not to say there is no humor (because there is some) or that none of the characters have fun doing what they do (because many of them obviously do), but ultimately there is an underlying theme here that takes itself seriously. It's a view of truth, good and evil, that is simple, sharp, and unselfconsciously dumb.

Take 1 movie.
Add morals that aren't there.
Shake for hours.

Serves a big piling heap of bad experience for one.

Stop it! Stop It! STOP IT! If you think that all protagonists are "good", then you have no right analyzing the movie. Marv tortured people because that's what Marv does.

I mean... look at what you're saying. It's serious because the graphic novels are written for adults? Non-Sequiter.

Go take a huge dump and then try again when you're not so full of yourself.

Your Wife Gives Bad Head. -- CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

If you think (none / 0) (#64)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:34:27 AM EST

I want the protagonists to be unambiguously good, I've utterly failed to communicate. Actually, making the antagonists not be unambiguously bad would be nice for starters.

If you would like to pretend that there's no underlying reasons for any of the character's behaviors and that they do what they do just because that's what they do, go right ahead. Sounds hella boring to me.

[ Parent ]

for starters (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by Altus on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:51:59 PM EST

The Protagonists ARE BAD.  They aren't nice people... thats part of the point.

If you force them to be anything but what they are you are changing the story... holywoodifying it if you will.  Marv is not good person... not even close... he is practically a perfect force of evil... he just ended up on the right side of things.

hardigan is the only character in the story who is remotely "good" and even he has strong tendencies that are evil... thats kind of the point.

"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

See, (none / 1) (#69)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:24:51 PM EST

to me, "hollywoodifying" means simplifying, not just making the good guys all nice and tacking on happy endings. Those things are not bad in themselves, they only become bad when they simplify away stuff that matters.

In that sense, Sin City is a particularly egregarious case of hollywoodification. There's a lot of good stuff to be mined out of blurring the lines between good and evil, but Sin City just fails it in that respect. None of the characters that are supposed to be bad have anything blurry about them, and none of the characters that are supposed to be at all sympathetic (which is not necessarily the same as "good") have any idea how dumb their motivations are.

Hartigan is no more "good" than Dwight or any one else, he's just got more angst. Yellow Bastard's just a pedophile, but at least he knows what he is.

This stuff makes Bruce Bannister's struggles with his inner demons look like Shakespeare in contrast.

[ Parent ]

Re: My thoughts (none / 1) (#65)
by Therac-25 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:18:10 PM EST

Once he slaps the handcuff on it's all over - because Kevin just stands there. His fighting style is so limited that when his one trick is taken away he suffers a total paralyzing failure of imagination - he doesn't even have the werewithal to take a swipe to the face with his other hand as Marv stands there, gloatingly monologuing like a dumbass. Just like that the movie removes much of your respect for Kevin, and by implication, Marv's victory.

FWIW, that wasn't the case in the original comic book. It was a case of taking the "storyboard" of the comic far too literally. Kevin had fought back and gouged his face out more while handcuffed, and Marv just did the "I'll take it" thing, and waited to get a shot in. Also, there was a panel in the book that looked identical to the "standing there" scene -- but because of the comic format, you got the impression of movement in the panel.

It's a case of careless omission and excessive devotion to the framing of the panel. I don't think that Rodreguizes' job is as good as everyone is saying it is -- it left alot of things shallower than they should have been. There needed to be more time, especially for Marv, for the audience to see him putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Perhaps a longer DVD director's cut might help the movie. It needed more time for the internal dialogue -- alot of it was cut tragically short. I'm guessing either the directors thought that it wasn't needed, or the producers had them cut it out for theatrical reasons.

Pick up/borrow/hang out in a comic shop and read while the owner looks at you like you're a thief/otherwise read a copy of The Hard Goodbye, and you'll see what I mean.
"If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
[ Parent ]

Re: marvs victory (3.00 / 3) (#66)
by Altus on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 01:42:44 PM EST

Much like many of the scenes of the movie time stops here... there is time for marv to get his line off without retaliation from kevin because the story board was a comic book.

think about it... how many times have you seen a panel from a comic book where in what must be a split second of real time, frozen in a little picture, the character gets off a paragraph of dialog.

now... take that scene.... that shot... put it on a comic page and put marvs dialog in a little box next to his head and you wouldnt think twice.

not you can call that a failing, but it was a choice... they chose to follow the comic as a story board... you see things like this everywhere... the action stops or slows to give a few seconds of screen time to a particular shot like a cell in a comic.

Dont get down on the movie because kevin didnt fight back (and after all... he was toast... nobody in the movie could stand toe to toe with marv for a half second or more... kevin, as good as he is, would know this)  This is a case where the style had to take over and frankly I think it worked beautifully.

It blows my mind how little people were willing to suspend disbelief for a freaking comic book move.  what was the last action movie you liked... If Ive seen it I will be happy to pick it apart with the cold eye of reality, whether I liked it or not.


"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

The reason I picked that scene (none / 0) (#71)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 06:27:53 PM EST

was that I felt it was indicative of the movie as a whole. It's sort of a waste to debate it, because I can pick any number of other examples - I've listed a few already.

In any case, word on the street is that Kevin actually did fight back longer in the book, in which case I think the choice to shoot it the way it was in the movie was even more inexcusably bad. If they would have just paused for the dialog that might have worked, but that's not what happened.

The fight scene really isn't all that bad in pure action terms for an American movie. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine because I like my action a certain way, but it's not something I would usually pick out if it had no connection to the rest of the movie.

[ Parent ]

Irony. (none / 1) (#84)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 03:13:17 PM EST

The "Waking Life" technique makes some people seasick. And it's gimmicky as all hell. I didn't mind it, but I didn't quite see the point, either.

But I think the real issue is what you call a lack of self-reflection. Too many stories are too self-aware, too cautious, making themselves impossible to mock by tacking on an ironic stance as armor. (Kinda like teenagers.) It was refreshing, for me, to see something that was unashamed to take that gigantic leap into over-the-top corniness.

And could you explain to me the difference between "artistic merit" and "ooh, pretty!"? Lightning streaking across the blood-red sky as the Old Town girls---how does Dwight put it?---"fire and reload and fire and reload and fire and watch their heads explode and their guts fly like butcher's scraps..." How does artistic merit differ from beauty? Can you explain it to me?

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

'A Scanner Darkly' cinematograhy? Bleh. (none / 0) (#99)
by Kadin2048 on Wed May 11, 2005 at 12:32:40 AM EST

Maybe I'm the only one, but I just watched the preview for "A Scanner Darkly" and my first reaction to the cinematography was to gag. It looks like some Photoshopped live-action/anime cross, while failing at both. I hope that if I was watching it for long enough I'd just begin to get used to it and it would go away, but if not, it's going to give me a hell of a headache. I'll suspend judgment until I see the movie, but if anyone thinks that's better than the style used in Sin City, then I think we opposite sides of a very wide stylistic gulf.

[ Parent ]
A key aspect of the film (none / 1) (#53)
by vera on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 02:08:46 AM EST

that I feel is necessary to be picked up on is the sense of the setting being bereft of all hope.  The idea of any truly meaningful connection between two people is madness to entertain, but the minor couplings that substitute for such act as one-in-a-millions, in a sense.

I enjoyed this film because it brought out the smallest spark of hope in the deepest atmosphere of despair.

I suppose it could be argued that the insane extreme to which nearly everything in the film was brought is in itself a form of mediocrity, but it appealed to me in the same way nightmares can be a drug to make the mornings feel better.

Breaking the wall. (none / 1) (#83)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 03:01:08 PM EST

Sort of how the final Sin City story (Hell and Back) ends with the hero leaving town, sun shining, birds chirping and all, saying that it's the town... it corrupts everything in it.

Eh, I'm forgetting the exact line.

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

I must admit I was deeply dissappointed (2.80 / 5) (#57)
by DavisImp on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:02:35 AM EST

This whole post is full of spoilers; if you haven't seen the movie yet, you probably shouldn't read it.

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I believe comics should be given their due as an art form, and I generally love style over stubstance. Instead, I came out frustrated and disappointed,

I won't argue that the film wasn't a stylistic achievement. It's just dripping with care and gorgeous imagery. It's truly unlike anything I've ever seen before, and that's a rare thing to see these days. But this just disappoints me more. It's vaguely embarrassing to see a movie this innovate and fresh deliver with so little to say, like listening to a stirring Martin Luther King speech on the chicks he's banged.

So I've seen people argue that the morality of the film is its bleak worldview, or its vision of corruption all the way to the top, or the endorsement of a sort of libertarian vigilante justice. While all of these are largely true, they miss the mark; they all evaluate the morality of the movie without understanding where it comes from.

The moral message of the film was "they just don't understand you." Every single (anit) hero of each of the story-lines was a misunderstood tough guy, a man persued by both cops and criminals, a lone sadistic avenging angel of justice in a brutally corrupt world. In short, it's the type of main character that every high-school loser wants desperately to be, salivates over, stays up at night masturbating about, dresses in a black trenchcoat and pretends to be. Every piece of the movie follows the same adolescent themes: the tough, damaged women who need a strong but silent type to protect or avenge them; the ridiculous machismo; the dangerousness of all the main characters and the confidence with which they move; the corruption of all authority. Even the nihlism that permeates the film is just an excuse for social isolation: after all, the if you feel like you've been rejected by the world, you create a world that deserves it.

Each theme is exactly mirrored by the lives of the people who really get into this stuff. The deference and respect of women reflects the indifference and scorn they experience day to day; the machismo mirrors their own inability to project masculinity; the dangerousness of the characters grows from their inability to get anyone to take them seriously; the corruption of authority results from their own stifling experiences with school, parents, and/or work. Tragically, one could make a very very good movie from these dichotomies. The way that the tumultuous feelings of isolation, helplessness, social rejection and alienation from authority structures creates the anti-hero would make an extremely compelling drama. Instead, we just get the guns and the blood.

So what gets left out? Anything that would intrude on the fantasy. Take Marv for an example. For all of his whining about how women won't touch him because of his "ugly face", women treat him with nothing but kindness and, deference, and a subtle sense of awe. He repeatedly asserts his physical and often mental prowess over them, usually through the deferred threat of physical violence. Rejection is allowed only in the abstract; the only rejection allowed his character is a result of a misunderstanding, trivially easy to clear up. Dwight's tale has a similar theme. Hartigan's is virtually the same.

Perhaps the only time the movie surprised me is when Bruce Willis' character loses his court case and winds up in jail. Had there been no redemption of his character, had his story ended there, I would've had a lot more respect for the movie and the story has a whole. To leave him alone, beaten and humiliated, would've showed balls, a conviction in the idea that the world is a cruel unjust place. Instead, he ends up making out with Jessica Alba. The movie is far too moralistic for its own good.

For while all the heros have horrible traits, the bad guys have absolutely nothing at all to redeem them. This is a stunningly, jaw-droppingly bone-headed maneuver for any genre piece which wants to talk about the complexity of human motivation. If you want to deal with moral ambiguity, with corruption and the ability of any good man to go bad, you cannot have a villian who is unambiuously evil. You destroy the whole point. And with every single villian in this movie, major or minor, there wasn't a second of humanity. Weakness, power, hatred, loyalty, all of these, but never a moment that makes you think, "but for the grace of god, there go I." This makes it incredibly simple to figure out the good guys and bad guys by exclusion; if they've got a dim memory of what it means to love and care for someone, than they must be good. If there's none, then they're bad. Simple. Easy. And nowhere near as interesting as real life.

But I was most dissapointed by its utter failure to bring comic books the credibility they so desperately want. I wanted this project to succeed in that respect. Unfortunately, when I left the theater, it felt like I had lived someone's dark daydream, experienced a competently written and well-staged bout of fantasy wish-fulfillment. It was a great adaptation of a comic book, but the whole thing never got anywhere near deserving the label "graphic novel".

The cheapening of maturity (none / 1) (#58)
by DavisImp on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:14:17 AM EST

This probably should be a separate thread, but I don't want to clutter up the main page =).

The other thing that really bugged me is the whole theme of maturity in comic books, or wannabe "graphic novels". I love the idea of comic books growing up; as I've grown up, it'd be nice to see these things grow along with me, dealing with more complex things and characters who deal with real issues. Instead, we end up with more brutality, more violence, more sex, and none of it saying anything about real people. Mature situations are a cheap substitute for real maturity, and this movie had a lot of the former and very little of the later.

In our culture, we often get these two things confused. Films get rated on a scale of "maturity", but all an R rating means is that the sex is hotter and bullets draw blood. It's sad to me to go back to old movies and see sex, violence and their consequences handled with greater depth and grace back when they were much more viciously censored. Sure, we've got a lot more freedom to show what we want on the screen now, but are we bothering to use it in a worthwhile manner?

I hate to say it, but "the incredibles" is a much more mature movie -- even as a KID'S movie -- than this was. Sin City just had nothing to say about the human condition that was worth saying.

[ Parent ]
Yup (none / 1) (#62)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 10:14:45 AM EST

It's sad when kids movies are more mature than supposedly gritty hard core adult stuff.

[ Parent ]
Ghost World and American Splendour (none / 1) (#74)
by spurious on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:36:20 AM EST

Your posts are spot on. Miller's work, especially the Dark Knight series, are imbued with those fantasies born out of adolescent inadequacy.

I loved Miller's work growing up, especially his Daredevil run. I loved the way he re-invented Daredevil and Batman. But I agree that Sin City, while visually extravagant, lacks the human insight that would make it a truly great film.

I think that Miller made such an impact on the superhero comic book... er, "graphic novel" genre because the writing up to then was so poor to begin with. He definitely brought in a style that many others copied afterward. I feel the same way now about Dave Sim, whose Cerebus I adored early on, but as I grew older, realized that for all the stylistic innovations he created, his writing was ultimately shallow.

Superman 2, Spiderman 2, the Incredibles and maybe X-Men 2 are probably the best adaptations in the superhero genre to date. As for other "graphic novel" movie adaptations, I'm afraid of what horrors Hollywood would do to Alan Moore or Warren Ellis.

If you're looking for good films adapted from comics, why only consider superhero ones? Probably the best comic adaptations to date are Ghost World and American Splendour, and I think both films would satisfy your concerns. These films featured strong writing, acting and overall craft. I believe both were also nominated for writing Oscars.

[ Parent ]

Displacement. (none / 1) (#82)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 02:57:01 PM EST

As for other "graphic novel" movie adaptations, I'm afraid of what horrors Hollywood would do to Alan Moore or Warren Ellis.

Why wait?

What angers me about poor adaptations of source material is that it displaces potential good adaptations. Rumor has it that Harlan Ellison wrote a screenplay based on I, Robot which is a rather good dramatic interpretation of the short story series. But ever since some compost heap in a suit decided to "rebrand" their Will Smith vehicle ("Hardwired") with the Asimov name, the chances for that adaptation have dropped to fucking nil. (Alan Tudyk was far too good for that movie, by the way.)

Heard they're going to butcher Watchmen. Now there's a comic practically written to be dumped straight from page to screen, segues and all. Except for the mass of false documents and such. How would you fit excerpts from "Behind the Mask" into a movie? Hmm.

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

LXG... noooooo (none / 0) (#90)
by spurious on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 11:51:23 PM EST

Oh my god, I had totally repressed the memory of seeing LXG until you reminded me... thanks, thanks a lot.

[ Parent ]
Don't forget (none / 0) (#93)
by Pxtl on Wed Apr 06, 2005 at 10:53:27 PM EST

Moore's From Hell was also a movie (a weak one, but nothing like the LXG debacle)... and I've seen some sexy movie posters for "V for Vendetta".

[ Parent ]
Blade and Mystery Men (none / 0) (#98)
by DarKNighT on Thu Apr 21, 2005 at 06:45:19 AM EST

I think 'Blade' (the first) and 'Mystery Men' were actually miles better than 'X-Men' (1 and 2) and 'Spiderman' (1 and 2).

In 'Comic Book Movies' by David Hughes, Marv Wolfman said that the Blade portrayed in the movie was HIS Blade, right there on the screen. 'Blade 2', however, sucked (my opinion).

'Mystery Men' was just an excellent movie. Great characterisation, effects, and story.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps you missed the point. (none / 1) (#81)
by grendelkhan on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 02:34:55 PM EST

I don't think that Sin City was about the subtleties of moral complexities. If you've ever seen the books, they're quite literally black and white (and a very occasional splash of color)---1-bit grayscale. Of course the good guys are incredibly sympathetic---if we weren't listening to Marv's internal monologue, he'd come off as just another villain---and of course the villains are utterly evil.

It's too bad that moral complexity gets confused with the cult of the antihero, and keeps folks from enjoying Sin City for what it is---a hell of a vision.

You know, I never really noticed the Trench Coat Mafia vibe. Perhaps I was reading them wrong, but I appreciated the tits and violence without ever identifying with any of the characters. (Well, except for Liebowitz from "Hell and Back". You saw him as the cop in the white shirt beating the crap out of either Marv or Hartigan, I forget which, but that was just a cameo, really.)

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]

I never read comic books. I didnt like this movie. (none / 1) (#97)
by thatto on Tue Apr 19, 2005 at 07:27:12 AM EST

I am not a fan of comics. As a child I had no interest in them, and as an adult, I cannot understand why people my age still buy them. But then again, I dont know why people my age do a lot of things (WWE...NASCAR...etc.). So here are some quick thoughts on the movie


The Bad: The characters are as flat as the pages from which they were pulled. There is no character devlopment. There is no jeopardy. I didnt care that Bruce Willis' character was in jail. It didnt even matter why. The pace of the film was SLOW. I was more interested in the actors make-up and prosthetics, than the movie itself. The transitions felt like the cutscenes from a bad video game. And there I sat, with no escape key

The good: this movie brought a visual style to the screen that has never been done. There is real potential with this type of film making. I was surprised at how easily I adjusted to the colors of the film, At how unreal the scene looked when the cop pulls over Dwight, and shines his flashlight in his face. The color of the real world looked out of place in the greyscale reality of Basin City

The ugly: Mickey Rourke. They made him look like a scarred gorilla.

[ Parent ]

Sin City:The french(canadian) CGI Connection (none / 1) (#60)
by z6 on Mon Apr 04, 2005 at 09:28:42 AM EST

Sin City slickers http://www.hour.ca/film/film.aspx?iIDArticle=5669

Unclench Comic Book Nerds (1.66 / 6) (#77)
by JosephK on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:17:38 AM EST

All you comic book nerds need to unclench, put down your 64 oz. super big gulps for a moment, adjust your bitch tits, and learn how to enjoy a cinematic experience a little bit. The movie rocks. Will it change your life? No. That's what going outside more often, or stopping eating McDonald's 4 times a day will do; change your life. Sin City will entertain you for a couple hours, supposing you unclench enough to allow that to happen.
HTML is Dead.
Says (none / 1) (#94)
by starsky on Thu Apr 07, 2005 at 12:15:20 PM EST

JosephK of Linux Programming blog on the interwebulator.

[ Parent ]
Not the first dark-comic movie... (none / 1) (#86)
by Parity on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:00:05 PM EST

I've been subjected to Nick Fury quite a few times
over the past couple months as I've been channel
surfing. Eh. Gah. Maybe that was a fevered
nightmare since we're assured this is the first
dark comic made into a movie.

Going back a bit more, I seem to recall that there
was The Crow. I seem to recall it was f***ing
great. Maybe I dreamed it, since we're now assured
this is -the- first dark comic made into a movie.

Anyway, it's hard to read the other comments for
the spoilers to be dodged, but I see the reaction
is not universally favorable. I'll give it a shot,
but this review really doesn't have any credibility
with me. Or rather, no more credibility than
hearing any random comic book fan say 'cool movie,
go see it.'

Sin City - a real pageturner | 99 comments (83 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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