I caught Sin City on the weekend. A Robert Rodriguez (& Frank Miller, & Quentin Tarantino) film based on Frank Miller’s series of Graphic Novels, I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. After all, the Sin City series had been called “unfilmable” not that long ago. But Rodriguez, if anyone could do it, could pull it off – his film repertoire is long and varied (Spy Kids vs. From Dusk ‘Till Dawn); He understands how to effectively use CGI (Spy Kids); He knows how to make violence stylized & even a little beautiful (El Mariachi, Desperado); he understands the camp aspects of the series (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn). What was unclear was whether or not he could bring it all together successfully.
The answer, quite simply, is ohmygodyes. The film is beautiful, visceral, noir, edgy, and best of all, a little silly, in the ways that the graphic novels were too. If you don’t like noir or you don’t like comics, you won’t like this movie. It takes an appreciation of both: never have I seen such a successful interpretation of the slightly surreal world that exists in most comics. The film, in parts, is panel-by-panel faithful – to the point that it could potentially detract from the film, but take here to an extreme, works.
I might entertain that the film is too long. I didn’t mind this at all, so wrapped up in the visual beauty of the film, but if you’re not a film-geek or a comics-geek, that might not last for you. The performances were also quite varied in quality, from Mickey Rourke’s scene-stealingly good to Britney Murphy’s scene-destroyingly bad. But for the most part, everyone served their parts well, and bought right into the movie’s ethos.
Anyone who’s read Sin City can safely see this film, secure in the knowledge that their beloved novels have been treated right. And everyone else should see the film, and then of course, buy the books to make their own comparisons.
One side note: This film is not for the squeamish: while highly stylized, it is, in parts, quite gorey.