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"Sin City" Movie Review

A Visually Stunning Feast of Blood, Guts and Gore


Clive Owen Benicio Del Toro Sin City

Clive Owen ('Dwight') and Benicio Del Toro ('Jackie Boy') in "Sin City"

© Dimension Films
I’d been eagerly anticipating “Sin City” for months and you know how that normally winds up. When your expectations are so high, chances are very slim the final product will live up to its promise. But “Sin City” blew me away, easily surpassing anything I’d hoped for from the film. Wildly provocative and featuring one of the sexiest casts collected together in a feature film, Robert Rodriguez and “Sin City” creator/co-director Frank Miller have made a movie that feels retro yet is so fresh and new, it’s tough to actually take in everything in just one sitting.

The most literal translation of a graphic novel (don’t call it a ‘comic book’ – I’ve learned that lesson the hard way) to film yet, “Sin City” doesn’t settle for just using Frank Miller’s stories – The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard – as jumping off points. Instead, filmmaker/digital devotee Rodriguez chose to shoot the movie sticking to the graphic novels as close as cinematically possible, even going as far as using Miller’s dialogue in the film. The result is not so much simply a movie as it is a whole new film-going experience. Rodriguez combined his love of film noir with the desire to bring “Sin City” to the screen and created, along with co-director/"Sin City" guru Frank Miller, an ultra-violent explosion of blood, guts, and gore that’s so highly stylized, the shock value is somewhat lessened while the film remains true to the dark world of Miller’s “Sin City.”

The world inhabited by the citizens of Basin City (Sin City, for short) is one of cruelty and depravity, and yet also one of friendship, love, and loyalty. Most cops can’t be trusted and vigilante justice is the order of the day. The women aren’t afraid to bloody their hands or to walk around in nothing or next to nothing. They get slapped around (which is bound to generate complaints), but they also give as good as they get. It’s the grimy, grungy, seedy side of life and it’s not pretty. It’s not supposed to be. It is Frank Miller’s fictional world of “Sin City” brought to life straight from the pages of his graphic novels.

Converted to black and white with only a few splashes of color – red lipstick here, red satin sheets there, and of course Yellow Bastard is yellow - Rodriguez transports you to another place and time by crafting a dark, bleak, world filled with shadows and menacing landscapes. And if the tone and texture of the film doesn’t immediately enthrall you, the actors who bring Miller’s characters to life will.

The main male stars of “Sin City” are Mickey Rourke (in his best performance in easily a decade) as Marv in 'The Hard Goodbye,' a massive thug with a scarred, chiseled face no woman could love without being paid to; the Man Who Should Be Bond (otherwise known as Clive Owen) as Dwight, a murderer on the run in ‘The Big Fat Kill;’ and a screen chewing Bruce Willis playing Bruce Willis...I mean Hartigan, a hard-nosed, honest cop on the verge of retirement in ‘That Yellow Bastard.’ The women motivating the men to do what they do are blonde beauty Jaime King (Goldie/Wendy), S&M pin-up Rosario Dawson (Gail), and the very sexy Jessica Alba (Nancy).

Equally compelling in supporting roles are Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy, Brittany Murphy as Shellie, Nick Stahl as Yellow Bastard, Devon Aoki as Miho, Elijah Wood as Kevin and Alexis Bledel as Becky.

“Sin City” is definitely not a movie for everyone. If you check out the trailer and aren’t impressed, then it’s likely the movie will leave you feeling like you’ve wasted your time. Or worse, that you’ve just experienced “two hours of non-stop violence that calls itself a movie” (a quote I heard from one unimpressed audience member on the way out of the theater). The film’s unapologetically graphic and if you’re not prepared, you may find it more offensive than entertaining.

“Sin City” is violent, surprisingly humorous, sexy, innovative, provocative, visually stunning, relentlessly entertaining, and a movie that delivers something even the most jaded of moviegoers haven’t seen before. Gorgeous and gory, a graphic film noir taken to the nth level, “Sin City” is not just for devotees of Frank Miller. I’ve never read “Sin City” and it didn’t affect my viewing pleasure one iota.

I was more than ready to sit through another screening of “Sin City” immediately after the movie ended. Even though I see hundreds of movies each year, this is one film I know I’m going to find myself watching again and again – and a movie I can’t wait to own on DVD.


"Sin City" was directed by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller and special guest director, Quentin Tarantino. "Sin City" is rated R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including dialogue.

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