Customer Review

492 of 585 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, I liked it..., April 20, 2005
While it's probably a total cliche to say it by now, Sin City really is a wild thrill ride of a movie, and quite possibly the most entertaining thing that will hit theaters all year. Adapted by director Robert Rodriguez from Frank Miller's graphic-novel series, it's an energetic slab of neo-noir, complete with twisted characters, ambiguous morality, and deadly serious dialogue. For those who thought the Kill Bill movies weren't bizarre or violent enough, Sin City ought to seem like a stylish, action-packed gift from guy-movie heaven. It's filled with negativity, outrageously over the-top bloodletting, and some of the blackest humor known to man, but it all works anyway. I even managed to forgive the incessant voice-over narration, normally a rather lazy device, because it's so oddly poignant and poetic. It's not really that big a deal anyway, because this movie is so impressive visually that the characters could speak in gibberish and I'd probably still be moved to give it at least three stars.

It should be noted right off the bat that Sin City is not a movie for everyone, but if you're the type who would like it you presumably know who you are. IF you like crime movies, especially those filled with action and atmosphere, you will almost certainly get a kick out of Sin City. If you prefer lighter, more "socially redeeming" fare, you may still like it, or you may be overcome with bile filling your throat for most of its two-hour running time. It's all a matter of how willing you are to accept what's going on without asking too many nagging questions like "How exactly did Mickey Rourke just take out ten armed riot cops with nothing more than his fists and a hatchet?" or "is it really possible or even necessary to manually tear off a man's scrotum?". Everything about this movie is utterly outsized, from the themes to the characters to the action, but in the end it's a rousing success at what it intends to do, which is entertain. It's precisely because this movie was so utterly entertaining that I found myself unwilling to nitpick; you'll probably be too busy having your senses assaulted to linger on any problems you may have with the movie. Nothing is more key in movies (or TV, or novels for that matter) than getting the viewer to suspend disbelief, to simply let go and enjoy what's transpiring regardless of the plausibility level. Some of my favorite movies are wildly unrealistic, but at some point when watching them I just decided to go with it. Sin City is one such movie: I realized early on that the events unfolding onscreen bore little to no resemblance to reality as presently constituted; I just didn't care. I went to see this movie with my wife (who is, to put it mildly, not a fan of dark or violent movies), and she may have summed up the experience of watching it the best when she said simply "I was never bored." That, ultimately, is the secret to Sin City's success: it's so gripping to watch that it's hard to care about anything else.

As everyone (and probably their brothers) knows by now, Sin City was filmed using real actors against a black-and-white CGI background with some touches of color added for dramatic effect. It may seem like a gimmick at first, but Sin City is all about bringing the viewer into a sort of parallel universe, so this unconventional device works perfectly. Sin City is a movie dealing with lives on the edge, and it conjures up a delightfully dark, grimy, and gritty atmosphere to go match the depravity of its subject matter. Weighty themes and over-the-top violence abound here, and it's only fitting that the movie's look and feel should be so uniformly haunting. Consisting of three tangentially related stories occurring out of sequence, Sin City brings the viewer into an underworld populated by thieves, murderers, hookers, and dirty cops, and the morality is viewed entirely in shades of grey. In the Basin City of the movie, where the good guys are bad and the bad guys are even worse, violence is often a virtue, or at the very least a prerequisite for survival. If there's one redeeming value to Sin City's cartoonish ultraviolence, it's that it's painfully clear that its recipients generally deserve it.

Anyway, if there's one theme running through all of these stories, it's that of redemption. The protagonist in each tale (Bruce Willis's Hartigan, Rourke's Marv, and Clive Owen's Dwight) is a most unlikely hero (although Hartigan is just a regular cop and therefore not exactly bad, whereas it's clear that Marv and Dwight are murderers), but each finds himself driven to acts of extreme courage and sacrifice in order to see justice done. Sin City portrays a kind of heroism not typically seen in movies (especially big-budget, sanitized Hollywood productions), one that comes from doing the right thing even when it's nowhere near being the easiest thing. Rourke's Marv is probably the most memorable character, a hulking thug with a highly overdeveloped sense of vengeance who managed to arouse some of my sympathy even as he cut a swath of unimaginable destruction through his enemies on his way to avenging a murdered prostitute. Out of the legions of other figures in the movie, the great Benicio Del Toro deserves some special mention as a comically malevolent crooked cop who won't shut up even after he meets his unfortunate end.

Now, although I've gone on too long already, I'd feel remiss if I didn't talk about Sin City's staggering violence quotient. Yes, this an extremely graphic movie, and much of the violence is downright disturbing to watch (Elijah Wood's character being cut up and fed to a wolf is a prominent example, even if much of the violence in that case was implied), but it's just as true that context is an important factor when considering just how offensive such bloodletting is. Now, for one thing, Sin City is meant to be a piece of escapist cinema, so nothing that takes place onscreen should be taken too seriously anyway. After all, no one got offended during the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when King Arthur cut off the Black Knight's arms and legs; that scene was meant to be funny and it was. Perhaps more to the point, the violence here is so ludicrously over the top from the opening scene that it's hard to imagine any rational person getting too upset. You have to just go with it; if you're the kind of person who makes it a point to be huffy and offended all the time you shouldn't be seeing this movie anyway. 'Nuff said
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2009 12:52:50 AM PDT
Solypsys says:
I agree with most of your review and it is definitely detailed but I think you may have missed the point of its unique direction, the lazy narrative "device" and the "gimmicky" black and white (with red) color scheme are there to make the movie look like the graphic novel. They weren't going for a "noir" edgy film, they were recreating the art and dialogue seen in the graphic novel. (a lot of the dialogue in a graphic novel is a narrative and Frank Miller's trademark is the black/white/red scheme)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2011 9:43:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 2, 2011 9:45:16 AM PDT
Obviously a F. Miller afficianado....an interesting take on the man. For me the film felt right from the beginning. Although falling asleep in the theatre when released(really, really tired), I hung in there long enough to suss it out as a worthwhile movie. In fact I rented it consistently for about 60 months before buying. A definite unforgettable thrill ride cunningly, expertly achieved!

Posted on Jun 30, 2011 9:45:27 AM PDT
A VERY GOOD, SPOT ON REVIEW....KUDOS!!!

Posted on Apr 8, 2013 12:47:25 AM PDT
thedre says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jul 31, 2013 12:12:46 PM PDT
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