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Bewildering Stories

Robert Rodriguez, et al., dirs., Sin City

reviewed by Christopher Stires

Sin City

Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and special guest director Quentin Tarantino

Date: 2005

Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba and a buncha other people. Based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller.

Walk down the right back alley in Sin City
and you can find anything.

Friends kept telling me that I needed to see this movie. So finally I did. The storyline is based on the hard-boiled graphic novels of Frank Miller. It is several tough tales of crime and revenge in the noir land of perpetual night and rain called Sin City. Cool. My kind of movie. I had hoped.

It is an interesting experiment in style, I will admit. At a running length of over two hours, however (with an even longer director’s cut), style does not overcome substance. Way back in the day, Hollywood used to produce story-thin all-star blockbusters like Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and The Longest Day (1962). In those films, the screen would be filled with stars in minor roles and bit parts. That’s how this felt. Who would pop up next? Hey, there’s Elijah Frodo Wood and there’s the always reliable Michael Madsen and there’s Brittany Murphy and so on.

There were some interesting visual moments. (Okay, politically incorrect confession — I’m a guy and Jessica Alba and Carla Gugino are very attractive and Gugino is nude in almost every scene she’s in. I’ll go to the corner now and hang my head in shame.) There were some memorable lines like “She doesn’t quite chop his head off. She makes a Pez dispenser out of him.” and “He’s dead. He’s just too damn dumb to know it.”

But the only storyline that truly intrigued me was ugly Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) vow to get the killer of a hooker who was nice to him. But even this storyline didn’t have enough meat on its bones to keep me hooked. Bad joke here: the hooker’s killer is also a cannibal.

I’m glad I saw it. Probably will never watch it a second time, however. Now I just have to figure out why my friends thought I’d really like it. What does that say about them? What does that say about me? Hmmm.

Trivia: Rodriguez stated that he does not consider this film to be an adaptation but a translation. That is why there are no screenwriting credits.

Copyright © 2006 by Christopher Stires

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