Hey folks, Harry here... I'm dying to see this film. Dying. All my doubts are officially gone. First off - I got a review - the type of reviews I despise that are literal step by step, shot for shot - that just spoils everything. I've chosen not to post it after talking with Moriarty & Quint - as there are going to be tons of reviews coming in on this movie - and they'll be all over the net. It sounds like Rodriguez and Miller nailed this one with railroad spikes. Beyond this - I've heard from a couple of folks that have seen it, as has Moriarty and the people we know... say it kicks unholy ass. Rodriguez? He's so happy with it that he's compulsively watching it over and over and over, unlike any film he's ever made, cuz he's so happy with it. Before I get to the main review - here's the opening of that spoiler review I was talking about - just so you can see how excited this comics professional (aka Killgore) got about the film:
I’m going to try to get through this without resorting to hyperbole or exaggeration and without resorting to comparing it to its source material. That said, Sin City is a remarkable film, burning high contrast images on the backs of your retinas (if I stare at a blank white surface, Marv jumps out at me, though I’d rather it be Alba), and the hard boiled Chandleresque characters are permanently burnt into the back of my skull. This is not an adaptation. Rodriguez has translated verbatim Frank Miller’s graphic novel into a bombastic, hyper-stylized, modern art movie. Miller’s comic has not only served as a basis for the film, but the panels themselves have transcended the page and are emblazed on the silver screen. And is it ever silver.
The titular city is a corrupt, hedonistic city that exists somewhere between the Chicago of Scarface and the sensational (first person that uses the adjective sin-sational to describe it gets his nuts ripped off) universe of Kill Bill. The Bride could easily hack her way through these tittie bars and brothels. The seedy characters here drive 1930’s era Studebakers and speak in film noir lingo.
Ok - and now for the star attraction... A warning though... this review may in fact create such a fanatical lusting for this film that you will be rendered utterly useless till April 1st - and for the subsequent weeks after you too have been made drooly by this flick. Here ya go...
harry, you haven't used any of my previous early reviews, but maybe now you might, if only because now the early review in question is for SIN CITY.
a little background--i'm a college student in boston, and my girlfriend got us tickets to a 2:30 PM sneak preview screening of SIN CITY at the Loews down the street; what's even cooler is the theater brought in a digital projector to show it. i don't know how she got 'em, i don't wanna know, but after seeing this film, i'm cool with whatever method of persuasion my little vixen of a gal used to score two tickets.
because this movie rocks.
you really have no idea. the previews rock, but the movie is so much more than any of them, with or without the music by the servants (the music in the movie is fine, but john debney, rodriguez, and graeme revell did it, not the servants). and best of all, i got to see it early. you all now have to sweat it out until April 1. well, maybe not you, harry, if only because you and rodriguez are tight. but hey, it sucks for me too, because the only thing i wanna do now is see SIN CITY again.
for those of you who don't know the plot, here's a brief summary:
story 1: the hard goodbye. initally called just sin city, the hard goodbye follows marv on his quest for vengeance after goldie, the one good thing in his life, is murdered next to him.
story 2: the big fat kill. this story follows dwight, a murderer with a new face, as he teams up with the prostitutes of Old Town to deal with the potentially fatal repercussions of killing dirty cop Jack Rafferty.
story 3: that yellow bastard. hardigan, the only decent cop in Sin City, squares off against Senator Roark as well as Roark's vicious, child molesting son Junior in an attempt to protect young Nancy Callahan.
additionally, these three stories are bookended with some short scenes dealing with Josh Hartnett's hitman character. the first one a lot of you have seen, i'm sure, when the comicon footage premiered online months ago, but the last one is new and a great way to end the movie.
this movie is almost a fuckin' masterpiece. even though i'm still jazzed by the whole experience, i can safely say it's the most visceral movie experience i've had in a long while, as well as maybe my new favorite comic book movie of all time (beating out superman 1 and 2, X2, and spiderman 2). i've only a few minor qualms, which i'll get to in a second, but they keep the movie at a 9, maybe only 9 and a half, than the perfect 10 it could be.
as much as i love what michael mann did with his high-def camera on collateral, rodriguez tops him on SIN CITY. harry, remember when you worried that the HD wouldn't look as good as film stock shot bu guillermo navarro? well, don't panic. the HD is positively lush, with great, rich blacks, greys, and whites. this looks like the bastard son of all the great '40s noir films ever made. and i mean that in the best way possible, i mean it as a compliment.
not only does rodriguez top mann, he also tops kerry conran and his digital work on sky captain. all the sets in this movie are CGI'ed in as well, but they feel real. the characters interact with them, rather than around them (my biggest sky captain qualm). best yet, this movie just feels like rodriguez simply filmed miller's comics. in a way, that's the best thing i could say about this movie. visually, it IS the comics, with the white characters on black backgrounds being particularily striking (josh hartnett and marley shelton kissing, or clive owen sinking to his doom in tar). i've always been a fan of rodriguez's directing style, but here, it truly seems like he gave the camera to frank miller and said "you know this world, you direct it." and miller hit a homerun. i know, going into the movie, i was jazzed about QT's guest contribution and picking it out, but i got so enrapped in the movie that i forgot all about it. no scene screams "tarantino" or "rodriguez," but it all screams "miller." great work, frank.
and what a work it is. it looks great, sounds great, and is ably supported by a great team of actors. the standouts, for me, are mickey rourke as marv and bruce willis as hartigan. frank miller proclaimed that "rourke is Marv," and he's dead on in his assessment. but more than simply being faithful to the look and sound of marv (which, admittedly, any big guy could do a serviceable job), rourke captures the man's soul. and it's wounded, man. we feel his pain in the loss of goldie, his worries that he might be losing his sanity, and all his primal anger. but, under it all, rourke makes us see the essential good in marv. in a way, it's almost like rourke's harry angel; a hard, scarred, tough as nails SOB, but with a good soul nothing (and i mean NOTHING) can touch. rourke is back with a vengeance, and his performance should garner more acclaim than it probably will. and willis, for the first time since Unbreakable, seems really alive in his work. he's magnetic, restrained rather than bored, and so intense in his pursuit of justice (so much so that what he does, like much in this movie, might make you squeam) that you can take your eyes of him. he's weary, broken-down, and almost dead, but he knows what's right and will stop at nothing to do so. following his beyond-phoned it in work in Hostage, Willis's hartigan is one of his best roles ever, and hopefully he will start taking on more challenging roles. do not worry, any of you naysayers, because he is better than clint eastwood could have ever been.
but really no one in the cast is a slacker. clive owen's american accent is a little dodgy, but he captures dwight's righteous fury like a pro and is aces reading miller's hard-boiled voice overs. james king and carla gugino are badass as well, and are extremely hot and naked in this movie (especially gugino---damn!!! this gal needs to do us all a favor and pose for playboy because she is a goddess). devon aoki is the darth maul of this movie, and her swordwork might steal away the movie from everybody else if the rest of the movie wasn't so good. michael clarke duncan always fares best in bad guy roles, and scores here as well. rosario dawson is obviously having a blast as gail, relishing the chance to kill lots of people, dress like the hottest bondage girl you've ever seen, and make out with clive owen (in a non-sex scene that was as hot as any full nudity sexual romp i've ever seen). she seems happy to be having fun rather than languishing in Alexander.
josh hartnettespecially hauer, who's magentic in his three minutes of screentime. plus, elijah wood, benicio del toro, and nick stahl are three of the sleaziest villians i've ever seen in the movies. del toro has the least screentime of the three, but his work is reminisent of young brando. really creepy, over-the-top, and loving every minute of it. the fact that he gives his all in a small role like this and blows a leading role in The Hunted really shows the faith he had in this project. between this and Bully, stahl is cornering the market on playing twisted young men, and it's a tribute to his skill that Junior is just as hideous before his "change" as he is after (although he's much much much more attractive before). and wood? i'm gonna say the least about him and leave it as a surprise for you to discover. all i'll say is that frodo baggins is dead, with this one performance, and wood IS simply terrifying and disturbing as kevin. hell, people in the audience were so unnerrved by him that they gasped EVERY TIME he came on screen.
before i get to the negatives, lemme assure you of two things.
1) the narration in the comics is still in the movie. i would say that probably 80% of it was kept, and it is terrific. owen, willis, and rourke all do a great job with it, and it enhances, rather than detracts from, the film. great stuff.
2) this movie is violent as hell. you have no idea unless you've read the comics, and even then you'll probably be surprised at how much rodriguez and miller have gotten away with. sure, they use some tricks like making blood yellow or white instead of red (at times; other times it's red as ever), but it's still one of the most graphically violent films i've ever seen. there are no clean wounds or slick violence in this film; it's all ragged and bloody and spurting and unclean and downright mean looking. the two grisly piece-de-resistances? hartigan's final confrontation with junior and marv's "little chat" with kevin. gore hounds are gonna cream themselves.
now the negatives. michael madsen is kinda wasted. after his work in Kill Bill, which is better than his Mr. Blonde, his work as Bob (hartigan's partner) is disappointing. sure, he has less to work with, but he just seems listless and bored (especially when acting alongside Willis). additionally, jessica alba's choice to keep her clothes on hurts the film rather than helps it. i'll admit, she's fine (acting-wise) as nancy, a lot better than i had thought and probably the best she's ever been in a movie, but when the rest of the female cast is so willing to be either naked or semi-nude (as is bruce willis), her refusal to do so stands out.
still, this is a movie to see, again and again, on its release date on april 1st. provided the MPAA doesn't cut it to shreds (and it might; the version we saw was unrated), this is the most faithful adaptation of a comic ever made. god bless frank miller, god bless robert rodriguez, and god bless the entire cast for getting behind this film.
if you choose to use this, call me Lloyd Dobler Kicks Ass