When I was little, I had two comic books. The first was a member of the Care Bears series; the other, an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in which Sabrina meets Cleopatra, who then tries to steal her boyfriend Harvey. Aside from these two examples, and sporadic viewings of the Nickelodeon show Kablaam! I have no knowledge or real interest in comic books. The new movie, Sin City, however, is what I imagine living in a comic book would be like.
Sin City, based upon the graphic novel by Frank Miller, claims that if you “Walk down the right back alley in Sin City, you can find anything.” By anything, the writers mean anything vile or violent. The movie breaks down into three main plots. In the first, Bruce Willis plays a retiring police officer, who saves a little girl from a child molester/serial killer, and then, gets framed for committing the crime which did not even occur. In a second plot, a paroled murderer with a mangled mug sets out to avenge the death of a beautiful woman who treated him to the best night of his life. The only catch, he woke up next to her dead body and is framed for her murder. His hunt leads him to Elijah Wood’s character who is too creepy and cannibalistic for words. The final plot involves a war between the association of prostitutes who rule their neighborhood and the police officers that want to take over after one of their own is mistakenly killed.
The movie also stars Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Brittney Murphey, and Alexis Bledel in a variety of roles. All perform well. This is a successful ensemble cast. No one sticks out or rises above. All are equally good and the result is fantastic.
Despite all of the violence and, well, sin, the movie commands a style that enchants the audience. Even I, who has been going to the movies every other week for two years, was entertained for the entire two hours.
The visuals are stunning, by far the best part of the movie. The movie is a pseudo-black-and-white color, more vibrant than a truly black and white film. Spot color (usually red, sometimes yellow. Blue in Alexis Bledel’s eyes) is used to accentuate and is surprisingly not distracting. Blood is white instead of red, an interesting touch that does not detract from the red the art directors do use. Crosses are visible throughout each scene. The English major in me cannot wait for this movie to come out on DVD so that I can pause, rewind, and analyze all the visual symbols and dimensions in this movie.
Sin City is an interesting, entertaining, and truly unique movie unlike anything audiences have ever seen. (Quentin Tarantino guest directs, enough said.) It’s early yet, but look for this film up for an Art Direction Oscar next year. In the meantime, pardon me for saying that Sin City is sinfully good.