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Buy the book Sin City

(Dir: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino)

Reviewed by: American SyCo - SimplyScripts Lead Film/DVD Reviewer

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Director Robert Rodriguez has finally hit his stride in both a directoral sense and a story-driven sense. While I've certainly always enjoyed his films (my favorite being, of course, "From Dusk 'til Dawn"), there was something usually missing. They were always really, really cool to look at, but (with the exception of "Dawn"), the story seemed to always be lacking. With Frank Miller's graphic novel "Sin City," the director has finally come full circle.

Cut into three sort of interwining storylines (technically four) "Sin City" takes place in the corrupt town to end all corrupt towns. There are no heroes in Sin City, only villians. And some villians just happen to be a bit more heroic than others... but they're still pretty much villians. The stories are as follows: "That Yellow Bastard," "The Hard Goodbye," and "The Big Fat Kill" (with a few references, through Josh Hartnett's character, to "The Customer Is Always Right" and "Babe Wore Red"). The three main stories can actually be summed up into different sub-genres: "Bastard" is straight up pulp, "Fat Kill" is classic film noir, and "Goodbye" is the hero story.

If it is not obvious yet, I am quite a fan of Miller's original work. I was excited to find out that included with the film would be "Yellow Bastard" and "The Hard Goodbye," as they are both my favorite of the "Sin City" stories. And while "Bastard" is my favorite book, it's "The Hard Goodbye" that is worth the nine dollars alone. Featuring Mickey Rourke as the ultimate anti-hero badass Marv, "Goodbye" is not only the most funny and cool of the series, but also the most touching... despite the cannibalism (courtesy of Elijah Wood whom plays the extreme opposite of Frodo), prostitutes, decapitations, and scenes of torture.

In "Yellow Bastard," Bruce Willis plays Detective Hartigan, one of Sin City's last honest cops. Mere hours away from retiring, the good cop decides to clear up some loose ends by bringing an end to the mayor's evil son, Junior (Nick Stahl), who happens to be a murderer and a pedophile. Of course, it is only a minor victory as even though Junior is stopped, Hartigan takes the blame and to save the life of Junior's would-be last victim, 11 year-old Nancy Callahan, the detective goes to jail for crimes he had nothing to do with. Eight years later, and Nancy is now the very hot Jessica Alba... and Hartigan, now released from prison, is duped into leading Junior (who, through extensive reconstructing surgery, is alive but also very ugly and very yellow) right to Callahan. A very gory and over-the-top show off ends this one.

Finally, with "The Big Fat Kill," Clive Owen's Dwight character inadvertantly helps kill a cop, Officer Jack Rafferty, played by Benicio Del Toro. Of course, Rafferty isn't one of the good villians... he's actually a very bad one. Still, should the city learn of his murder by the hands of Dwight and the "Old Town Girls" (read: prostitutes), things will go horribly awry for all involved. While not my favorite of the presented stories, "Kill" still contains enough gore and ninja assassins to keep anyone with a pulse entertained. Not to mention a finale that contains a loyal army of prostitutes (twelve bucks to anyone who catches that reference).

All in all, "Sin City" is a good ride, though there are a few gripes. For one, Brittany Murphy decided to really cheese her role up. And while it is understandable why she might do so, some of her lines are almost painfully over-the-top. Also, like "Sky Captain," this was filmed completely in front of green screens, which lends a bit of a out-of-this-world feel. Sometimes, this really works for the film. Other times, like when a character is opening a door that does not really exist, it looks a bit too out of place.

It should be made abundantly clear that this is not a movie for everyone. It's a guy flick through and through. So, I present a final score of ***1/2 stars. But, if you're not a fan of the comics, you may want to shave the half a star off. If you are a super fan, though, you may want to add half a star... plus 300 more.

***1/2 out of ****

Copyright American SyCo 2005

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