Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greatest Movies That Made Going to the Movies Suck # 19- Sin City

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Sin City is an anachronism of sorts; reviving an old genre in order to create an entirely new one. In 2005, when Sin City was released it brought back into fruition the classic characters of film noir. These were burnt out cops who talked of bum tickers and sleazebag criminals running wild in the streets, all cloaked in a dreary black and white. And in the wake of it all the graphic novel film was born. By using the stills from Frank Miller’s Sin City books, director Robert Rodriquez managed to not only recreate Miller’s comic book world perfectly, but he also made a vastly entertaining film and one where, if any frame were to be isolated as a still image, it could be hung on the wall on any art gallery. The film oozed of freshness and watching, one gets the feeling of something incredible being born. Of course the film’s success had several after effects. Having seen that A) graphic novels could be a major commodity and B) R-rated films packed with sex and violence could still make big money at the box office, studios looked to cash in. All of a sudden every counter cultural, underground graphic novel seemed like it could be a goldmine, Miller became the big thing to adapt, and post-modern film noir was in vogue. The first slew of film noir’s that were born in Sin City’s wake were hit and miss. Lucky Number Slevin, which featured two of Sin City’s stars, fizzled while Brick took the genre into newer regions still and offered an intriguing finished product. Then came the next Millar adaptation: Zack Snyder’s inexplicably popular 300, which, like Sin City, was filmed entirely in front of a green screen, but unlike its predecessor was big, loud, violent, dumb and hollow. Where Sin City had used its cinematic style to create a certain mood around its characters, 300 was all flash and no center. Sure it was nice to look at, but the story was nonexistent, the dialogue moronic and the flight scenes endless and tedious. 300 had all the moves, but none of the heart. And then Miller himself stepped behind the camera to adapt another famous graphic novel, The Spirit, and delivered a travesty. The film was dumb, heartless and had no sense of tone whatsoever. Miller had taken everything that failed about 300 and amplified it. The film was all surface style and veered wildly from intense film noir elements to scenes so silly and pointless that they barely rise to the status of Saturday morning cartoon. Samuel L. Jackson was forced into one of the most embarrassing roles of his career and the lead was a lifeless slouch. The Spirit was a chore just to watch and eventually flopped hard at the box office. There have been other graphic novel adaptation since (Snyder redeemed himself as an artist with his take on Watchmen), but none of them have quite matched the look and spirit that made Sin City so valuable in the first place. No longer, in its wake, are graphic novel adaptations something to anticipate as they have become a dime a dozen these days and have lost most of their heart, trading in the look and feel of the adaptation for an action movie aesthetic. It will be interesting to see if even Rodriquez’s planned sequels will even be able to recapture some of that original magic. That is, if they ever get made.


  1. Oh,man...I wouldn't be surprised if THE SPIRIT single-handedly killed any hope of SIN CITY getting made.

    It'll be interesting to see how RED (adapted from the Warren Ellis grpahic novel and starring Willis) helps or hinders the non-superhero comic movie. Nice review!

  2. Well said (though I will argue that The Spirit, while nowhere near a good film, has its moments). I just really want to see was Rodriguez does with the sequel that he's totally gonna make.

  3. I agree with your take on every film here with the possible exception of Sin City itself. I like but do not love Sin City. Then again, that may be personal preference. I think I'm in the minority on that one. I just felt that any scene that did not feature Mickey Rourke was kind of a waste.

    Should I watch The Spirit even for a laugh? Is it so bad it's good?

  4. I agree that Rourke is the best thing in Sin City but come on, Del Toro? Bruce Willis? Rosario Dawsen? Even Josh Hartnet gets the tone right.

    And no, The Spirit isn't even good for a laugh. It's just pathetic and annonying through and through.

  5. Actually, the thing I liked next best in Sin City was Elijah Wood's weird role. That part made me feel gross, in a good way.

  6. "Should I watch The Spirit even for a laugh? Is it so bad it's good?"

    No, it's worse.

    OTOH, if you like the thought of someone pissing all over the grave of someone he claimed was an inspiration, mentor and personal friend, you might enjoy it.