Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Greatest Movies That Made Going to the Movies Suck # 19- Sin City
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.