Comic books are some of the hardest source material to make movies out of.  Superhero movies have to please both kids and adults and rarely treat the subject matter with the seriousness it deserves.  Just look at the miserable series of Batman films if you need any evidence.  The X-Men and Spider-Man films were well made enough, but as fantastic and thrilling as they may be, even they took tremendous liberties with the characters as they were originally portrayed in the classic Marvel Comics.  Invariably if you make a film about any comic book, there's going to be 1 faction of fan-boys that are overjoyed to see it, and another faction that's pissed off at the studio for fucking up their favorite character.

Conscientious of this, Robert Rodriguez decided that instead of adapting Frank Miller's cult classic Sin City comic book series into a film, he'd literally translate it.  Using the comic as a story board and bringing the book's creator on board as a co-director, In what amounts to a virtual shot for shot remake of the hard-boiled black and white crime saga.  This will make fans of the comic book series go Ga-Ga seeing every last panel of the book brought to life with painstaking detail.  But how will the average movie-goer respond, that doesn't know Sin City from Betty and Veronica?  I think they'll be blown away as well.

an example of a panel from Frank Miller's original Sin City comic book compared to a frame from the actual film

The stories are taken right out of a universe where characters from a Mickey Spillane novel are allowed to run around unchained and uncensored.  Split into 3 brutal stories, Sin City is relentless from beginning to end.  The beginning and end piece is called "That Yellow Bastard" and features Bruce Willis as the stereotype grizzled detective with only a few more days on the job before he retires.  He's tracked a child killer to some abandoned docks, who just happens to be the son of a powerful senator.  In the melee he saves the 11 year-old girl, little Nancy Callahan, but ends up getting framed for the crime, and the murders of several other children, and ends up spending 8 years in prison as a result.  On his last day, he gets a grim message that Nancy's in trouble.  And when he finds her working as a stripper in a saloon, he's surprised to see that in those 8 years "skinny little
Nancy Callahan great up, she filled out..."

Jessica Alba is insanely gorgeous as Nancy Callahan, a stripper with a troubled past

...and boy does she ever!  Jessica Alba is monstrously gorgeous as she slinks around onstage in a cowboy outfit, lasso twirling, and her hair blowing around like wispy little snakes.  It's ironic that the only character that was naked in the comic book (remember, this comic was aimed at adults) but not in the film is the stripper character.  Apparently Alba has a no-nudity clause that Rodriguez was willing to work around, but it's only a trivial departure from the comic, and frankly she looks so amazing, anyone expecting otherwise would hardly think twice about it.  Of course, things get out of hand when a certain cretin from the past returns to make things hard for the couple.

 Mickey Rourke as "Marv", the ugly tough-as-nails bastard cop who is hell-bent on finding the killer of his hooker girlfriend

The second (and best) story, is the original Sin City tale featuring Mickey Rourke as Marv, the ugliest, toughest, and most sadistic bad-ass cop that's ever been portrayed in film or comic books.  Marv spends the night with a  hooker named Goldie who saw past his monstrous exterior and gave him the only affection he's experienced in a long time.  When he wakes up, he sees that she's been murdered, and instantly framed for the crime.  A ton of cops immediately shoot at him with a rainstorm of bullets, and he goes in to hiding.  Beating up a collection of underworld hoods to find out who killed his one and only love, he stumbles across the killer, an insane sweater wearing cannibal with shiny glasses, ninja-like fighting skills, and a trophy room full of mounted prostitute heads as trophies.  The freak is played by Elijah Wood in an eerie performance extremely far removed from his turn as Frodo from The Lord of the Rings saga.

Rourke has always been one of my favorite character actors, and I haven't enjoyed him this much in a role since he brought Charles Bukowski's Henry Chinaski to life in Barfly.  He's a scary bastard that won't hesitate to snap arms in half and smash heads into brick walls to get the information he needs.  HIGHLIGHT THIS AREA FOR A SPOILER!!! It's no surprise that he dies at the end of his tale, but his death scene is one of the coolest tough guy demises of all time. END OF SPOILER!!!

The third story, "The Big Fat Kill" is probably the weakest of the three.  It suffers from some pacing problems that make the otherwise brisk-paced film drag a bit, but fortunately has enough insane action and violence to pick things up before it gets too bad.  Clive Owens is just "OK" as Dwight, a guy who teams up with an army of killer hookers who have to cover up a cop-killing to keep the peace.

Sin City takes a lot of risks, and for the most part, it pays off with great results.  It's a beautiful comic book movie that doesn't rely on your knowledge or enjoyment of the original comic to be blown away.  The stark black and white, with sparse poetic use of color is fantastic.  Robert Rodriguez has taken Frank Miller's unique vision and translated it perfectly for the big screen.  It's a hyper-violent entertaining masterpiece that I highly recommend.

My buddy John at, who also loved Sin City, is giving away a special Electric Chair Marv and a sin City lunchbox full of Ho-Hos to celebrate the release of this film.  CLICK HERE to enter.

-Robert Berry



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