Cinema Signal:

Original Sins
Hellblazer, Book 1
by Jamie Delano

. "Sin City"

Comic book readers will know exactly how to understand this movie. To the extent that it's an acquired taste or, rather, a conditioned one, this film was made for them... with less compromise than almost any movie extracted from a medium that is typically a hotbed of seething mayhem and spectacular payback.

Director Robert Rodriguez, with his equally spectacular command of advanced technical methodology, has found a way to transcribe creator Frank Miller's world: drawings converted into a visual suggestion of its strip origins; action from the =SPLAT= =pow!= =SOCKO!!= idiom to soundtrack detonations; and, most revolutionary, characters and story line that are like totally rewarding in a world of teenage thrill atmospherics.

This is the habitat for the hero demolishing the sleaze in a stylish exaggeration where the satisfaction comes from action gratification. One should expect an unrestricted outpouring of sado-masochism like this to be more akin to the toilet and sex jokes of "Animal House" and the execrable "South Park" than anything that should be passed through a filter of social consciousness. This is not personal injury. The physical decimation here occupies the same space in the fantasy realm as it does on the pages of the comics, which for good reason are sometimes referred to as "joke books." Parents, keep that idea in mind while watching.

In this domain, heroes and villains are hard to kill. However mashed, slashed and bullet-ridden, the unwritten code behind the comic invention seems to be to let the sucker survive almost any assault. These guys are drilled so full of holes they no longer qualify for Lean Cuisine.

The thing to concentrate on is the hero building, the confidence of invulnerability, the perfection of the mindset. These are human forms that are everything we are not--not an invalid use of fantasy. If you're not a comic book reader, fear of influence on impressionable minds should be the least of your worries. Prepare your own mind to accept extreme super violence as kid's play, nothing more. This is more about stylistic achievement than physical shredding. If you're repelled, you're just not getting the creative intention.

Own it today! (Click on item link)
The Blu-ray Edition DVD
  • Disc One - Restored Theatrical Version
  • Commentary with Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
  • Commentary with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
  • Audio Track Featuring a recording of the Austin audience reaction
  • Disc Two - Recut, Extended, Unrated Version - Blu-ray Exclusive
  • Rodriguez Special Feature
    - 15-Minute Film School
    - All Green-Screen Version
    - The Long Take
    - Sin City - Live in Concert
    - 10-Minute Cooking School
  • How It Went Down: Convincing Frank Miller to make the film
  • Special Guest Director: Quentin Taratino
  • A Hard Top with a Decent Engine: The Cars of Sin City
  • Booze, Broads and Guns: The Props of Sin City
  • Making the Monsters: Special Effects Make-up
  • Trench Coats and Fish Nets: The Costumes of Sin City
  • Teaser and Theatrical Trailer
    The Soundtrack
    Composers Robert Rodriguez, John Debney, Graeme Revell & Silvestre Revueltas
  • In this domain, as well, the women are gorgeous, wily and a match for any man. The men are brawny, susceptible to a soft touch, and prone to sacrifice themselves for things like honor. Accordingly, co-directors Rodriguez and Miller have collected a cast full of power and pulchritude. It's a good thing they're not trying to one-up each other, though one would be hard put to pick a single queen of the hill from the likes of Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Jaime King (twins Goldie and Wendy), Brittany Murphy (Shellie), Devon Aoki (deadly Miho), and luscious Carla Gugino (Lucille).

    Likewise for the men, with players like Bruce Willis (flint-edged cop Hartigan), indomitable Mickey Rourke (nasty, dedicated powerhouse Marv, a mind and meat blowing portrayal), steely Clive Owen (Dwight), Nick Stahl (Rourke Jr. and disgustingly super-evil Yellow Bastard), Powers Boothe (Senator Rourk), Rutger Hauer (Cardinal Roark -- is the name similarity for ironic reason?), Elijah Wood (Kevin), Benicio Del Toro (Jackie Boy) and Michael Clarke Duncan (Manute). Archetypes, all.

    If there's no other reason to see "Sin City," it would be for its groundbreaking visual creativity. The selective application of color on a black and white image is a dazzlingly artistic method to render a science fictional noir epic derived from a pen and ink medium. The choices accent story and character elements (blood is usually white) and is worthy of study. You can see the strip even while being awed by the film.

    This is a fantasy that never pretends to be anything else. Like it or not, and for better or worse, the universe of film and the universe of comic strips just nudged up against each other and share the gravity field.

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                                          ~~  Jules Brenner  

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