Frank, (I’ve spoken with/interviewed him on a number of occasions, and even actually met him on at least once, so I can call him Frank) had a vision that was Sin City. A creator-owned comicbook were he could essentially do anything he wanted to do. And he did just that. His comics were full of graphic violence, nudity, and other ”dangerous” images and ideas. Miller was on a roll, and there was no one to stop him (not that anyone really could have).
Not that anyone really wanted to stop him. From his unique vantage point, he was quickly redefining what comics were all about. But this posting isn’t really about Miller, as much as it is about how his well comics were translated to the screen. And that can be told in one word. Faithfully.
Director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids) treated Frank’s comics as his official storyboard thus, the Sin City you see on the big screen is what readers of the comicbook Sin City saw when they read the comics. You just can’t get any more faithful than that. (To my knowledge the only alteration between the two, is that Jessica Alba, who played Nancy onscreen (see poster at the top of this post), refused to do any nudity, whereas there were scenes in the comic when she was nude or partially nude).
As a work of art, Sin City is flawless. Played out in stark black and white with occasional splashes of color. We truly get the feel for the vileness and corruption of this dark, dank city. Politicians are corrupt, cops are corrupt, the clergy is corrupt, criminals are corrupt, the average citizen is corrupt (OK, frank has some issues, but he’s working them out brilliantly, don’tcha think?). People with actual virtue include hookers, prostitutes, (some) cops, and the dregs of society — (again, some) criminals. The world of Sin City is truly turned upside down (and again, yes, Miller has definite issues with the government, organized religion, and all sorts of things, but that’s an entirely different Blog).
Does the movie have flaws? Sure it does:
• Hartigan (Bruce Willis simply doesn’t look the 60+ years of age that his character is sup[posed to be) gets shot multiple times and doesn’t die.
• Prostitutes walk around dressed up like refugees from a badly exaggerated B&D show gone uber-Hollywood and tote better ordnance than Navy SEALs under the Regan administration.
I could go on, but why bother, I could likewise poke similar plot/consistency holes in just about every film ever made, but that simply ruins the fun of going to the movies in the first place. (It is called “Suspension of Belief”, and this is my blog, so sit back and keep reading, your comments can be posted at the end). This is Mickey Spillane’s hardboiled detective, Mike Hammer, on Anabolic Steroids, gone road rage. It’s Film Noir for the 21st Century, shot completely against a green screen with few, if any props, and the cityscape painted in around them in postproduction. Speaking strictly from a technological point of view, the film is a modern-day masterpiece, but it isn’t just style over substance (as was the case with the equally visually stunning, but essentially storyless, eye-candy Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) this film has a coherent, cohesive plot, and is thoroughly character driven with an “A” list of top-flight talent that aren’t satisfied with simply phoning it in.
Even if you don’t like (or have never seen) the comics in question, if you are a film buff, you’ll want to go see this flick. For, as the man behind it all, (Miller) did with comics, this film will revolutionize the way films will be made from now on.