Sunday, April 3rd, 2005
The Big Fat Kill
So Sin City. The first thing that needs to be said, and everyone is saying it, is that it is absolutely true to the comic. Moreso than any other comic-to-film adaptation of recent years, which usually at best can say that they capture the spirit of the source material, Sin City can say it IS the source material, just brought to life onscreen. This will certainly appease the purists, who are usually the most vocal critics of any adaptation, but does it necessarily make for a good film? I say yes – but with a caveat.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that Sin City is genre fiction. It’s pulp. Film noir. Hard-boiled, gritty, violent, etc. It is definitely NOT campy. The women are femme fatales, the men either debased or in need of redemption. Sin City is not necessarily great literature, but it is great at what it is. To appreciate it, you have to be standing on the right side of the fourth wall – if you’re outside, you coud well think it’s depraved and hokey and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But if you’re on the inside, it’s a helluva ride. It’s almost a shame that the film is being hyped to the degree that it is, because it’s really not a film for everyone.
Many of the highly-stylized visuals are almost shot-for-shot recreations of the comics (Filmrot has drawn up some exhibits using footage from the trailers) and the use of black-and-white with splashes of strategically placed super-saturated colur, like the comics, is even more striking on screen. But everyone and their mother-in-law has gone on about the technical wonder of the film, so I’ll just say that it looks freakin’ amazing and leave it at that.
Story-wise, it draws on the original Sin City story (aka “The Hard Goodbye”), “The Big Fat Kill” and “That Yellow Bastard” as well as a short story I’ve not read for the prologue (and epilogue?). Much of the dialogue and narration is also taken verbatim from the source material – the device does work better in print, but if, as I’ve said, you buy in, you don’t really mind. Rather than keep the three stories completely discrete, the film takes a half-hearted attempt to combine them and linear-ize the intersecting storylines. It doesn’t really work. Cutting up “That Yellow Bastard” might make sense chronologically, but it doesn’t really help the story any and timeline consistency isn’t maintained throughout anyway.
The three stories are sequenced in declining quality – “The Hard Goodbye” is far and away the best of the three. Mickey Rourke is amazing as Marv and it has the most energy, action and humour. “The Big Fat Kill” is pretty good though without the backstory of “A Dame To Kill For”, the relationship between Clive Owen’s Dwight and Rosario Dawson’s Gail looks hokier than it is. You also don’t appreciate the full menace of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Manute. Ending with “That Yellow Bastard” makes the most sense, seeing as how it’s got the most star power with Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba, but it doesn’t quite click. Maybe it’s due to audience exhaustion from the first two segments or maybe it’s just not that strong, but the pacing seemed rushed and Willis’ Hartigan just didn’t connect for me. He seemed too much like Bruce Willis.
I just read most of the Sin City comics last weekend so I didn’t necessarily need to follow the narrative to know what was going to happen next, I could just sit back and enjoy the execution and finished product. And enjoy it I did – some of the violence did make me cringe, but that was really the point. Hard boiled, man. Hard boiled.
So my little MySpace recruiting drive yesterday was quite successful, thank you, though I apologize that I really have no idea who most of you people are. But that’s okay. I will also admit that it was sort of a little demographics experiment on my part – I was wondering who was actually reading my site. Answer? Dudes. Lots of dudes. Many with bands. That’s okay, I guess, but geez. Sausage fest. It’s like university all over again.
“Spring forward” my ass.
np – Mojave 3 / Excuses For Travelers