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Sin City

Film Four Stars

I'd never read any of the graphic novels on which this movie has been based, and I didn't even know anything about the story before hearing about the production, and right from the first trailer it had me. The names, the style, it all looked superb, so I was excited to finally see it at the cinema.

As soon as it opened I was impressed. The visuals and style were superb, and Bruce Willis seemed to be acting his socks off for this role, he suited it so well. However with the good bits came the opening poor performance from Michael Madsen, he hit the audience with a handful of cheese and struggled lines.

It could have been intentional, and the attempt at that old Film Noir style had either resulted in some cheesy performances from those that couldn't produce it effectively, or perhaps it was unintentional. This is something that ran through a couple of the main characters for me. Clive Owen and Madsen were the main problems, in Owen I felt like I was watching Horatio Nelson in an episode of CSI: Miami, say cheesy line and turn off camera while posing, wait for fade.

I was also surprised by Benecio Del Toro, he was passable, but he just didn't hit the mark with his usual performance. Those who without a doubt did steal the show were Willis, Elijah Wood and Mickey Rourke.

Rourke, like Willis, provided a wonderful performance and fitted so well into this genre.They both really portrayed the gritty, hard and embittered characters perfectly and very believeably. Those sections of the movie were by far the better and more enjoyable than the others. Wood was a different matter, I've heard many people say he was really good, and he is, he's really effective and creepy, yet how much of that is acting and how much is the style giving that impression? Let's not forget that he ran, jumped and stared, oh and climbed down a stairway.

Something that distracted me from the movie and pulled me out a few times were the connections made between the stories themselves. Some had connections, and others didn't, and whenever I saw one I found myself trying to resolve them and make some form of conclusion from it. Unfortunately there was none, it was just to give some time and location reference, and to be honest neither was needed. For me though, I did find I was pulled out of the story each time, and struggled to think of them as nothing.

The movie is violent, but gets away with a lot because of the style and lack of colour at key moments, and it's this style that makes for a huge portion of what the movie is. It leads me to the question of how successful the follow-up will be, and now that the style is no longer a gimmick, if it will continue to work as a driving factor for the movie. This is something that the Matrix encountered during it's series, and it seriously flagged on the second movie.

There are some great moments, and superb performances from Rourke and Willis. The style that has been captured on screen is nothing short of stunning and quite unique, this has definitely been a huge accomplishment in the adaptation of comics to screen - whoever ends up making The Watchmen please take note - as they've been ever so faithful to the original material. However some truly bad acting and a slightly disjointed feel clouded the movie for me, and it really is the style and the two excellent actors that has kept the score so high.

Update: 17/09/2006
I just watched this film again on DVD, not the full featured edition, just the straight rental one, and I was surprised once again.

I truly thought that seeing it a second time the innovation angle would be dead and there would be a great feeling of style over substance. I was wrong. It was true that the wide eyed feeling I had at the style originally was gone, but what happened on the second viewing was that the story came through even stronger and I noticed things I hadn't before. I would definitely say I enjoyed it just as much, but for slightly different reasons.

Amazingly even Owen's performance didn't feel as cheesy this second time round, although there were most defintely cheesy moments to be had from some of his scenes.

What I did feel was a slight disappointment in that some of the stories felt as though they weren't explored enough and missed out on some of their potential. However the story is still incredibly strong and watchable. Rourke was superb and walked away with the film, with Toro and Willis pulling good second places.

Still an excellent film, and this proves it might be worthy of a special edition DVD purchase.

IMDB UK movie details.



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