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Sin City

2005 film based on the dark and violent comic books by writer/artist Frank Miller.

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A gripping and violent cult classic

  • Mar 31, 2005
  • by
Pros: Great Visuals and action segments.

Cons: Paper thin plot and characters.

The Bottom Line: A unique and distinctive work that should delight fans of Tarantino and Rodriguez.

In a dazzling blend of muted color, violence, and eroticism Frank Millers graphic novel “Sin City” has burst upon the screen with a visual style that is as diverse as the star studded cast that drives it.

Set in the fictional Basin City, the film is a series of segments that weave in and around each other to tell various stories and side plots without a clear cut beginning and end as the conclusion of one segment often mirrors portions of the events in another.

While the film does not have a linear plot in the traditional sense, each segment is a snapshot of life in Basin City and how it is viewed by the various people that dwell within. It does not take a genius to see that the city is rife with all manner of unsavory characters from child molesters to cannibals. Basin City is also a place where people are not always the sum of their parts as a violent and disfigured thug named Marv (Mickey Rourke) can show humanity and compassion as he attempts to avenge those who were wronged. It is a place where a person with a dubious past and a new face named Dwight (Clive Owen), is town between the life he left behind and his desire to protect those who are in danger.

The film is chocked full of dialogue that is reminiscent of classic pulp novels and comics of the 40’s and 50’s where characters were often as two dimensional as the pages in which their exploits were chronicled. While this at first seems awkward and hokey it tends to grow on you as it is an accurate reflection of the locales and inhabitants that comprise the city.

While most of the film is shot in a black and white style, there are flashes of color that make a gripping contrast to the usually blank characters. Examples of which are seen in many of the films violent action sequences where blood and other gore are used for artistic effect. In one example, graphic shooting segments are left in a muted black and white allowing us to see the gore in a muted sense. The impact of the scene is not lost but it is rendered in an artistic and unique manner that is amazing to see. While you should be horrified at what you see, you find yourself captivated by the clever color and camera work that is used to render the scene. At other times, the crimson color of blood is used to emphasize a scene and illustrate and illuminate a character.

If this sounds confusing, it is due to the fact that to many “Sin City”, is a film that is a unique looking film, that has a pacing and style all its own, and does not play by the traditional rules for a film. While films such as “Heavy Metal” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” have brought graphic novels and visually unique pulp stories to the screen, it is the constant adherence to the source material, and directors Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantinos ability to blend their unique styles seamlessly that makes this film interesting.

The action of the film is very well choreographed and despite being very, very graphic in places, it nonetheless entertains and rarely seems gratuitous. The film also has a surprising amount of comedy as there were several moments that caused the audience at my press screening to erupt.

While it does not offer much in the way of plot or acting, the performances are appropriate to the characters and settings .The all-star cast does a great job in conveying the motivations of their characters as the audience is given just what the need to know about a character to make the segments work.

While the film may not appeal to a mass audience due to the unique look and structure of the film, fans of Tarantino and Rodriguez are likely to embrace this film which should likely result in further adventures in Basin City sometime in the near future.
4 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach



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More Sin City (2005 film) reviews
Quick Tip by . June 12, 2012
This is a movie that's had steadily-declining appeal for me.  I loved this film when I first saw it in September of 2005, but as I watched it more and more, I found myself liking it less and less.  Now I've seen it enough to where I really don't see many redeeming factors in it.      So many people have gushed over Rodriguez's "comic book" visual style to match the way Frank Miller's original comics were drawn, but I'm not impressed …
review by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
SO NOT in Las Vegas.
I just rewatched The Spirit not too long ago and for all it's goofy meandering, it's look was clearly borrowed from this movie and Frank Miller a noted comic legend who lately has had more misses then hits in his written works-was a part of BOTH movies.  Taking another look at this film reminded me how odd and frankly great the film was. The plot has a running theme of corruption and sinful people in all three of it's stories.  The first is about a hard headed street fighter …
Quick Tip by . June 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Look, anybody dumb enough to LIKE this thing is simply voting for style over substance. All it has is a unique directorial style which is black and white and regularly flashes color in and out. Once the novelty of the directorial style and comic book-like appearance wear off, all you've got is just another movie about criminals with hearts of gold going on quests of redemption. The only difference is that with the constant color flashing, this one can potentially induce seizures.
Quick Tip by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is a complicated rating. It is a 4 minus 3 rating. The first time through the stylized nature of the film is fantastic, but when I watched it a second time, it un-wowed me, but it's worth the first time through for anyone unless they don't like hard-boiled graphic novels.
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Probably one of the most accurate transitions from comic page to screen.
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2010
Seedy and sleazy comic noir about the bums, scum and filth in Sin City where just about everything can happen and does. Awesome if at times creepy fun.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Love the cinematography for this film, the black and white really does well for the storyline and comic feel.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Three tales of lowdown hitmen, cops, hookers and crazies in a ugly metropolis. Sort of like Pulp Ficition ironically enough with more flash, less pop culture and more monologing. Not bad but definitely not for all tastes.
review by . May 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Theatrical Poster
WARNING: This film contains graphic stylized violence including torture, as well as sexuality/nudity, coarse language, and disturbing themes.       Only a sick and twisted mind could conceive of the warped stories that are found in the graphic novel series Sin City. Frank Miller is just such a mind. His morbid fascinations with corrupt authority figures, hypocritical religions, sleazy yet strong-willed women, and violent anti-heroes are thrust into the spotlight in his work. …
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Amazing movie that has been in my top 10 fav movies for 5 years now. the plot, script, cinematography and style are awesome. Just waiting for Sin City 2!!!
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


Starring Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Elijah Wood, Clive Owen, Nick Stahl, Rutger Hauer, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson
Directed by Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Writer:  Frank Miller

Product Description
Sin city is infested with criminals crooked cops & sexy dames: some searching for vengeance some for redemption and others both. Studio: Buena Vista Home Video Release Date: 09/01/2006 Starring: Bruce Willis Mickey Rourke Run time: 126 minutes Rating: R Director: Frank Miller
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