a little east of reality

Thursday, August 25, 2005

aim careful, and look the devil in the eye

"Now that is one damn fine coat you're wearing."

Movie review:
If you took a classic Mickey Spillane novel and let it spend a few minutes in a blender with Dark City and then added just a touch of Jason, you'd just about be where I was Tuesday night - at the movies watching Sin City.

I want to say I enjoyed it, but I can't help but feel that 'enjoyed' is the wrong word. It would be kind of like saying you enjoyed watching an autopsy. It was very interesting, with mind-blowing visual content and creativity, but there was some stuff in there that was so screwed up I couldn't help but recoil a little from it. I think if it had been more real and less comic book, I would have felt more uncomfortable, but the very contrived drama of film noir/pulp added to the look and feel of the graphic novel saved it from crossing that line from 'disturbing' into 'freaking me right out'.


I'm a sucker for a hero story, so of the three main stories ~ "The Hard Goodbye"(Marv & Goldie) "The Big Fat Kill" (Dwight & 'the girls') and "That Yellow Bastard" (Hartigan & Nancy) ~ I liked Hartigan the best. Bruce Willis wasn't really old enough for the part (Hartigan is pushing 60 at the beginning of the 8-year story), but he still played it beautifully.

Having said that, my favourite thing about the movie as a whole is actually something not in the Hartigan story. Sin City is not a place for heroes. Sure, there’s a little bit of dialogue about honest cops, but Hartigan’s the only one we ever get to see in any detail. For the most part, the 'heroes' in Sin City are flawed or even ‘bad’ people who nevertheless have a streak of justice that won’t be ignored. Dwight is a murderer who’s changed his face to escape his crime. Marv has a stream of violence in his past and it’s still his way of dealing. Yet they both risk their lives to protect (or avenge) a woman’s life.

You see this all through the movie - that what we do in life doesn't wholly define what we are. In Sin City there are a myriad of people doing corrupt, illegal or warped things. Some people would say that every one of them is an evil person. But it really isn't hard to see that that's not the case. Some of them are evil to the core and other people are their playthings and stepping stones. Others are just trying to survive in a harsh world. And still others are deeply flawed but have redeeming qualities that seperate them from the truly evil. I prefer the story of a flawed hero - emotional baggage, skeletons in the closet, these things make a character's heroism much more than just the natural actions of a 'hero type'. It's part of why I enjoyed Constantine so much.

Sin City - not for the squeamish. 31/2 stars. (5 if you're a fan of the graphic novel, because it is perfectly represented and you'll likely love it.)

"Deadly little Miho. She won't let you feel a thing...unless she wants you to."