Film Review: Sin City (2005)

Also known as: Frank Miller’s Sin City
Release Date: March 28th, 2005 (Mann National Theater premiere)
Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Based on: Sin City by Frank Miller
Music by: John Debney, Graeme Revell, Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, Nick Offerman, Marley Shelton, Nick Stahl, Tommy Flanagan, Devon Aoki, Rick Gomez, Frank Miller (cameo), Robert Rodriguez (cameo)

Troublemaker Studios, Dimension Films, Miramax, 124 Minutes, 147 Minutes (unrated recut)

Review:

“Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him. They woulda tossed him girls like Nancy back then.” – Dwight

When Sin City came out, it was a bit of a phenomenon. Well, at least with fans of comic books and especially those who love the work of Frank Miller.

I haven’t watched this in a really long time and I wanted to revisit it after spending a lot of time delving into classic film-noir, which this picture takes some major visual cues from. Well, the original comic this was based on used a lot of noir visual flair, so it was only natural that this film adaptation followed suit.

As an overall cohesive story, the film doesn’t work that well. I get that it is a linked anthology with overlapping characters but it feels like it is just running all over the place. Frankly, this would work better as a television show where all of these characters could be better developed and jumping around with the narrative would just seem more organic.

This is still a cool movie with cool characters but sometimes they feel more like caricatures of pulp comic and noir archetypes. There isn’t really any time to get to know anyone beyond what’s on the immediate surface. Nancy and Hartigan are the only characters with any sort of meaningful backstory and even then, it is pretty skeletal and doesn’t have the meat it needs to really connect in an emotional way.

The film is highly stylized and while it looks cool, it almost works against it, as the grit and violence almost becomes too comic book-y. But this is supposed to be the comic stories coming to life and it represents that with its visual style. And I like the visual style but this is still a live action motion picture and it sort of forgets that.

I’m not saying it can’t have immense and incredible style but it needs to have a better balance between what would exist on a black and white comic book page and what works best for the medium of film. Being that this is the first film to sort of use this visual technique, I think people looked past its faults. I also think that once it was done here, the initial surprise and awe was gone, which is why no one cared much when the sequel came out and why the visual flare didn’t work to hide the faults of Frank Miller’s very similar film, The Spirit.

Additionally, sometimes the comic book elements seem very heavy handed and forced. The scene where Marv escapes the SWAT team may work in the comics but it felt bizarre and goofy in the movie. It would have been more effective if it was toned down and reworked, as opposed to Miller and Rodriguez trying to copy the comic panel by panel. This never works well, which was also why 2009’s The Watchmen had a lot of problems. Personally, I’d rather just stick to the comics if the filmmakers want to just recreate everything panel to shot.

Another problem with directly adapting comics is that the dialogue that works in one medium sometimes sounds terrible in another. Some lines when delivered on screen were cringe worthy moments. Still, I mostly liked everyone’s performance in this despite the sometimes questionable direction and script.

Sin City didn’t blow my mind like it did when I first saw it thirteen years ago. That’s fine. It is still pretty damn good and enjoyable but at first glance, way back in the day, I probably would have given this a nine out of ten rating. But at its core, it just isn’t that good of a film, even if it caused me to fanboy out in 2005.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Spirit.

Comic Review: Fight Club 2

Published: June 28th, 2016
Written by: Chuck Palahniuk
Art by: Cameron Stewart, David Mack
Based on: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Dark Horse, 256 Pages

Review:

About two decades after releasing Fight Club and then seeing it made into a film that most consider to be a classic, Chuck Palahniuk finally followed his most famous tale up with a sequel. However, instead of writing another book or working up a screenplay for a film, Palahniuk teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to make a ten issue comic book series.

The result is something really weird and I don’t mean that in a good way. Being that this is Palahniuk’s story, it is how he sees the future lives of these characters. But ultimately, Tyler Durden is just some powerful mystical being that possesses people and that’s not even the weirdest part.

What this story does, is it takes everything you thought that the original book and film were about and turns it on its head in favor of some insane random ass shit that almost feels like a big “fuck you” by the author, who may have just been annoyed by people asking for a follow up.

I don’t really know what the hell I just read. It started out pretty interesting but quickly unraveled into incomprehensible shit. And this is coming from a guy that loved the first half dozen or so Chuck Palahniuk novels. I know how shocking and surprising he can be but this is some next level batshit fuckery.

The art was good and I really wanted to enjoy this but it sort of just shits on Fight Club. That being said, I can’t really accept it and it has some bullshit non-ending that makes the whole damn thing pointless. But I’m glad I read this in one sitting over an hour and a half than issue by issue, over ten months. Had I spent that much time on it, I would have been pissed off. Right now, I’m just baffled and irritated.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: Absolutely nothing.

 

Book Review: ‘Frankenstein: The Shadow of Frankenstein’ by Stefan Petrucha

*written in 2014.

I like reading books that are authors takes on sequels of famous stories, especially when it has to do with monsters like Frankenstein’s big undead creation.

At some point, Dark Horse, who are known as a major comic book publisher, acquired the publishing license for the Universal Monsters franchise. Instead of doing comic books, they made literary sequels to the Universal Monsters films. This one had a pretty awesome premise.

This book takes place after the classic film Bride of Frankenstein and it ignores all the other sequels after that film and branches off in its own direction. So essentially, this is a sequel to just the two James Whale Frankenstein films.

The premise sees Frankenstein’s monster, the Boris Karloff version, arrive in London. While there, he goes toe-to-toe with Jack the Ripper. I was pretty much sold when I read the description on the back of the book. And who wouldn’t be?

The book was ambitious and started with a lot working for it but in the end it fell kind of flat and didn’t really seem to hit the mark that it needed to. I did enjoy it overall and it is a quick and easy read but it just didn’t feel as authentic as I had hoped and just didn’t capture the vibe and magic of the James Whale films.

Regardless, I still like the idea of it and it wasn’t poor execution, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. It also felt like a lot of the book was filler or the author playing it a bit too safe with the property and not putting enough of himself into it.

The author, Stefan Petrucha is obviously a fan of the James Whale films but I don’t feel like he was able to make the tribute he could have, whether due to his respect for the source material or because the publisher had a tight leash on him. This is a problem that also appears in the other Universal Monsters books from Dark Horse: great and interesting ideas that are snuffed out early in what feels like an attempt to bring something original to these characters but too timid to really explore those ideas.

20 Comic Book Properties That Haven’t Gone Live-Action Yet

*written in 2015.

There is a rumor that Netflix is now developing a Moon Knight series in addition to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It hasn’t been officially announced, so I included Moon Knight on this list. It could just be a rumor but I really hope it isn’t. Because I’m now really looking forward to it and Iron Fist.

But this maybe news got me to thinking about what other comic book properties still haven’t gotten the live-action treatment yet.

These properties are my top twenty comic book franchises (or characters) that I would like to see come to life in live-action form.

1. Umbrella Academy
2. Hawaiian Dick
3. Hack/Slash
4. Moon Knight
5. X-Factor
6. Dr. Fate
7. Nightwing
8. Turok
9. Bloodshot
10. Grendel
11. The Spectre
12. Morbius
13. Thunderbolts
14. The Maxx
15. Invincible
16. The Savage Dragon
17. Sleepwalker
18. Simon Dark
19. X-O Manowar
20. Doom Patrol