Cool, stylish, almost perfectly cast, and with many frames that look ripped straight from the pages of Frank Miller's original work, it's hard not to consider Sin City as one of the best comic-book movies of all time.
Director Robert Rodriguez, helped by Quentin Tarantino, also wrote the screenplay, and sets out from the very beginning to immerse viewers in a stark, black and white world of anti-heroes and villains. There are splashes of colour here and there, depicting bloodshed, strong feelings, or even just a nice pair of eyes. One other bonus, this was one of the last few films made to star Bruce Willis before he decided to sleepwalk into every paycheck.
There are little extra bits interspersed throughout, but the move iss mainly made up of three tales. In one, Bruce Willis plays an old cop who wants to get his man (Nick Stahl) at any cost. His perp is a sicko, but he's a sicko with a rich, influential father (Powers Boothe). In the second tale we get to meet Marv (Mickey Rourke), a big, brute of a man moves to action when he's set up for a murder he didn't commit. The murder of a woman that he felt great affection for. Clive Owen clashes with Benicio Del Toro in the third tale, leading to a situation that could cause a lot of trouble for the deadly working girls of Sin City. And then it's back to that dogged cop, many years later but no less determined.
As well as those mentioned, Sin City also features Josh Hartnett, Jaime King, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rutger Hauer, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Brittany Murphy, Jessica Alba, Carla Gugino, Alexis Bledel, Michael Madsen, Devon Aoki, and many more. It's certainly a star-studded cast but, more than that, everyone feels perfect for the role given to them.
Featuring his usual cool soundtrack accompanying the visuals, this manages to feel both like a great Frank Miller film and also a great Rodriguez joint. It's almost a perfect marriage of material and director.
Unfortunately, it doesn't hold up quite as well on repeat viewings. It's still very enjoyable, and consistently gorgeous to look at (seriously, freeze frame it at almost any moment and you get a gorgeous comic panel), but the pacing could have been tightened up slightly to bring the movie in under two hours, with the Owen/Del Toro section of the movie dragging things down badly.
For those who like their movies steeped in traditional aspects of cinema, this is a love or hate film. Shot almost entirely on green screen, with only a few real sets utilised, it's a unique experience, but one that absolutely works, in my opinion, due to the nature of the material.
If you want nuance and realism then feel free to reach for a thousand other movies before this one. But if you want something cool, visually stunning, and with moments of painful ultra-violence, then this might just be the ticket.
And UK folks, don't forget to check out a double-bill at the cinema this weekend, while a lot of venues are showing this and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Such tickets can be found at sites like this one - http://www.picturehouses.co.uk/cinema/Cameo_Picturehouse/News/item/Sin_City_Sin_City_A_Dame_To_Kill_For/