Keep checking back to this post, and I’ll include some Sin City reviews that are worth reading.

Here’s the first impression of my longtime friend Wayne Proctor, who is a comic book enthusiast and a big fan of Frank Miller. Wayne says the film is faithful to the book … and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Sin City does achieve visual brilliance. It is also as faithful to its material as it can be, like a new edition of the comics being adapted. This has the effect of making one ache to be reading the books over much of the course of the film. It also has a damaging effect on any sense of rhythym the film might achieve; while there are moments where the editing starts to coalesce into a good pace, they are overwhelmed by Rodriguez’s fanatical devotion to the material (or perhaps by the fact that the material’s creator is co-directing at his shoulder).

The brutality is as unrelenting as it is in the books, though here you cannot pause and put the book down, or even take a break between the books: here there is a breathless assault that lasts a long two hours. Because of the flood of blood and human suffering, and without a real arc to support the lack of pacing, the two hours feel very long indeed.

I’m interested to see how folks will react that are not previously familiar with the material (new printings have completely sold out in anticipation of the film’s release). There are so many allusions to character’s backgrounds and characters that appear without any kind of formal introduction, the effect is detrimental. I wonder if viewers will be able to follow a lot of what is going on with the central
characters beyond immediate demands of kill this person, chop that person into pieces, geld the other guy.

On their own, the separate stories stand tall, but heaped together they tend to creak, if only because we viewers never get a moment of relief. This is unfortunate since the stories do not aspire to grandiose levels but are in fact small set pieces populated by simple characters wanting to live simple lives. Think Hobbiton with a red light district.

Though Sin City is being touted as the next Pulp Fiction, and it might very well enjoy the same kind of pop impact, this film is a far cry from Tarantino; the visual flourishes all come from the books, and the stories do not seek any kind of truth beyond the limits of what the human body can endure.

The guy who created -and continues to create- Sin City, Frank Miller, works in a style that can best be described as “camp noir”. He utilises all the sensibility of Chandler with his “knights in dirty armor”, and he surrounds these driven individuals with an absurd universe in which a lot of humor exists. You have to laugh at a guy who from the electric chair, after the switch has been thrown, says, “Is that the best you can do, pansies?” If you can buy into that kind of humor, Sin City is a place for you, in the books at least; in the film, be ready to feel like you’ve been on the electric chair yourself.

David Poland (The Hot Button) and a follow-up in his blog here

Peter Chattaway’s first impressions (FilmChat)

J. Hoberman (Village Voice)

I’m skipping the press screening due to deadlines … and due to an increasing sense that I really don’t need to sit and be visually assaulted with sex and violence for two hours just because “it’s something we’ve never seen before.” If I learn there’s really something worth talking about here, perhaps I’ll go.

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