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'Sin City' Shows How Far We've Fallen
April 18, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

It could have been a great film.

"Sin City" is Robert Rodriguez's latest cinematic venture. He directed the movie along with comic novelist Frank Miller.

Computer-generated imagery is used in an innovative way, and a bevy of well-known stars makes an appearance including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke and Jessica Alba. Unfortunately, these things aren't enough to make the flick worth watching.

In an apparent attempt to capture the hard-boiled first-person style of Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler, three brutal tales are narrated by gritty-sounding male protagonists. What do the stories have in common? Manic sadistic violence.

In an effort to reproduce the Miller comics on the big screen, Rodriguez creates a predominately black-and-white world and adds a smattering of red, blue, green and a disgusting mustard color for one of the many demonic psychopaths that populate the movie. There's a videogame feel to the film. Cyber-synthetic blood gushes as warped heroes rush to the rescue of prostitutes, strippers and other anti-damsels in distress, and the darkest side of human nature is displayed.

Characters fail to experience the pain that should accompany the severing of their limbs and unmentionable body parts. They are riddled with bullets, bound and brutally beaten and cut to ribbons with blades of every kind. It's not new, but the level that Rodriguez takes it to is.

Most of the movie components are designed to appeal to hormone-overloaded teenage males. Females are featured as decadently clad cocktail waitresses, strippers or prostitutes. Much of the clothing worn by the women has sadomasochistic overtones.

Amazingly, "Sin City" has only an R rating. NC-17 would have been more appropriate. As of this writing, the production has grossed $56 million, which doesn't include all of the underage viewers who are buying tickets for "Miss Congeniality 2" and sneaking across the corridors.

Wanton decapitation, cannibalism and sadomasochism aside, "Sin City" could serve a purpose. It might remind us of the terrible pummeling our culture is taking.

And in un-comic book fashion it just might jolt us into seeing how far we've fallen.

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Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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