Innovative cinematography, stunning film noir sets, and a harem of beautiful creatures did nothing to redeem the unflinchingly viscous attack that is Sin City. Robert Rodriguez's movie adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels, is brilliant, beautiful, and brutal. In short, it's unwatchable.
No film before has been so faithful in its rendering of a graphic novel to the screen and no film in recent memory, with the notable exception of the Passion of the Christ has been so gratuitously unrelenting in its portrayal of violence. Sin City's numerous beatings, perverse mutilations, and cannibalism create a spectacle that will be tolerated by only the most violence inured of audiences. Upon leaving the theater, and for hours afterward, I was speechless.
The release of Sin City is not without a moral lesson, however. It perfectly illustrates what's missing in the Motion Picture Association's rating of films. The ubiquitous trailer, the internet ads, a theater full of young teens, and the associations simple rating of "R" did not prepare me to see a film so disturbingly violent. If the MPAA had really been trying to help me, parents and teenagers make informed choices about movies, then this film would have been rated NC-17 for violence. Better yet, the MPAA would recognize that it is failing in its duty to inform and would adopt a rating system that clearly enumerates the potentially objectionable elements in a film before I go to the theater. If there are thematic elements I don't want to see in movies I watch, shouldn't I be allowed to know and decide before I go to the theater?
The MPAA failing aside, Sin City is beautiful but sickening, clever but soul crushing. The movie is a ravishing study in vile and potential moviegoers are strongly cautioned to consider the intensity of the film's portrayal of violence before deciding to attend.