The men are ugly, hard-boiled psychopaths, murderers and criminals. The women are beautiful deadly, waitresses, prostitutes and lesbians. There are gunfights, decapitations, dismemberments and castrations. Characters are beaten, tortured and shot. Many are killed and some eaten, not necessarily in that order.

The violence is stylized, the blood flows by the gallon and it’s all shown in aesthetically pleasing black and white, with splashes of color. Oh yeah, and it’s based on a comic book.

“Sin City” isn’t a movie for everyone, and those who see it are either going to love it or hate it. Basically, if the list above reads anything like a warning, you might find your time spent better elsewhere.

However, if you’re intrigued, curious or simply indifferent to what I’ve mentioned above, then this film is definitely worth watching. Then again, don’t let the list fool you – there are reasons to see “Sin City” beyond the action and violence.

There isn’t one single plot in “Sin City” but several, as the movie is a collection of several vignettes primarily concerning the adventures of three characters who walk the mean streets of Basin City.

We’re introduced to each in their own story line. There’s Hartigan, an aging cop with “a bum ticker,” Marv, a hulking brute who may or may not be insane and cares a little too much and Dwight, a killer on the run who is actually crazy and has a tendency to speak his voice-over narration out loud.

Due to the nonlinear way in which the film is structured, these narratives intertwine and complement one another, allowing characters to leave and return to the picture after even after they’ve been “written out.”

These characters are either protecting someone or seeking revenge – although it’s usually both – which means that many people will be maimed and murdered before their narratives conclude. And remember, these are the “good guys” committing most of the violence, so I’ll leave it up to you to imagine what the villains must be like. Apparently though, in Basin City, conspiracies abound, priests have a penchant for killing prostitutes and practicing cannibalism, criminals are less corrupt than police and wanton violence is a nightly occurrence.

“Sin City” is an extreme film, but the reason I loved it was the self-aware, parodic quality that lies just under its surface. The male leads are so preposterously tough and the women are so obviously “dames” that the whole thing plays like a parody of the “hard-boiled” genre.

In one scene, after Marv is riddled with bullets and survives, he laments that he wasn’t shot enough times to die. In another, Shellie, a waitress, delivers a line so delicately and breathlessly that you can’t help but laugh.

All this means, of course, that we get to have our cake and eat it, too, which is exactly why I recommend “Sin City.” On one level, you are engrossed by the style, excessive violence and action. On another, you get to laugh about the absurdity of it all. Then, as an added bonus, you get to laugh at yourself for believing in it. But chances are, you’ll love it anyway, which is why you should include it in your plans for the weekend.

Battenhausen can be reached at dbattenhausen@campustimes.org.



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