Sin City, Wikipedia, God of War

by Mike Shea on 8 April 2005

I saw Sin City last weekend. It's a great movie with a few qualifiers. If you've read the three graphic novels it's based on; The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard; you've seen just about everything that's in the movie. I don't know that having Bruce Willis as Hardigan brings anything to the story that wasn't there in the comic. It bothers me that people continually refer to the movie's accuracy to the comic when the movie cost $40 million and the comic was the work of one man with a pen.

Comic books are a wonderful medium with cheap production costs and a lot of merit for storytelling yet here in America they stick mainly to kiddie stuff. Ever since the Comic Code Authority cut the feet off of mature comic books, Comics stuck to the stories a thirteen year old could safely read. Our country doesn't exploit the medium of comics nearly as well as it could. Comics are one of the best ways to tell a surrealistic story based on vision and imagery rather than the direct description of a novel or story. Our country loves movies based on comic books. Spider Man 1 and 2, Xmen 1 and 2, the Hulk, Daredevil; all of these did very well at the box office. Yet sales of the comics they are based on have gone down. Soon there won't be a single original comic produced that the jackass producers of Hollywood can steal and sex up with $120 million in big-stars and computer graphics.

Sin City is a great movie and it does a lot to bring some visibility to the original Frank Miller Sin City comics, but the comics are better. Instead of joining the other lemmings on Saturday night, order the Sin City comics from Amazon and give them a read instead.

Sin City has no problem showing a man sawing off another man's arms and legs. It has no problem showing a woman in a babydoll nighty beaten with a whip. Three times, however, the movie avoids showing a penis. This was aparently self-censorship, both Rodriguez and Miller chose not to show penises because it was distracting, but it at least one incident in The Big Fat Kill, I felt having a captured man go from naked to clothed made a big difference for the brutality of our hero when he stabs him in the stomach. They also put a bra on Nancy, aparently a consession for Jessica Alba so she wouldn't offend her father. Censorship is censorship, regardless of who inflicts it, and none of this helped the movie break any molds. Why is America so afraid of penises?

I would love to see comic books explode back into popularity. I would like mainstream adults to feel comfortable reading stories like The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. I would love to see really great writers like Frank Miller continue to push this medium into the main stream.

There is a lot of room for creativity in movies. Kill Bill 1 and 2 were the most creative movies I've seen in the last five years and they didn't have to come from a comic book or a novel. Adaptations are lazy writing. If you want a good movie, write a good story yourself. On the other hand, a lot more people know what Sin City is now and if you haven't read the comics, you may very well like the movie a lot.

On to Wikipedia.

The more I surf it the more I love Wikipedia. This single website has the greatest potential for being a single source for all human knowledge. Rather than having a small set of writers, Wikipedia taps into the expertise of everyone. Each of us has a topic we know a lot about and Wikipedia captures that expertise. I read today that CD and DVD versions of the english Wikipedia will become available by the end of the year. Soon we can each hold this giant captured repository of over 500,000 topics on two slivers of plastic and aluminium. Technology is grand.

Last week I had the pleasure of burning through God of War for the Playstation 2. Many critics agree (96 of 100 on Metacritic) that it's one of the best action adventure games ever made. I agree for the most part but it isn't perfect. God of War is a very mature game, thats for sure. The violence is extreme and very well done. This is the first game I've ever seen that has the balls to show topless women. There's even an orgy mini-game after the first level. I was actually carded at Best Buy when I went to pick it up, part of Best Buy's zero tolerance against breasts policy, I think.

The action in the game is excellent. It has a powerful combination system, a great weapon and magic upgrade path, and mini-game finishing moves for a lot of the bigger beasts. You twirl your analog sticks in time with the main character twisting the head off of a Gorgon, for example.

The theme is all Greek mythology and it works really well. Pandora's temple is a nearly perfect architectual construction for tricks, traps, and puzzles that not only are fun to work through but make a lot of sense in the storyline. There's no random puzzles for puzzle's sake. When you move a block over a platform, gears turn, counterweights fall, rusted chains creek and shift. It feels like Indiana Jones.

There are a few problems, however. The game is really short. I beat it in seven hours at a mix of Normal and Easy difficulty settings. I should have stuck to normal but doing so would really only slow me down in combat sequences that would only frustrate me anyway. They really trimmed the fat with this game, I never felt like I hit a timesink or filler just to keep the game long. There is no way to start the game over again with all of your weapon, magic, health, and mana progression. There is no way to cheat to go through the game with all of your weapons and items. The unlocked God mode proves so hard as to be useless. The game's overall replay value is pretty low.

Still, it is one of the most beautiful, hard core, violent, and powerful action games I've ever played. Even for seven hours it was worth the $45.

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