Sin City 2: Was it worth the wait?

Momentum is a funny thing. When graphic novelist Frank Miller first teamed up with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez in 2005, the result was Sin City. Filmed mostly on green screen, it was a dark, dirty neo-noir delight. Fit to burst with swooning dames, femme fatales and bad ass guys. Critically and commercially it was a success. And it felt fresh.

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What I’m getting at here is that it’s taken almost ten years to bring us the sequel. In general, Hollywood rarely lets this happen. If they’ve got a good thing going, they keep it going. However, Rodriguez operates somewhat apart from the Hollywood machine and, as such, it’s taken nigh on a decade for the pieces to fall into place and for Sin City 2 to hit the big screen.

The question is, did they lose momentum? Is it possible to recapture the gritty feel of the original? Will Miller and Rodriguez strike noir gold again? The answer, typically, is yes and no. Momentum has been lost, there’s no denying it. Had this film come out 2 or 3 years after the first one we’d probably feel rather differently. It might be looked on more favourably.

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The problem is that, since the release of the first film it’s taken on a bit of a cult status. A status which has grown with each passing year. Perhaps this second film will take on a similar status, but I rather doubt it.

As per the first film, A Dame To Kill For is divided into three stories. The main story – and film’s title – focuses on Dwight McCarthy (played by Clive Owen in the first film and Josh Brolin here) and his love-hate relationship with the ultimate femme fatale, Ava Lord (Eva Green).

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Angelina Jolie was originally meant to be the dame, but it didn’t work out. Perhaps for the best as Green was born to play Ava Lord. She’s pretty much been doing this sort of role most of her career anyway – and it’s not a stretch to picture her as a woman that can drive guys crazy. Seduction incarnate indeed.

Brolin does well picking up the mantle from Clive Owen. His Dwight perhaps more animalistic, less measured and more of a brute. I’m not sure he fits into Miller’s world as well as Owen did, but that’s a minor point.

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The second story – newly written by Miller for the film – follows Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cocky gambler on a revenge tale of sorts. He fitted well into this world as a character and Gordon-Levitt’s performance was convincing. You’d almost wish he’d somehow featured in the first film as I’d have liked to have seen more of him.

The final story picks up after events of the first film and follows everyone’s favourite stripper, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba). When the only man she ever loved (Hartigan, played by Bruce Willis) took his own life, Nancy fell to pieces and vowed revenge on the man responsible, corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe on fine, evil form).

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For those characters that continued from the first film, Nancy has changed the most and it’s nice to see Alba have more of a role to sink her teeth into. Although in some ways it’s sad as her character was really the only pure soul in the first tale and, in this story, Basin City has finallly gotten to her. She played the part well though.

As a film, this doesn’t have the impact of the original from a storytelling point of view. The three stories don’t overlap as well as the original, nor are they as emotionally affecting. That said, as a sequel it’s a good addition and should have been made. The other characters returning – particularly Mickey Rourke’s Marv – feel like they’ve not been away at all and the actors looked like they were having a ball.

In general it’s been worth the wait. It won’t grab you as much as the original but it’s a worthy effort. Two is plenty though Mr Miller and Mr Rodriguez, we don’t need a trilogy.

Trailer park: Lucy, a messenger and a dame

scarlette-johanssen-lucy-trailerDing, ding! The time has come for another trailer park breakdown. If you’re unfamiliar, this is the latest in a series of posts where I provide my pick of upcoming films with a little bit of info to set the scene and, of course, the trailer to get you all fired up.

Lucy
(US release 8 August, UK 22 August)
What if we could access the full processing power of our brains? Writer-director Luc Besson explores this theme via a kick-ass heroine. In the past he’s given us Milla Jovovich and Natalie Portman and now, a lady enjoying a fine run of form, Scarlett Johansson. Her character, Lucy, is forced by the mob to be a drug mule. Unfortunately the drugs get into her system… with interesting results. This could, potentially, be Besson’s best film yet.


Kill the Messenger

(US release 10 October, UK 28 November)
Based on a true tale that saw a journalist stumble onto a story involving cocaine, the CIA and rebels in Nicaragua. From the prisons of California to the corridors of power in Washington this looks an epic ride. And if story alone isn’t enough there’s also a cracking cast which includes Jeremy Renner, Michael Sheen, Ray Liotta, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Andy Garcia.


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

(US and UK release 22 August)
Good lord this has been a long time coming. But good things come to those who wait, they say. And wait we have. But this also means that this Robert Rodriguez directed prequel needs to be as good as the original… Or better, if they can manage it. Some old faces return for this tale, but new additions – Josh Brolin, Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt – look the part and seem to fit nicely into Frank Miller’s sinful world.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For draws closer

It’s finally here. Well, the trailer at least. And I’m as giddy as Michael Bay who’s just been handed the keys to a set of real-life Transformers with matching explosives.

I have to say, it’s been a long wait but, now images and clips are beginning to be released, there’s grimy, noir-ish light at the end of the tunnel. Great cast too: Josh Brolin, Joseph-Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe, and of course, Eva Green. The deadly dame. The femme fatale of our dreams and nightmares.

What with this film, 300: Rise Of An Empire and new TV show, Penny Dreadful, Miss Green looks set for quite a year. About time too, she’s been away too long. Anyway… without further ado, here’s the trailer and some images to fuel your desire for all things Basin City.

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Sin City 2: the hunt for Ava Lord continues…

ava lord picHaving recently read Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I’m pretty clued up on the story – not that the film will stick exactly to the graphic novel, but one can assume it will fairly closely.

So what’s it about?
Without spoiling it too much I’ll just say the events of the graphic novel take place before the first Sin City film. So this is, in a sense, a prequel that largely focuses on Dwight, but also brings in two new stories, written by Miller exclusively for the film.

The story begins with Dwight working as a private eye/photographer, saving a hooker from getting shot by a client. That night he gets a call out the blue from Ava Lord, the dame, asking for help out of her marriage, claiming her husband abuses her.

Ava and Dwight used to be an item and he wants nothing to do with her. However, unable to sleep that night, he decides to investigate her claims. From there Dwight’s life goes straight to hell as it’s clear Ava is playing a deadly game, one which Dwight is determined to win – with the help of Marv and the girls from Old Town.

dennis haysbert manute sin cityNew cast members
In terms of the cast, we’ve got some new additions. In this storyline Ava has a bodyguard of sorts, Manute. An imposing and menacing figure, played by Michael Clarke-Duncan in the first film, who sadly passed away last year. He’s been replaced with Dennis Haysbert, who some of you might remember as President David Palmer in TV show 24 – an excellent choice, he’ll make a great Manute.

The increasingly ubiquitous Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on board as new character, Johnny, a cocky gambler with a mission of his own. Christopher Meloni – most recently seen as Roman, head of the vampire authority in the recent season of True Blood – will have a supporting role.

josh brolin as dwight sin cityMost interestingly though, Josh Brolin has signed up as Dwight. To explain, during the events of A Dame to Kill For, Dwight gets severely injured and has surgery to alter his appearance – thus allowing Clive Owen to play him in the first film and Brolin in this one. Brolin’s getting a bit of a reputation for playing younger versions of characters – having already played an unerringly accurate version of a youthful Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black III. He’s an outstanding actor and will clearly bring a lot to Dwight’s character.

Still no dame!
The beautiful, curvy, seductive temptress has yet to be cast. Either that or she’s been cast and Rodriguez is keeping extremely quiet. I doubt that though, in this modern internet age. With original choice Angelina Jolie more than likely out the picture, smart money is still on one of these three, probably in this order: Marion Cotillard ava lord sin city 2Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Rachel Weisz. My choice would be Weisz – she’s never played a seductive temptress but instinct tells me she’d astonish us.

Although if you’d like a shopping list of sultry and seductive femme fatales that could potentially play Ava, look no further than IMDb. They’ve compiled an enticing list of ladies.

Eva Green or Vera Farmiga would be really interesting choices. Or Marion Cotillard as an outside bet? She’s certainly seductive and exotic and a dame worth killing for! Who would you like to play her?

Dark Knight – the rise of Robin?

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ImageFair play to Joseph Gordon Levitt (hereafter known as JGL), his career has been incredibly interesting. He has only recently started to appear in proper blockbuster type films, most of those with Chris Nolan.

I remember him from his Third Rock from the Sun days. If you watch the early episodes you realise how young he was when he started. He sort of vanished off the scene – at least in my mind – for a while, until he began popping up in various indie films, which did his career no harm at all. I keep re-watching Brick, it’s so multi-layered and intriguing. Worth revisiting if you have the time, if you’ve not then what are you waiting for? Also really liked him in 500 Days of Summer. He showed a comic side, but also an emotional vulnerability. It was also a great rom com for guys to watch, if you can call it that.

joseph gordon levitt dark knight risesAnyway, back to the subject of this post. I wanted to discuss his role in The Dark Knight Rises. It seems as though Gary Oldman (aka Jim Gordon) took a back seat in this one, getting shot early on and spending half the film in hospital. He quickly promoted JGL to Detective and sent him all over town chasing Bane. It seems from Inception to Dark Knight, JGL has made giant leaps in bigger roles in bigger films. His character in Dark Knight had a sort of deep, insightful take on the world and seemed to convey authority as a young rookie cop.

The scene where he tells Bruce Wayne he knows his identity was nicely done. JGL played it perfectly. I assume the studio asked Nolan if they could leave the ending open for a follow up. Hence JGL’s tiny, throwaway scene near the end, where a woman says he should use his real name ‘Robin’.

I admit I cringed a little at that one. Introducing Catwoman into Nolan’s world of Batman was ambitious enough, but Robin? I suppose, like everyone else I am casting my mind back to Chris O’Donnell’s Robin – it’s hard to get him out of your head to be honest. It’s like some sort of horrific accident, you feel compelled to look. Or in this case, unfortunately compelled to remember.

Anyway, if Nolan – or another brave Director – does take up the mantle for a future film, Robin could be an interesting character if JGL took the role. Not sure what sort of enemies he’d be able to hold his own against? Bane? Joker? Hmmm, dont’ think he would stand a chance. Either way, it would be interesting to see a ‘dark’ version of Robin, no campness, no frivolity. Gritty all the way!

What do you guys think? What I do know is that his career is on the up. Indeed, he’s currently flavour of the month in Hollywood, playing the lead in two films currently out at the moment, Looper and Premium Rush. The former, playing a young version of Bruce Willis.

Looper has reunited JGL with the Director of Brick, Rian Johnson, so I’m expecting big things. It’s already been very well received by critics so I’m itching to see it.

Until next time…

Mikey P