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.

Sin City 2 Lady Gaga

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.

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?

Sin City 2: So who’s the dame?

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Imagine the scenario. It’s been seven years since the first Sin City and the wheels are finally in motion for the follow up, however Rodriguez’s patience is wearing thin. Word is that cameras started rolling a few days ago, yet there are still parts to be cast. Myself – like many fans – were probably wondering why it’s taken seven years.

I suppose Miller’s failure with The Spirit meant he had to ‘take a break’ for a few years, at least until a studio were willing to back him again. I’m not sure I entirely buy that as sole reason for delay. Rodriguez directed the original and I’m sure he’ll be directing this one, particularly since his Barbarella remake stalled. Miller’s role has always been the script and – to a degree – the casting. So who knows why it’s taken this long. Best not dwell, let’s look at the story.

a dame to kill forA dame worth killing for
In terms of plot, the story takes place after the death of Hartigan but before some of the events of the first film. The story focuses on Dwight, who takes revenge on a woman who betrayed him, Ava Lord, the Dame.

At the same time, Nancy is trying to come to terms with the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the man who saved her from Yellow Bastard in the first film.

In terms of script Miller has not been idle. He’s spent time ensuring there are no loose plot strands and that both films will mesh together effectively. With William Monahan, Oscar winning script-writer for The Departed, assisting on the final draft.

Last call for casting
Goldie (Jaime King) is on board and we’ve got a new deadly, little Miho (Jamie Chung). This is encouraging as Miho is meant to have a bigger part in A Dame to Kill For and Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch) is a bit of an up-and-coming actress.

jessica albaUsual suspects are all back: Marv (Mickey Rourke), skinny little Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), Bob (Michael Madsen), Gail (Rosario Dawson), and of course Dwight (Clive Owen). Dwight’s character undergoes facial surgery in this storyline, so it’s possible there will be another actor playing Dwight pre-surgery.

Sadly, actors Michael Clarke Duncan and Brittany Murphy passed away in the seven years between these two films. Their characters, Manute and Shellie, will have to be replaced and have yet to be cast.

So who will play Ava Lord?
Rodriguez and Miller’s original choice Angelina Jolie – whom I’ve spoken about in the past – is out of the picture, tied up with Disney’s Maleficent. She’s clearly going to be brilliant in that, but it is a kid’s film. She was born to play the ultimate femme fatale.

As a fan of Angie I reserve the right to act like a toddler and stamp my foot and demand she quits and heads straight to Rodriguez’s studio in Texas. Sadly it’s not going to happen.

Sin City 2She smells like angels ought to smell
Actresses that have their names in the hat to play Ava Lord include Salma Hayek, Rose McGowan and Rachel Weisz. For me, the latter is the most interesting. She’s never really played a full-on, seductive temptress but I think she’d be outstanding. Salma Hayek would slip pretty effortlessly into the role – anyone that’s seen her snake dance in Dusk Till Dawn would agree.

However, I have a feeling the role will go to Rose McGowan. For me, she’s the biggest unknown in terms of whether she’ll excel as Ava Lord. Whoever it ends up being, I’m sure they’ll be a revelation. We just need to wait 11 months to find out!