Friday, September 5, 2014

Quadruple-Feature: Never Let the Monster Out

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Spoilers Ahead

This is the one I've been waiting the longest for. I was a huge fan of the first film - it remains one of my favorites, which then got me into the comics.

It's taken me a while to come to terms with exactly why I've come to love Frank Miller's film-noir-on-steroids, especially since Frank's more recent work has aligned with views polar-opposite of my own. And I think my answer is that A) It's fun, and B) Despite the scantily-clad prostitutes and macho narration, I truly feel like everyone is equal in Sin City. There's good, evil, strength, and weakness in all forms and in all different people. The city is a dystopian nightmare, and it takes a lot to survive from everyone.

So how does this second film fare? Pretty good. It's not nearly as good as the first, but I never expected it to be. The first one already used the best stories Sin City had to offer, so whatever's left would have to be second-stringers anyway. In fact, only two stories are even from the books: the titular story, which is the centerpiece, and the opening short "Just Another Saturday Night" featuring some Marv misadventures.

Ah, good ol' Marv.

Dame to Kill For was never my favorite of the books, but it's translated fairly well. I actually think Josh Brolin is a better Dwight with both faces than Clive Owen (who does not return), Eva Green and Christopher Miloni add power to the cast. The Ray Liotta cameo was kind of funny in that that role is the last one I'd expect him to play.

Long Bad Night, out of the two originals, I think is the most worthy of being included in the franchise. Joseph Gorden Levitt plays a hero you really root for, and the story features impressive cameos by Christopher Lloyd and Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, it's one of those all-too-familiar "Sad Endings" for a Sin City Yarn - not even bittersweet as the one victory is phyrric at best.

On the other end of that spectrum is the long-rumored Nancy's Last Dance. I felt like the build-up wasn't as convincing as it could have been and some of the action threatens to contradict the original Hard Goodbye story without some high author saving throws from Miller. But the payoff is so satisfying I'm willing to forgive a somewhat sloppy intro.

All the returning cast does excellent as usual. Dennis Haysbert does a fantastic job filling the late Michael Clarke Duncan's shoes as Manute. Less so Jamie Chung taking over for Devon Aoki's Miho (I'm still unsure what happened to her), as she looks nothing like either the comic or Aoki. Jeremy Piven actually does a better Bob than Micheal Madsen did in the first, though neither of then really look the part (it's really more of a Danny DeVito role, honestly). Shellie was written out completely, probably in tribute to the late Brittany Murphy (and her role was minor at best anyway, unlike Manute).

With the two original stories and the remaining ones being shot for 3D, it may feel like there's less stylization and shot-for-panel than the first, but it still captures the feel. If you liked the first one and recognize that none of the other stories will top it, you'll enjoy this one fine. I did. And I'd love to see them do a third one, preferably Hell and Back.

That's the end of the Quadruple-Feature. Now all I need to do is save up for Mockingjay and Battle of Five Armies.

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