Sin City: Dame To Kill For
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Sin City: Dame To Kill For

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One of the many things that movies has always been extremely good at his tapping into the popular forms of entertainment and transform them into subject matter for the silver screen. As tastes and forms of storytelling changed through the years, filmmakers have kept up with the trends, turning them into rich sources of material. In turn, best-selling novels, Broadway shows and television series have all found themselves as the basis for movies. Naturally, the source of much of our modern mythology, comic books, has also found their way to Hollywood. In fact, the most popular and critically acclaimed films of recent years have all begun with our favorite comics. To a somewhat lesser extent, the more recent cousin of the comic book, the graphic novel, has also proved a rich source of stories and style. Admittedly, I have not gotten into graphic novel the same extent as I was back in my youth comic books. My brother has introduced me to a number of them and I am grateful that he did. The stories are typically dark and more complex than most comics could achieve. Stylistically, many off these works of art reflect the interest and mores of the current generation. One of the most successful graphic artists is Frank Miller, who has had great successes with two of his major works; ‘The 300’ and ‘Sin City’. The former has already enjoyed the sequel. In the latter as a sequel on the consideration here, ‘Sin City: a Dame to kill for.’ This, the Miller has become such an influence in graphic novels that his works were referenced in a mainstream television series, ‘Criminal Minds’.

Without a doubt, this story is an extension of the original, Sin City. It takes place in the same dark, crime film world derived from the mind of Mr. Miller. He and his co-director, Robert Rodriguez, have reunited the ensemble cast from the first film. Mr. Rodriguez is known for being an actor’s filmmaker; fiercely loyal to his cast members, which is reciprocated by the by their willingness to rejoin his projects. One little piece of trivia here is that Jessica Alba had just given birth not that long before production started and was caring for her daughter onset between her takes as a stripper. I’m sure any woman would agree, being paid to get back into fantastic pre-baby shape while still being able to care for your infant is an ideal situation. Among the other returnees are Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke and Rosario Dawson. As the old saying goes, "the gang is back and we are going to have some fun." In a fashion similar to the original, the movie is presented in several segments analogous to discrete issues in a graphic novel series. There is a degree of overlap, thematically and with the cast. Of course the different stories, that will be readily noticeable by fans of the media as an understanding of how graphic novels work and relate to their audience.

Just Another Saturday Night

This segment features one of the most popular characters in the Sin City universe, Marv (Mickey Rourke), the nearly indestructible ex-con and all round dangerous person to be near. The also has perchance for attracting trouble in the inevitable pain and suffering it brings. We open with a very familiar situation with a square jawed hulk of a man, is regaining consciousness. In this particular instance becomes to on a highway overlooking a housing development referred to as ‘The Projects’. What he sees as he awakens would frighten most people to their core, but as the title of the segment notes, this is a rather routine occurrence for Marv. He is surrounded by young men or violently, deceased, and it crashed police car. Marv has no recall of what has happened to bring him to the situation, which again is not too far out of the norm for him. Deciding to retrace his steps, he visits his normal Saturday night joint, Kadie's Saloon. The attraction for Marv is shared by many men there, to watch the performance of their featured dancer, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba). Outside the establishment there is a group of college boys were in the process of gleefully immolating a homeless man alive. This understanding what they are saying. As the name of a friend of his, Bernie, Marv shoots the alpha male in the arm. As the youngest flee, Marv commandeers a nearby police car and pursues them.

The Long Bad Night (Part I)

Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is a gambler by occupation was a new arrival to Sin City. One of his first stops is Kadie's three hits with one of the slot machines. His luck seems to hold as he tries out of the machines in the row. Noting that a waitress, Marcie (Julia Garner), is always near him, he dubbed targets. Good luck charm. Johnny gets pulled into a poker game with stakes far beyond his usual against people much more dangerous and powerful. One of the most notable of which is one of the most influential politicians in Sin City, Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), who does not take it lightly, when he is cleaned out by the young man. Johnny receives a little word of advice from corrupt member of the police, Lieutenant Liebowitz (Jude Ciccolella), that is best course of action is to cash in and get out as soon immediately.

A Dame to Kill For

In this titular statement, we are taken back in time several years. One of Sin City’s most violent of the denizens, "The Big Fat Kill", Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), is attempting to change the course of his life by becoming a private investigator and staying sober. When he saves the life of a poker, hooker, Sally (Juno Temple), Dwight is pulled into more than he bargained for. The would-be murderer was Joey (Ray Liotta), a successful local entrepreneur. White is contacted by a former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green), who left him years back with the extremely wealthy, Damian Lord (Marton Csokas). She is afraid that Lord’s chauffeur, Manute (Dennis Haysbert), has been ported to do her grievous bodily harm. Considering he is more a mountain of muscle and sinew, this is a rather forgone conclusion. Dwight reaches out to another former girlfriend, Gail (Rosario Dawson), a prostitute, with particularly lethal inclinations and a particularly agile professional killer, Miho (Jamie Chung). When law turns up dead two detectives from Sin City police, Mort (Christopher Meloni) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), or called in to investigate.

The Long Bad Night (Part II)

As we return to Johnny and his plight, he trades his last $40 and his shoes to an unlicensed physician, Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd), for his ‘professional’ services. The doctor is more interested in shooting up his heroine that actually helping Johnny, but he eventually does. Johnny winds up being helped by a sympathetic waitress (Lady Gaga), to run a con Roark.

Nancy's Last Dance

In a familiar fashion for the series, this last segment brings us full circle. Again, going back in time to several years after the segment in the original film detailing the ‘Yellow Bastard (Nick Stahl), otherwise known as Roark Junior, Nancy is drinking heavily. She decides to get her revenge on the senator by killing him. She is visited by the ghost of the one man she felt she could trust, Hartigan (Bruce Willis), whom she feels is watching over. Considering Nancy’s act includes a pair of rather scanty chaps and Cowboys six shooters, or assassination methodology is self-evident.

This is a reimagining of one of my favorite film genres, the film noir. One of the dominant genres of crime films in the 30s and 40s, these stories were exceptionally dark with characters that were of ambiguous morality. The term ‘dame’, maybe exceptionally politically incorrect now, but within the context set by this category of story is part of the expected raise of referring to a young woman. Almost every aspect of the Sin City universe as created by Frank Miller is essentially an ideal course of study for film noir. Morality is not only subject to constant flux, but underlying many of the characters is a strong code of conduct. The good guy will always try to save the innocent, even when it means enduring a considerable amount of pain and suffering. The sinister characters are not just villains; they are the epitome of pure evil. There is a stark contrast between characters like Roark and those such as Marv. Both can be expected to act in their predestined fashion. This is a strong part of this category of film that despite the ambiguity driving most of the characters; they ultimately run true to form. What is most notable about the works of Frank Miller is his unique style. The story unfolds predominantly in black and white splashes of color accenting the scene. One black and white figure may/at another, but the blood that pours out his bright red. This brings the audience into the mindset of the film noir fan in the stylistic setting. Most of those movies created. The inclusion of flashes of color make certain you know that you are basically watching a graphic novel presented on the screen. The film is great at holding your interest and even the technical flaws that are obvious only enhance the foreboding mood of the film. This instalment of this series was done in 3D which for the most part was properly executed. There was virtually no reliance on the usual cheap gimmick of pushing items out of the plane of the screen at the audience. Depth is used to add to the reality of the movie and while anachronistic to emulating the source material does work to an acceptable degree.

The movie in high-speed green screen - All green screen version
Makeup effects of "Sin City" with Greg Nicotero
Stunts of "Sin City" with Jeff Dashnaw
Character Profiles

Posted 11/21/2014

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