Friday, September 26, 2014

Sinfully Obtuse

Stunning visual effects and a fat marketing budget can’t save Frank Miller’s Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for.


ARTH VADER (AV): Following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Sin City, Frank Miller’s next installment in his ‘night in hell’ story arc was both highly anticipated and some would say, long overdue. Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for is a crowning achievement of storytelling and technology and is the debut of Frank Miller the Director and Executive Producer (EP). Miller’s script also features new content developed exclusively for the big screen which many fans, including yours truly, were ecstatic to see. The Sin City series of books and graphic novels are considered some of very best in print, and rightly so. P-Man?

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): The story of Basin City continues in this next installment of criminals and anti-heroes colliding in meaningless violence accented by over-the-top effects. I haven’t read any of Frank Miller’s “Sin City” books, but if the film is any indication of what I missed…then I’ll be alright.

AV: You know Ponty, you would think with names like Robert “From dual tip Dawn” Rodriguez, Bruce “Die Hard” Willis and Jessica “Invisible Woman” Alba (along with a list of others to long to review here) a movie with this kind of big production budget and hype would be able to at least stand in the shadow of the first Sin City. Sadly, this was NOT the case. While this film is load with star power in front of and behind the lens, the co-directorial debit of Frank “Dark Knight” Miller was at best, a flop. Miller’s touches diluted Rodruigez’ normally stellar visuals and violent screenplay. New content to story that didn’t really need it and story pacing that would do any child with ADD proud, this film was a hot mess of mumbling dialogue, listless plot, meandering characters and pointless action scenes. 

TP: I’m surprised I don’t have more to say about the all-star cast of this film other than they probably did the best they could, given the script they were handed. Mickey Rourke returned as Marvin, and of course the violence the character ensues is expected. Other than that, the only other role that piqued my interest was that of Joseph Gordon-Leavitt. I blame the script. It has to be the script. The direction followed the same formula as the first film (which I liked) so it can only be the script.

AV: Once again we are treated in our beloved Sci-fi/fantasy genre Ponty with a movie that looks mind-bendingly delicious, but is wrapped in huge listless turd of a screenplay. Sin City 2 expands on the breathtaking black and white visuals from the 2005 original. Landscape and characters and lighting are all a thrill to behold. Though I must say, I did catch quite a few off kilter effects shots, green screen flub ups and poor choices of camera shots. All in all, this film was a visual spectacular, too bad that is the only context I can use that word in when describing this film. 

TP: Sin City 2 unleashes its own brand of special effects and although it might be an acquired taste for some Vader, I liked it. The “comic-to-life” feel and look of the film worked the first time around, and was just as interesting this time, although due to other factors (script), just didn’t pack the same punch. There was nothing groundbreaking, just a continuance of what was delivered the first time around. 


AV: C’mon Hollywood,what are we doing here? You spent well over $100 million making, distributing and advertising this film (and trust me old friend, THAT is a very conservative estimate). And what did we get? A worse movie, terrible box office performance (it’s made just $11 million in 3 weeks) and we get nothing. A forgettable waste of two hours. Can’t we expect… no, demand better films for that kind of price tag? If Franky spent more time developing the script and screenplay and less time trying to be Co-director, writer, storyboard artist, chief gaffer, make-up artist, lumber and electrician, we might have a film that matters. Just because you draw comics using film making terminology (an’s eye-view, dutch tilt, extreme close-up, etc.) doesn’t mean you can direct films. There is a reason people go to film school and dedicate their lives to telling stories through film. Maybe you should have just left that to them. 

TP: Is it possible for a film to have too many gritty one-liners and take-a-ways from the classic mysterious feel of the 1920’s novels? Yup. Every character felt one dimensional and didn’t interest me in the least, with the exception of the gratuitous violence I expected from Marvin, and the luck of Johnny (Gordon-Leavitt). It was disturbing that the only other character I even remotely had an interest in had nothing more to offer from his story than to be killed for beating his own father at a card game (talk about anti-climactic). It really doesn’t matter how many great actors you pump into the grinder, without substantial material for them to use, the end result will likely be less than anticipated. Enter “Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for.” 


AV: One might think I am done with this franchise but actually I believe a third film could be great. Look, the premise is mind-bending and the story–fundamentally–is good. Style points… 10 out of 10. The rise and fall and rise again of Frank Miller’s career would likely play out well onscreen for this franchise. A third Sin City might make for a really stellar film? What do you say Frank? Can you focus on what you’re good at let the professionals do their job without trying to it for them? Might work out for you. Just saying.  

TP: I think Frank Miller should call it a day on the Sin City story and take the first win, and this loss… and call it even. 


ARTH VADER Rates Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for: While far from the worst film ever, this movie was a hot heaping mess of woulda, coulda shoulda. I’ve ranted enough but in all fairness, minus a fantastic moderate role and story arc played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, we get no acting worth a damn and a story that… well you know. I can’t in good conscious recommend more than two (2) Busted Blocks for this film as there is so much else worth seeing. Swing and a miss, gang. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for: Although the talent in this film runs deep, the script was much too shallow to properly utilize it. When the highlights of the film are the moments of gratuitous violence, something is really wrong. It’s no wonder this film could only kill four (4) busted blocks and leave the other six lost in the script. 

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for  3 / 10 Busted Blocks

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