Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rohan re-enters Sin City

(UK-based Rohan Morbey blogs at Stop Thinking For Yourself, and we're pleased to see him going against the disdain that is largely greeting Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.. We're delighted to repost his enthusiastic review, and hope you'll follow Rohan over on Twitter!)

Perhaps it was comic book movie fatigue; perhaps it was sequel fatigue; perhaps it was a feeling of cash grabbing now that comic book films are the money making machines they are; or perhaps it was the fact that Robert Rodriquez’ last film was utter trash, but for whatever reason I was not looking forward to Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Then I rewatched the first movie again (for the first time in many years) in preparation for this sequel and I was reminded of just how great it was, and a renewed sense of optimism washed over me.

From the first scene Rodriguez and Frank Miller (co-director and creator of the comic book) had me right back in the mindset I was in when watching the 2005 original and they never let me down. If you liked the first film then you’re going to like this new film; I can’t see anyone being split on the two unless you’re being particularly critical or have had judgment impaired by the recent efforts from Marvel and Warner Brothers which seem to pass for good comic book movies today. I’m not usually one to forgive a director for making a sequel which barely progresses from the original in terms of style and content, but the simple fact is that
I’ve not seen a film so reliant on CGI which made my eyes pop and kept my cinematic mind spinning like Sin City: A Dame To Kill For since its predecessor nine years before.

The several storylines are again deeply rooted in noir; this time around each has a femme fatale, the titular dames to kill for. Miller’s screenplay is once again an homage to noir classics but always holds a modern edge which allows the film to be brilliantly violent and relentlessly bleak, yet blackly comic at times. The cast is pretty much perfect with Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, and the gloriously evil Powers Boothe slipping effortlessly back into character, and new additions Eva Green and Josh Brolin providing beauty and brawn respectively to the film’s best storyline. Bruce Willis’ return seems needless and serves only to have his name on the poster, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t given enough to work with in relation to his talent, but these are minor criticisms.

Sure, the film pretty much looks the same as the first outing with its stark black and white pallet, digital snow, blood, bullets, arrows, cars (and pretty much everything else which moves), splashes of vibrant color here and there, and it sounds the same with hard boiled dialogue, voiceover, and classic film noir soundbites, but it still works the second time around. What I liked about the first film I appreciate even more in this sequel; released in an era where PG-13 comic book adaptations rule the box office with an iron fist, here we have a comic book film made for adults, going hard R and never looking back. Even more graphically violent than the first film and filled with nudity throughout, this is the perfect antidote for anyone who wants ‘movie escapism’ but not at the cost of having everything look the same as what came out last week.

One aspect I feel compelled to mention is the 3D. Usually I try to avoid 3D screenings at all costs but as 3D was the only option, this is the version I was forced to see. With the exception of last year’s Gravity, I’ve not felt 3D has added anything to a screening I’ve seen until now; the film was shot in 3D which, at first I assumed was yet another cash grab, but the 3D adds a layer of depth which truly works in the world of Sin City and serves to enhance the false backgrounds, CGI sets, and artificial nature of the production. For the first time since 3D has become the norm post-Avatar, this feels like a comic book brought to life as a movie, not a movie merely based on a comic book and certainly not a gimmick. Maybe it’s partly to do with the black and white presentation where the film doesn’t suffer from losing so much of its color once the glasses go on, but the way Rodriguez uses the depth which 3D brings in his film is just how the technology should be used.

So go and see Sin City: A Dame To Kill For if you’re seeking an cinema experience where no punches are pulled, no corners are cut, the men are tough, the women gorgeous, and where the sin of the city is present in every scene. Not only is it the best comic book film of the year, it’s one of the year’s best big budget films, too. Expectations be damned, Rodriguez and comic book films are back on top form.

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