Scene 19 – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a film that does about what you’d expect from a sequel that finally hits theaters almost ten years after its predecessor,  it gives the audience more of the same in terms of style and characters, but  not a whole lot more to be honest . Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller return to co-writing and directing duties, bring the same visually stunning style that made the first movie  so resonate with audiences and fans.

The sequel takes ironically enough takes place in the same world; Sin City,  and once again tells its eerie noir vignettes through multiple character point-of-views full of its signature gratuitous violence, over-the-top vulgarity, and the black and white comic book panel style interspersed with dramatic splashes of color for effect.

Much of the original cast returns as well, and thankfully the nine years since the original Sin City have been kind to those actors…well the CG has been kind and done wonders for Mickey Rourke, who returns as the fan favorite Marv. Marv is just as insane and unpredictable as he was the first time around as he bashes skulls and swigs whiskey in his unusual but entertainingly written way.

Jessica Alba is given much more to do this time around as her character Nancy finally lets Sin City and the loss of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) corrupt her. It can be a bit confusing as to when the stories in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For do actually take place, as this particular story takes place after the first film, but other segments/characters, including a pre-gold eye Manute (Dennis Haysbert replacing the late Michael Clark Duncan), take place notably before the events of Sin City.

The notable new cast are actually a nice switch-up, and add the few factors of the film that somewhat outdo the original Sin City. Josh Brolin was born to play a character in these films with his square jaw and lined face, and he takes the focus of the movie, playing the dangerously smitten Dwight. Dwight can’t say no to his ex-lover Eva (played conveniently by Eva Green)…and to blame him who could, considering she is naked for pretty much the entirety of her scenes.

Eva Green yet again steals every scene, just as she did in 300: Rise of an Empire, and looks stunning with the black-and-white contrast mixed with her red lips and green eyes. This style of cinematography suits her down to the ground and she is clearly going through one of the most productive parts of her career, playing outlandish, strong and not always virtuous characters.

Another welcomed addition is Joseph Gordon Levitt, who brings one of the more noir-ish storylines as Johnny, a poker player that’s on a roll with revenge on his mind….if that doesn’t sound like a line from a movie poster I don know what does! His clash with the returning Powers Boothe as Senator Roark ends up being one of my favorite portions of the film, as it is so suited to the noir style.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For suffers from many of the same problems that the first film had, namely a severe imbalance in the quality in effects and artistic values. Some scenes, such as a sequence that sees Marv beat up the bad guys from the point-of-view of the camera following him through windows in a mansion, almost Hulk-esque,  are brilliantly directed by Rodriguez. Then on the other hand  we have scenes like one with Marv and Nancy on motorcycles, which look so fake and poor that it’s almost laughable. I know Rodriguez is a director that likes to walk the line in terms of his vision and how he goes about achieving it, but its scenes like this that take away a lot of the artistic argument for these films.

Another point I had are the stories, or their extremities rather, as the stories/characters get so excessive or extreme, just for sake of being shocking, and end up ultimately feeling fake.…again this could be analysing  Sin City as a fiction movie rather the a comic adaptation movie. They, as in comic book adaptations,  are speaking to the raging hormone fanboy audience that prefers something more colorful to usual language, saying that is not that there isn’t a place for this type of storytelling, but it will certainly take down an otherwise intelligently original film.

Fans of the original film will find Sin City: A Dame to Kill For satisfying to those same distinct tastes for stylized violence and larger-than-life quirky characters. But even with some exciting new additions to the cast, the film never goes beyond the trappings of the original film and rarely, if ever, does anything better.


Scene 2 – The Guest

Next up is The Guest directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett both of V/H/S and You’re Next acclaim.

It is story about David (Dan Stevens) who pays a visit to the Peterson family, explaining that he served with their recently deceased son stating ‘I was with him when he died’,….Eh..he seems nice… The Peterson family welcome him in with open arms …I know right?!  The mother, Laura (Shelia Kelley) embraces David’s appreciation of her. The father, Spencer (Leland Orser), welcomes a new drinking buddy. The son, Luke (Brendan Meyer), worships David for being like a step-in big brother and dealing with the school bullies. And Lastly the daughter, Anna (Maika Monroe) is smitten by his Ryan Gosling-esque looks and the ‘Good is the new bad’ persona that he has.

In the beginning everything is perfect…if you call letting a person you don’t know into you house, pick your kid up from school and act like shrink to both Spencer and Laura…  Ok, so story moves on and Spencer gets a promotion because his boss dies,  while Anna’s troublemaker boyfriend gets arrested for allegedly killing one of his friends….talk about a bad week. But Anna thinks David is fitting in a little too well and decides to do a background check on him by contacting his old military base finding out he isn’t who he says he is cause a massive manhunt.

Major Carver (Lance ‘Everyday Samuel Jackson ‘ Reddick) leads the search resulting in explosions, gun fire and car crashes. Carver is foiled everytime he encounters Dan because not only has he read ‘101 things that make you a better Ryan Gosling’ but he also watched the Terminator Trilogy the week before and is feeling indestructible!

Overall, The Guest is about below average and moderately entertaining at best, turning 99 mins into ( insert famously long and boring thing here….probably any Hugh Grant movie) The supporting cast don’t really offer much, and neither does plot hole ridden script. And the best part is …….
that the end is left open for a possible sequel…… afternoon guest ??

What baffles me is how this film has gotten so many good reviews….I know each to their own yada yada yada…. but some of the stuff I have read (which actually brought me to watching it ) is laughable! Terms like ‘psychological suspense’ and ‘grindhouse- esque’, were thrown around loosely.  In actuality, the first 20-25 minutes aren’t half bad as a suspense… actually more than half was bad but I’ll move on…this is before it starts to veer off towards another Bourne Identity movie with terribly clichéd ending!!

Thats the biggest problem with this movie, after the initial 20 minutes is that it never settles into the psychological suspense-thriller that it is supposed to be. It adds a spy element, which never really finds its self let alone explains why it’s there, before ending with a horror homage similar to those of the 80’s. The transition from theme to theme, scene to scene just didn’t work, and not in the way were if they tried a different avenue or so on that it could have…this was just ridiculous!

The 80’s theme transferred over to the soundtrack…which for me didn’t work either. The idea I’m guessing was to reinforce the retro feel to some of the cinematography, parts of the script and of course the homage to 80’s horror…again this didn’t work for me. Maybe this is me being to critical…but it just came across as a cheap imitation of Cliff Martinez’s Drive masterpiece.

In fact that what I am going to do, I’m going to watch Drive to see how a  realneo-80’s masterpiece is done!!