Monday Morning Critic – Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Ever Changing Landscape Of Comic Book / Graphic Novel Films Since Sin City (Also Reviewed)

MMC

In the near decade it’s taken for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to get Sin City 2 into theatres, changed from that tentative title for many years to Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For for the actual film, out into theaters. In the decade or so since the film was made the entire landscape of the genre has profoundly changed and it’s something I want to explore this week.

Mainly it’s because I don’t want to be one of the usual types who raves about how profound an influence Robin Wiliams was on my cinema going habits (he wasn’t) or feign the sort of sorrow people did when Michael Jackson died. I feel bad for his family but I don’t have anything beyond that to say. Too many people are doing the obituary column for him and I don’t have that in me.

It’s odd to think Sin City was nearly 10 years ago, filmed at the same time (and in the same area) as A Scanner Darkly. Both were shot in Austin though Linklater’s film took longer to release. It was something unique that Austin had two high profile casts of two high profile films at the same time that utilized two interesting techniques in film-making. And it’s wild to think how the genre of comic book/graphic novel films have changed, especially in light of how they appeared to be going at the time.

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Sin City was one of the handful of films that came out during the first wave of films being made with green screen technology. Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow changed the way films were made in America because of how evocative you could make a cinematic world with a handful of computer programmers and graphic designers. It had always been a told to enhance a story using practical effects, like how it was used in Titanic and Jurassic Park, but now it became a tool from which you could conjure things out of thin air.

The technology changed film forever, as now green screen and CGI are staples of movie-making after a certain dollar amount in budget, and Sin City in 2005 is really that watershed mark where the advent of CGI & green screen work crossed the line from tool to cinematic necessity. Now CGI and the like are now markedly part of every summer blockbuster without fail but for a while it was used in spurts. When filmmakers saw what was possible … people got creative and figured out how much more was possible.

The Star Wars prequels did the same as well, on a much larger scale, but that whole year was the first big wave of animation becoming an integral part of film. It also marked an interesting tone shift in the genre of the comic book/graphic novel film that never came to the fruition that many thought it would.

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The genre as a whole was getting darker, marked by people wanting to ape Batman Begins and Nolan’s take on the caped crusader. For a while it looked like the genre as a whole was going in a much more adult manner, aiming for dark tones as opposed to the goofiness that marked the genre as a whole ever since Superman. It’s the one thing that watching everything from before Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man; it felt like the work of people who really didn’t take the material all that seriously in retrospect.

Sin City was an oddball and we all thought back then that it could be a sign of where the genre was headed. With The Dark Knight in 2008 the genre looked like the general tone was shifting, slowly but surely. But here’s the thing. It didn’t. Why? Iron Man happened.

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Success breeds imitation and Iron Man was such a tone shifter that the whole genre reflects that film. Going dark is something you do if needed and everyone’s avoiding that Nolan level shift when it comes to the genre. Nearly ten years removed and Sin City feels more like an oddity than the shape of things to come, which is what I (and a lot of others) thought was the new wave of superheroes in cinema.

It’s why A Dame to Kill For is interesting on some level. This is where we thought the genre was heading and yet … that wave of film-making never happened.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

I watched Tony Jaa’s return of action films and it was awful. Read about it here.

Mike Noyes reviewed a Batman animated film here.

Let’s Be Cops wasn’t completely awful. Might’ve been the best of a fairly terrible weekend, too. Reviewed here.

I watched The Expendables 3 and was profoundly disappointed. Sometimes the phrase “raging dumpster fire of a film” is the only appropriate thing to say.

The Railway Man wasn’t bad … Colin Firth is solid but this is a fairly pedestrian film. Review here.

And now on MMC … an underrated scene from an underrated film.

Such an interesting scene in terms of what both guys are doing, and what they think each other is doing. Reacher (Tom Cruise) has done this enough that he’s kind of resigned to this. His opponent thinks it’s a sign of weakness and gets cocky from it. It’s one of those character moments from Cruise that don’t get talked about often enough; it’s about the little things you have to look for, not the big ones that are obvious, that give us a real insight into the character.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – Sin City

I remember reviewing this in theaters way back when and with the arrival of the long awaited sequel I thought it’d be fun to dive into my movie collection and watch this again.

It’s a film that has aged well … but there’s still gaping cracks in it that are noticeable all these years later. It’s still an enjoyable film … but it’s much more campy than pulpy on occasion. Still recommended, but maybe not as highly as it was eons ago.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – The long awaited sequel to Sin City, apparently with a new story by Frank Miller.

See It – Early reviews are solid, as is worth of mouth. Usually that’s a good sign.

If I Stay – Everyone’s dead bu Chloe Moretz, who’s in a coma. She gets to evaluate her life and the circumstances that led the music prodigy to have to choose between her bad boy boyfriend and Julliard.

See it – Moretz so far has picked a lot of really good individual projects and this looks like another one.

When the Game Stands Tall – A sports biopic about the end of De La Salle’s epic high school football win streak.

Skip It – This’ll wind up being one of those films that makes for a better documentary than a biopic, I think.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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