Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the first trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For from the directing team of Robert Rodriguez (Machete Kills, Spy Kids) and Frank Miller (The Spirit).
DRU: I guess there’s comfort in getting exactly what you expect, which explains why McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are so popular. But it also doesn’t hurt to mix things up a bit, which is exactly what the filmmakers behind sequels-to-successful-Frank Miller-film-adaptations-from-last-decade-with-Eva Green-in-them are intent on not doing. The early reviews of 300: Rise of an Empire all emphasize its overwhelming sameness compared to its predecessor, and I can’t help but think the same about this trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. This is a film that a lot of people have been waiting for for a long time — I remember hearing questions about when it would come out at a Rodriguez event at San Diego Comic-Con the same year in 2009 — but now that I see the trailer, I can’t help but feel a bit indifferent.
We’ve got some familiar faces here. Jessica Alba is back as Nancy, dealing with the fallout from Sin City in the narrative that has been most intrigued; they convinced Mickey Rourke to come back to the make-up chair again to play Marv, and it’s nice to hear his gruff voice-over delivery hasn’t changed a bit in nearly ten years. There are some new faces that seem like they could have been in Sin City all along: most notably Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stacy Keach, and the aforementioned Eva Green as the titular Dame to Kill For. They couldn’t have done any better than Green for that role, and her presence is more than enough for me to consider my ticket bought.
That said, Rodriguez and Miller are both on huge downward career spirals, and that doesn’t bode well for the quality of this movie. Rodriguez’s last movie—a terrible sequel to the pretty entertaining Machete—doesn’t indicate to me that he still “has it,” and based on recent Miller works like Holy Terror and his only solo directorial outing, The Spirit, he has not only “lost it,” “it” is long gone. Two of the segments here—the ones starring JGL and Alba, specifically—are not based on any pre-existing Sin City comics, but were rather written specifically for the film… which is to say that Miller wrote them recently. Consider me frightened.
The larger question is, are we interested in sequels that merely do “more of the same,” or do we expect/demand more?
JAMES: Y’know the old saying “strike while the iron is hot”? I’m not entirely sure that Rodriguez (or the producers of 302 Spartans) has heard it. As you say, it’s been nearly a decade since Sin City‘s release and the time and desire for a sequel has long since passed. I remember being really enamoured with the original film upon its release, but I’ve not seen it recently and after seeing the trailer for A Dame to Kill For (which is a great title, by the way), I’m not sure what to expect when I do revisit it—which is to say I fear it might not have aged so well. I’m also cautious because of Rodriguez’s and Miller’s respective track records as of late (a quick scan reveals I actually like very few of either’s works).
That said, like you, Dru, my ticket was already purchased with the addition of Green, who constantly impresses me with her performances whether its in The Dreamers, Kingdom of Heaven, or Casino Royale (hey, those are all good movies!).
To address your larger question, I think it depends on the genre and the film that is getting a sequel. Prestigious fare like, say The Godfather, can’t simply offer more of the same and expect the same recognition. Yet, I only want more of the same from something like Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear (which is also terrific) because it’s a B movie through-and-through, and anything more would ring false. Now, what do I want from a Sin City sequel? Basically, I want it to not be a slapdash production that coasts on the goodwill of its predecessor—which is exactly the vibe I get from this trailer. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original, but this looks like a cheap knock-off more suited to the bins of $5 direct-to-DVD sequels that occupy every Target, Walmart, and Superstore.
Dave, your thoughts?
DAVE: I wish I could be the lone defender of this trailer, but I’m afraid I share your feelings. This is a film which is arriving at least eight years past when it should have come out, and no matter how much talent Rodriguez and Miller toss at audiences in this trailer, it is hard to work up any enthusiasm towards the film at all.
Will the film be terrible? Probably not. I’m sure it will deliver on what audiences expect, but it isn’t going to be push the genre or form any further than the original film did. If Rodriguez wanted to do that, he’d probably skip a Sin City sequel altogether and work with another noteworthy comic book auteur to bring their work to the screen. Granted, at this point in his career, he’d probably team up with Rob Liefeld and co-direct a Youngblood film, so perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky that we’re getting Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For opens on August 22, 2014.