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MOVIE vs. COMIC: Frank Miller's Sin City
Years ago I chanced upon the first six Sin City comics in mint condition from a thrift store that had no idea what it had in its possession given they sold me the entire set for a whopping five bucks. I am thrilled today to be sharing my comparison of Frank Miller’s A Dame To Kill For graphic novel series to the 2014 release of Sin City 2 with SHOWSOTROS.
Sin City 1 of 6
Our story begins like a classic film noir with that first person narration known to the genre. Our main character is Dwight McCarthy, played by Josh Brolin in the film. We first see him at work photographing an adulterous affair. Immediately you feel sorry for the cheating husband as he lists off all the reasons we should pity him, least of which is seeing him naked on page 6. Miller has a knack for drawing the grotesque (funny that in the movie this character is actually played brilliantly by Ray Liota who is far from hideous). It all flips on a dime however as a gun is turned on the mistress who looks on in terror. Then crash goes our snooping hero to not kill but slightly harm the offender and return this prostitute to "Old Town," essentially the Mos Eisley Cantina of this world.
After this dirty job is over Dwight gets contacted by the woman from his past, Ava. In Dwight's own words he explains, "I should tell her to go to hell. Instead I give myself a shave I don’t need and I show up twenty minutes early." His destination is Club Pecos, known to be a rough joint where we get our first glimpse of Marvin, played by Mickey Rourke in the film and described as being, "Seven Feet Plus of Muscle and Mayhem." By page 26 we get a beautiful black silhouette of Ava, played by Eva Greenin the film. From there it's the predictable she-did-him-wrong story where she's looking for forgiveness over an old slight and he can't muster the courage to do so, nor wants to. As she drives off in the distance Marvin mutters that she is a dame to kill for and thus the title of the comic.
Above: Frank Miller's exquisite artwork is perfectly translated to the film.
Sin City 2 of 6
At points the artwork is so expressionistic you can barely tell you are looking at a human form but thus is the way of Miller and this is why we love him so. Dwight goes to find out why Ava mysteriously showed back up in his life only to get attacked by her body guard Manute, played by Dennis Haysbert in the film. This doesn't stop Ava from driving back to Dwight's place where they then hook up and Dwight is summarily beaten by Manute again, thus concludes 2 of 6.
Sin City 3 of 6
Dwight comes to—and we find ourselves back in—Club Pecos where we see Nancy for the first time (played by Jessica Alba in the film). Dwight is here to get help from Marvin who proceeds to crack the hand of a man who dares call the bartender a cow. **Spoiler Alert** [Highlight following text to read.]
Classic Black Widow story.
Sin City 4 of 6
After becoming a victim to this double cross Dwight manages to escape Ava's gun shot blasts thanks to Marvin. They make their way down to Old Town to seek aid. Meanwhile Ava seduces a married cop, Mort, played by Christopher Meloni in the film, who is investigating the murder of Ava's husband.
Sin City 5 of 6
This is where we first see Gail, played by Rosario Dawson in the film. This is where Dwight goes to get patched up and recoup before devising his next step. Meanwhile Ava continues to abuse her sexuality by persuading Mort into murdering Dwight; a predictable plot twist for this type of tale. Honestly it has all the makings of a good film noir story but not nearly as much edge as That Yellow Bastard which became the first story told in the film franchise.
Sin City 6 of 6
The old town girls along with Marvin and Dwight infiltrate the Ava estate. You know it's about to get real. Without giving any more spoilers you can only imagine that vengeance comes sweet and succinct, thus concludes another Sin City tale.
As far as film comparisons go the movie starts differently right away with a little flashback vignette of Marvin that brings you into the Sin City world. Powers Boothe returns as Senator Roarke. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Johnny, a gambler who gets caught up with Boothe in a subplot. Bruce Willis also reprises his role as Hartigan in the afterlife. When we finally see Ava she is a devil in a blue dress, a point of which was not made in the comic but is a clever wink to the genre. Rourke also brings a bit of comedic relief to his interpretation of Marvin.
For some reason films make inexplicable and unnecessary changes to the comics (Watchmen immediately comes to mind). For some reason Ava doesn't throw a bomb, it's left to Gail. While the comic itself ends on a powerful note in the film, we are then taken back to the Gordon-Levitt subplot where we next see Christopher Lloyd playing the part of Dr. Kroenig. It's only one scene but he milks it. We also have another fun but brief bit part for Lady Gaga as a waitress named Bertha. Gordon-Levitt doesn't end well though and the whole subplot just isn't that interesting. Then we move on to something of a sequel, following up on Nancy and Marvin's plan to avenge Hartigan.
Above: If you didn't read the comic, you are expecting a sequel to the first film ,and Nancy gives us just that.
The one thing that really strikes me about this film is the gratuitous beheading. It's hard to believe that a film could be more violent than the comic, but it is, and I can't say that it really adds anything to the story. It seems to be suffering from Kill Bill-itus, that is an over abundance of samurai sword decapitation. However, if you are a fan of Robert Rodriguez this is still a must-see movie.
Above: Like That Yellow Bastard before him the makeup job done on Herr Wallenquist is amazing!
Overall, the one thing that really struck me about Sin City was the artwork and the film fortunately does capture the expressionistic qualities of the comics. The movie is great and I'd watch it again. I think I actually liked it better than the first installment!