[Contains unnervingly toy-like CGI cop cars and SPOILERS!!!]
As inspiration for a script I’m working on, I decided to revisit Robert Rodriguez’s “translation” of Frank Miller’s Sin City comic book series (2005)… but, being a geek, I held out for the 2-disc “recut and extended” edition, which separates the four stories into individual episodes, with some additional “unseen” footage spliced in. To be honest, I hadn’t watched the original version since it was released at the cinema nearly a decade ago, so I had no idea which shots/scenes were new, and which weren’t… but overall, I thought this was a much better way to present the material, and doubt I’ll ever bother watching the theatrical cut again. The only complaint I have is that “The Customer Is Always Right (Part II)” should really be the epilogue to “The Big Fat Kill”, rather than coming straight after “The Customer Is Always Right (Part I)”, where it loses a lot of its power and makes no sense, story-wise.
At the time, some critics were quite harsh on the flick, claiming that it lacked “humanity”… but I actually found the hard-boiled heroes’ struggles to avenge/defend the women they loved quite moving, in an overblown, pulpy sort of way. I don’t mind admitting I got a little damp around the eyes during some of the scenes between Hartigan and Nancy (in both her older and younger incarnations). Normally I’m quite sensitive to sexism and misogyny (which this movie was also accused of), but I can’t say it ever bothered me here… largely because the world of Sin City is so absurdly exaggerated, to the point that logic and the laws of physics rarely apply, it’s hard to take anything that happens there very seriously at all. I was far more offended by Rian Johnson’s Brick, which combined an old-timey “film noir” sensibility with a modern, semi-realistic setting, without updating the gender politics at all. At least here the women are imbued with enviable traits and the ability to defend themselves (to some extent)… they aren’t simply depicted as dead victims and duplicitous vixens!
As I say, I really warmed to ‘Nancy’, played by Jessica Alba as an adult, and Makenzie Vega as a child… obviously she’s stuck with the “damsel in distress” role here, but as damsels go she’s an admirably brave and feisty one, bless her. My second fave female character would probably have to be ‘Becky’, played by Alexis Bledel… even though she’s a turncoat with terrible judgement, Bledel brings so much charm and heart to the role, I still feel a little sorry for her in the end. The most unabashedly kick-ass action chick here is ‘Miho’, and there’s no doubt that Devon Aoki looks fantastic dishing out cold, steely death from above… but because she’s totally mute and largely expressionless, it’s a little hard to warm to her as a character (no matter how much Miller raves about her on the commentary track!). Fun fact: Miho’s swords are Hattori Hanzō-crafted katanas, straight out of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (and QT’s garage). I think the coolest looking character, costume-wise, has to be ‘Dallas’ (played by Patricia Vonne), in her Zorro get-up. I actually bought a CD of Vonne’s music a couple of years back (Guitars And Castanets), completely unaware of her connection to R-Rod… besides touring as a member of the band Tito & Tarantula, who’ve soundtracked several of his movies, she also happens to be the dude’s sister!
And the list of great and gorgeous supporting actresses just goes on and on… Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino, Jaime King, Brittany Murphy (RIP), Marley Shelton, and Lisa Marie Newmyer all get a chance to shine here. R-Rod’s “film everyone against a green-screen, then edit the layers together later” approach allowed him to assemble an absolutely killer cast-list… and it looks like he’s pulled off the same “trick” for the upcoming sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which should be hitting American theatres sometime around August.
In other, unrelated R-Rod news, his shiny new El Rey channel has just released an official trailer for their From Dusk ‘Till Dawn TV spin-off, which premieres on March 11, 2014. The series promises to “explore and expand on the characters and story from the film, providing a wider scope and richer Aztec mythology”… which would’ve been pretty awesome if they could’ve kept the original actors, rather than casting a bunch of young catalogue models to do second-rate impersonations of them. Meh. On the other hand, casting pretty much anyone other than Juliette Lewis as the naïve young preacher’s daughter is definitely a step-up!