A Strange Preview: Sin City 2

I was under the impression that Sin City 1: A Ton ‘o Sin had not done that well at the BO, but it turns out that it made about $74M domestic and was generally well received critically. I saw it when it came out in 2005 and my reaction was one giant shrug—some fancy optics but no heart.

Enter Sin City 2: Really Skanky Sin. Co-directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Spy Kids, Terror Planet) and starring Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin and Eva Green and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jaimie King and Juno Temple and Jessica Alba and Christopher Meloni and Jeremy Piven and Ray Liotta and, last but not least, Lady Gaga, the sequel enjoys four plots and exhibits even more elaborate processing techniques that give the appearance of a black and white film but with color highlights, and that render live-action as virtually animated. (The first film won the Technical Grand Prize at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.)

Frank Miller is the comic book writer/artist who created the the Sin City world. His most famous titles also include 300, Ronin, Wolverine (1982 edition), Daredevil (1979 edition), and The Dark Knight Returns (1986 edition). He also created the character of Elektra (which also debuted as a film in 2005 and stunk up the joint). The first Sin City‘s production was both milestone-setting and controversial (see this from Rotten Tomatoes).

Miller has become infamous of late, earning the ire of other comic book artists/graphic novelists for, well, I’ll let Wiki say it:

Daredevil: Born Again and The Dark Knight Returns were both critical successes and influential on a new generation of creators. Batman: Year One was met with even greater praise for its gritty style. Works such as Ronin300 and Sin City were also very successful. However, fellow comic book writer Alan Moore has described Miller’s work from Sin City-onwards as homophobic and misogynistic, despite praising his early Batman and Daredevil work. Moore previously penned a flattering introduction to an early collected edition of The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, a sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, received mixed reviews, while All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder in particular consistently received harsh criticism and was hailed as a sign of Miller’s creative decline. The filmatization of 300 has been perceived as promoting fascist values, and as hate speech against disabled people.

Holy Terror has been criticized as anti-Islamic propaganda. In addition, some of Miller’s works have been accused of lacking “humanity,” particularly in regard to the abundance of prostitutes portrayed in Sin City. In terms of his film work, Miller’s scripts for Robocop 2 and 3 were unsuccessful, while his 2008 film adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit met with largely negative reviews, earning a metascore of 30/100 at the review aggregation site Metacritic.com.

So there.

Given this perception of Miller (or at least “late” Miller) as a neo-fascist, I’m stunned to learn that he’s still making a living in Hollywood, where normally you’d have to be a rapist to earn that kind of generosity of spirit.

Perhaps the community is truly growing. Or perhaps nothing really matters more than money. Or perhaps Miller’s vision does not reflect the Group’s in all particulars, and so the name calling is just Stage One in the Bringing to Heel. (I don’t have an opinion about Miller, frankly, as I am not familiar with  his work except for that first Sin City film, which, as I noted, I did not care for. I have never read a single one of his books and have yet to see 300, which is now enjoying a sequel of its own, 301 or something like that, which opens tomorrow.)

Anyway, here’s the trailer.

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2 thoughts on “A Strange Preview: Sin City 2

  1. IMHO FWIW (I’ve learned to speak text!) I do have an opinion of Frank Miller. Feel free to borrow it if need be, much the way one often borrows something it isn’t worth the trouble to go out and get for yourself. And, should you choose to take my word for it, it really is NOT worth the trouble to acquire an opinion of Frank Miller.

    Sin City: Meh. Without Carla Gugino, I have no reason to watch the sequel. She is the only thing I remember about the first one.

    300: Stupid corruption of history. Paleo fascist/eugenecist Sparta holds itself out as defender of liberty and ideal of ancient Greek Civilisation. Hmpf. Homophobic?!?!? No, homoerotic. Lots of buff greeks in leather speedos fight African transvestites pretending to be Persians riding armored rhinos. Xerxes portrayed by RuPaul lookalike. My sons, both squarely in this movie’s target demographic, both Marines who have deployed to combat areas, both of whom have read a little history, hated it.

    The Spirit: Knew it was almost certain to be bad and watched it anyway. I’m not a Wil Eisner fan, but read some of his comics in preparation for seeing the movie, because I like that genre (i.e. early 20th Century “Super” heroes who are really ordinary guys wearing suits, and a small mask, who carry guns, and whose superness consists mainly of gadgets and mind games maybe one small talent. Think the Shadow and the Green Hornet). But the movie lived down to expectations. It had something to do with cloning and extraordinary healing ability, and Samuel L. Jackson playing an over the top bad guy. Also Scarlett Johanssen wearing slightly kinky vintage outfits, including an SS uniform with riding crop.

    Maybe Ms. Johanssen and Ms. Gugino are the examples of what critics mean by “misogynistic”. Basically, the portrayal of powerful women (especially bad girls) as super barbie dolls. As comic books have done for decades. Which is Frank Miller’s home genre. I was going to say “eureka”, but it all just seems so obvious.

    I don’t think I’ll be watching many more Frank Miller movies.

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