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Frank Miller

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For * Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez (2014)

In 2005 “Sin City” blew me away. The author of the comics joined action-director Rodriguez to make one of the most originally filmed films ever; a film that looks like an comic. High contrast black and white with only here and there colour, shots that would have never been used that way in a ‘normal’ film, but that are very recognisable for a comic. Miller performed the same trick later with “The Spirit” (2008) and Russel Mullcay copied the style with “Give ’em Hell Malone” (2009). So what would the original creators of ‘the style’ do 9 years later?

Of course the novelty is gone, so there are little surprises in “A Dame To Kill For”. Many characters are the same, the story is roughly comparable to the first film. All known elements are there. Over-the-top violence, beautifull women-with-guns, comic-action, stories that run through (or next to) eachother, etc. “A Dame To Kill For” is again entertaining, but if you have not yet seen the original, I suggest you first watch that one. When you, like me, have known the other titles for long, “A Dame To Kill For” is a nice for-old-times-sake film.

The Spirit * Frank Miller (2008)

Both the box and the story are much alike the magnificent “Sin City“, “the creators” are the same, but strangely enough, this time it is Frank Miller who does the “Sin City” comic who puts somebody else’s comic to film. Since “Sin City” 2 and 3 are in the make, I wondered why Frank Miller would make another such film and if it woud be as good. Well, “The Spirit” is again a great watch! It has a bit of the “Sin City” style but “Sin City” is more shot like you would see a comic with different perspectives and more contrast. A superhero cop hunts for “the octopus” (the greatest part of Samuel L. Jackson since “Pulp Fiction”) and his assistent (Scarlett Johansson is an unusual part) who of course has bad plans for the world. A slightly thin story backs some great fighting scenes, wonderfull humour and magnificent visuals. The novelty may be gone, but if you like “Sin City”, you will like “The Spirit” as well.

(Frank Miller’s) Sin City * Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (2005)

Sin CityWhen I heard about this film I immediately wanted to see it. It was out of the cinemas before I knew it and we are still waiting for the DVD release. Good that a friend has an import!
I suppose you heard all about the film, if you haven’t seen it yet. One thing is certain, I had high expectations of the film, but it is even better than I hoped! The film is an adaptation of Frank Miller’s own comic. I didn’t know about this, but this man made more films out of comics. Also I don’t know the comic, but that isn’t needed to enjoy this film. Quentin Tarantino is guest director by the way.
I thought that “Sin City” was a film with comic-elements, such as in “The Hulk” (which I haven’t seen), but this isn’t really the case. The film is actually shot the way one would make a comic and this really shows. This makes it obvious that a film and a comic are made from completely different viewpoints (both literally and as a manner of speaking). A comic has a ‘hero’ with his face right in the camera talking, a very simple shot of a driving car, shots in which a lot of perspective is put, surreal stages and characters with very distictive features such as a grim man with a square face or a woman with a superb body and a very outspoken haircut. It is really nice to see this made into a film.
Sin City is a dark city where corruption is the rule. The film consists of three storylines that here and there cross eachother. They go over in eachother abruptly which made me rather confused about whether or not the characters are the same or if the stories have something to do with eachother. In the first story “Hartigan” (Bruce Willis) is the only clean cop left in town. He wants to save an 11-year old girl from the hands of a cannibalistic maniac, but runs right into a massive corruption scandal and lands in jail. Then almost unnoticed we go to the story of the grim and hard-to-kill walking tank “Marv” (Mickey Rourke) who falls in love with a woman who gets killed while he was laying in bed with her, so he has to hunt supernatural enemies and eventually the most powerfull man of Sin City in order to get revenge; this is definately the most ‘comical’ part of the film with flying persons and weird characters. Then we have the story of ‘the old town’ where the police left the maintaining of the order to the beautiful prostitutes-warriors of the old town; a man named Dwight ends up in old town and a cop gets killed, which is a serious problem so he has to get rid off the bodies; this results very surreal scenes and stories. All the sudden we are back with Hartigan, is he the other characters? Did he dream the other two stories while in the hospital? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter.
Shot is moody black and with with great ‘comical’ high contrasts here and there. Only four colours are filled in: red, green, blue and yellow adding to the atmosphere. “Sin City” truely is a great visual experience with uncommon stories, viewpoints, special effects, etc. Nicely dark, sometimes pretty grim and bloody/extreme with a descent sense of humour. The total atmosphere and (as far as I know) sheer originality of the film really makes it by far the best film that I have seen in recent times!

300 * Zack Snyder * 2006

Another graphic novel of Frank Miller put to film, but however this brings too easy comparisons with “Sin City”, don’t let yourself be fooled by that. “300” Is not a visual comic, but a film with actors and indeed most of the scenes come out of a computer, but they do (fortunately) look nothing like “Sin City”. “300” Has risen some discussions. Is it just a spectacular semi-historical action film like “Gladiator”? Is it a glorification of violence? Is it the glorification of the ancient warrior ethos? There are even people seeing political layers, where a Western elite fights an invading power. For some reason Iran has chosen to identify itself with a gayish Xerxes that organises orgies and who in fact ‘represents’ the pre-Islamitic religion of Persia, but apparently, when things can be turned to their use, they will complain. In any case, “300” indeed is a glorification of the ancient warrior ethos in my opinion. The king Leonidas is shown in a boyhood and the violent initiation into the world of the soldier is shown (not completely unlike the ancient reality I might add). The Spartans are shown as the elite warrior troop from Greece and only 300 raise against the millions (a minor exaggeration) of Persians that come to invade Greece. The Persians have all kinds of monsters to reach their goal, but the supreme technique of the Spartans make that they withstand almost any attack. The fighthing scenes are shown in a Matrix-like fashion with irritating fast-slow-fast-slow shifts, but spectacular (and bloody) computer graphics and the Spartan übermenschen are shown in all their glory. Politically incorrect? Perhaps. Most people will watch “300” as a spectacular fighting film, some may look for more behind it or connect the film to current tendencies, it is just what you make of it. I don’t know if the makers had a message and actually I don’t care. “300” Is an alright film that is well put together, but in the end, it is just another action film with an original twist. <15/4/07><3>