Sin City vs. The Spirit
I still don’t know what to call this series about films. I’m carrying on with it anyway. Here’s a sore point for me…
Why did Sin City get a sequel?
Actually I suppose my bigger question here is: what was Sin City‘s appeal? A decent cast of characters, a very slick but not entirely original cinematography style, and the direction wasn’t so bad all told, but all together it’s a very medium film. It did very well at the box office for 18 rated film, and has enjoyed success enough since 2005 to warrant a sequel nine years later.*
The story-lines kind of clunked together. They built up an interesting world but they never truly blend, and the script, while full of interesting metaphors and so on gets tired and monotonous all too quickly. With very few exceptions the characters are predictable, and putting on a permanent scowl is the acting equivalent of role-playing the lone-wolf cliché. Don’t get me wrong, I see the appeal, but I also see too many flaws and cut-corners to really enjoy what I’m watching.
A Dame To Kill For was far worse. Gone was the any trace of originality, the colour palette visuals had – by 2014 – been done to death, another all-star cast of wasted potential, not even Josh Brolin seemed to enjoy his own performance. Continuity was officially gone, and the horrible cameos by Mickey Rourke (reprising the role of Marv) only finished the bad job.
All in all, these two left me with a sour taste, especially because I waited to watch Sin City until I was no longer sick to death of being told to watch Sin City. I did the same with 300, and the less said about Watchmen, Lord of the Rings… y’know what, that’s another list altogether, I’ll leave that be for now. To coin a phrase, “Meh”. If this is what the mainstream has to offer you can keep it, I’m going back to my blu-ray collection, wake me up for the next Marvel instalment.
Why did everyone hate The Spirit?
Actually I do understand why some people would dislike it. The Spirit was released in 2008, three years after sin city, so it will have the strong appearance of a copy-cat film. But I am utterly lost as to why the highest rated review on IMDB describes a practically empty screening that ended up far emptier by the end of the film. There is a lot to love:
The cast is spectacular, but it sadly absorbed a lot of the budget, sets are minimal, and a lot of the effects are clearly stripped down, but not unwatchably so. The script apparently put a lot of people off, but it’s a difficult task to blend cheesy and originality, very early in the film, Samuel L. Jackson hits Gabriel Macht over the head with a toilet, then when Gabriel doesn’t laugh, he says “What? Toilets are always funny!” which is a moment that sets the tone of weirdly offbeat comedic action.
The characters are over the top from the excessive personalities to the bad-pun names, like Sand Saref the good-girl turned bad, or Plaster of Paris, the lunatic assassin belly-dancer. The whole thing is crowned by a glorious villains-monologue by Samuel L. Jackson, dressed as a nazi, backed up by his stone-faced cohort Scarlett Johansson. It wasn’t bad taste by this point, because the film has already set a president for clever/stupid. A black nazi suddenly becomes a rational step.
I’m not trying to defend The Spirit as a good film, but it has one major point in it’s favour. While watching Sin City, at no point do I feel as though the cast enjoyed making either films, but The Spirit almost feels like an actors playground. Every performance is a giggle, at no point is any part taken seriously because no part is serious. To compare the two seems almost unfair as they are so very divorced from one another except in colour style.
But they cannot help but be compared, two neo-noir films based on graphic novels. Even the art direction is the same when it comes to pacing, camera angles, environments. It should be hard not to discuss one without the other, but somehow The Spirit gets forgotten, and that seems unjust.
Please, somebody explain it to me. What has The Spirit done to be so slammed in the court of public opinion when worse films get accolades laid upon them. Give me your opinions in the comments below!
*Let it be known that the nine year gap between Sin City 1 and 2 makes the possibility of a Dredd Sequel with Karl Urban seem less dead in the water, and more sleeping under the ice. This makes me very hopeful.