Why 'Sin City 2' is the 'perfect date movie'

Jessica Alba plays Nancy Callahan in Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. (Handout)

Jessica Alba plays Nancy Callahan in Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. (Handout)

Mark Daniell, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:43 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — It has been almost a decade since Robert Rodriguez changed the landscape of comic book movies with his stylized take on Frank Miller’s Sin City. Batman be damned, this was the first time characters fans only knew on the page actually popped in stark black and white on the big screen.

So when it came time for a follow-up — A Dame to Kill For — Rodriguez (who co-directed the film with Miller) decided to go all in.

“The first film, I looked at what we could do with green screen and digital for Frank’s book,” Rodriguez tells a roomful of journalists. “(With the first one) we went about a half-step between graphic novel and movie, and people really loved the feel of it ... This time we went ahead and pushed it further toward to the (comic) book. His graphic approach was just eye-popping, so we thought: ‘If they like that, let’s go all the way.’

“When people ask, ‘How did you update the look?’ We didn’t try to make it different from the first one; we wanted to make something closer to the source material. And doing it in 3D, I thought that would lend itself so much better to a graphic novel ... everything would pop a lot more” putting audiences inside the graphic novel.

“After working in comics (Miller wrote and drew Daredevil, Wolverine and Batman, among others) and working in Hollywood, I decided I would please myself and I would do the one comic book that couldn’t possibly be turned into a movie, and it ended up being Sin City,” Miller says. “Then this guy,” he adds pointing to Rodriguez, “showed up.”

Rodriguez’ Sin City update uses Miller’s 1993 mini-series A Dame to Kill For as its primary inspiration, but includes fan favourite Just Another Saturday Night. Miller also wrote two new stories for the film — The Long, Bad Night and Nancy’s Last Dance, in which Jessica Alba reprises her role from the original film — this time to avenge the death of her protector Hartigan (played by Bruce Willis).

“In the first film, she’s a victim,” Alba says. “So it was cool to take someone from this sweet, innocent, naive victim to this powerful warrior, who takes her life in her own hands and gets revenge.”

Later she adds: “This is a perfect date movie ... If a guy took me to see this movie, I would marry him for sure.”

“(Nancy) turns into something else,” Miller quips. “And I’ve already got her next chapter planned.”

In addition to Alba, the sequel brings back Mickey Rourke’s brute Marv; Rosario Dawson’s heartbroken Gail; Willis’ Hartigan; Jaime King’s Goldie/Wendy and Powers Boothe’s corrupt Senator Roark.

Newcomers entering the fray include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lady Gaga and Josh Brolin as Dwight — who was played in the original by Clive Owen.

“I’m a big proponent of taking someone and giving them a chance to do something different,” Rodriguez says, also namechecking Christopher Lloyd, who has a small part in the film.

“I was a big fan of the first movie, but this one is different,” Brolin says. “The opportunity to do (the sequel) was really unnerving. But I think this is next level. It’s one of those things I would go and see a few times if I weren’t in it,” he grins. “Because I’m in it, it would seem pretentious.”

Rodriguez also liked the idea of reuniting with some of his frequent collaborators.

“When you use the same actors a lot you get to know them and you realize that one movie can’t explore all the talent they have; you have to give them several different kinds of roles in various other movies to push them and push yourself.”

A Dame to Kill For is the central story in the film and focuses on the brutal romance between Dwight and the diabolical Ava Lord (Eva Green). Miller was inspired to continue Nancy’s storyline after he saw the first Sin City.

“After really loving the relationship between Jessica and Bruce, Frank was talking about this new story that he was inspired to do following what happens afterwards,” Rodriguez says. “That’s kind of a cool idea; people can’t go buy a book and know what’s going to happen, so I challenged him to come up with another idea.”

That resulted in the Gordon-Levitt storyline about a cocky gambler who crosses paths with the villainous Senator Roark.

“What (Gordon-Levitt) brought to the performance was a new and different kind of hero for Sin City,” Miller says.

Rourke’s Marv appears throughout the film dishing out his own brand of justice, including an opening scene (Just Another Saturday Night) in which he kills a bunch of frat kids after he catches them trying to burn a homeless man.

“It’s Sin City, he is considered a moral compass,” Rodriguez jokes.

Considering Hollywood’s propensity for churning out sequels at two-year intervals, it is surprising that A Dame to Kill For is hitting theatres this Friday — nine years after its predecessor. But with a cast this big, it took time to assemble the film’s cast and shoot around everyone’s schedule.

“If you can make it work with just a camera and the actors, then you know by the time all the sauce is on, all the pretty pictures, it will really work,” he says.

That suited Brolin fine, who enjoyed working for Rodriguez and Miller despite his hesitance about shooting entirely with green screen.

“With this cast, you just kind of jive,” he says. “There isn’t a lot of pretense ... and when you trust someone as much as I trust these two, I know I’m going to be taken care of, so you go that much further. It may be total manipulation, but it worked.”

Everyone seems keen to do a sequel and if there’s a Sin City 3 it will go into production fairly soon, the filmmakers say.

“We want to do it right away. If people come out to see this one, that’ll get us moving on another one ... We can go right into a third one and pick up right where we left off.”

“Not only can we go into a third one,” Miller adds, “it’s already a story in my head.”

Twitter: @markhdaniell

mark.daniell@sunmedia.ca


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