The idea of watching Hollywood heavyweights slap on the spandex and beat the crap out of each other draws up levels of joy usually reserved for sniffing glue. Lucky for me, comic book movie adaptations have had summertime cinema in a death grip for the last decade or so. With Marvel Studio's plans for more movies extending until at least 2017 and Fox and Warner Brothers kicking around other adaptations, the trend shows no signs of letting up.
Capping off this year's swath of adaptations is "Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For," sequel to 2005's "Sin City" (sadly, no spandex here). Directed by creator of the original comic series Frank Miller along with Robert Rodriguez, I had reasonably high hopes that this flick wouldn't turn out to be the big ol' ball of crap it ended up as, but everything feels just that much more ham-fisted the second time around.
Broken up into three vignettes, only one -- "A Dame to Kill For" -- is actually based directly off a previously printed storyline, the other two written up by Miller for the movie. The highlight of these new secondary stories for me was getting to see Christopher Lloyd at his jangliest. I'd been walking around unconscious of the void in my soul until it was filled by seeing a close-up of Doc Brown shooting morphine and eating Popsicles.
So why didn't this sequel work? Before going in I gave the original comic a read, and its remarkable how much Miller and Rodriguez managed to convert directly from the page onto the screen. And honestly, I think that's ultimately what comes around to bite the movie in the ass. The action and dialogue all seem confined too strictly to the same presentation from the comics, so much so that I can't help but think a more open approach would've been easier to take in.
Everything on screen seems to be trying so hard to emulate the frames and the poses and the dialogue that Miller is used to offering up on the page. It might be the first comic book movie that comics too damn hard for its own good.
Other comic book movies that came out earlier this year seem to have tried to address this trickiness. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" did its best to branch out into a political thriller vein, and "Guardians of the Galaxy" capitalized on the fact that nobody in the audience knew who the hell the Guardians of the Galaxy are to build a universe set for a sweeping space opera. Both these flicks did enough genre-bending to make themselves stand out as good movies, not just good comic book movies.
There's a fine line between staying faithful enough to the source material to please fans, and being willing to build something new out of existing and set characters, and "Sin City 2" is on the wrong side.
In other comic book movie news, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who coincidentally stars in "Sin City 2") confirmed last week that he's working with the writing team behind Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy to try to adapt Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series into a feature film. I'm not alone in thinking it'd be better off given an HBO "Game of Thrones"-style treatment, but either way, here's hoping they don't turn Morpheus into a glittery, Twilight-infected shitbag.
Sam Nixon writes about all things nerd for the Colorado Daily on Wednesdays.