Tag Archives: Josh Brolin

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

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With Marvel and DC comics competing with movie renditions of graphic novels, it’s easy to forget that there are more than two publishers. Dark Horse is responsible for bringing Frank Miller’s Sin City series into print and in 2005, the a few of the stories were brought to the big screen. The movie was received well enough to merit a sequel almost 9 years later. A Dame to Kill For brought back several familiar faces such as Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke to reprise their roles but also brought in new actors. The nice thing about Sin City 2 was that Frank Miller was able to write new stories exclusively for the movie so fans of the graphic novel would be able to watch something fresh.

Just like the first Sin City, A Dame to Kill for was split into a few segments with the main story in the middle. The visual black and white style from the first movie was kept for the sequel although there was a lot more use of “highlighted” colors in this one. For the most part, the movie stayed true to its printed origins. Although it was a nice touch for those that had actually read the stories and recognized the panels from the graphic novels, it turned into a problem in some instances.

Because the movie is split into segments that contain distinct and sometimes exclusive characters, the following overview will also be split into segments.

JUST ANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT

The opening segment of A Dame to Kill For and presumable a small setup to show moviegoers what they were in for. In this story Marv (Mickey Rourke) wakes from a car crash to find the bodies of several young men around him. Due to a certain condition that he has, he isn’t able to recall what events led to him and he begins to retrace his steps.

Just like in the first Sin City movie Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller don’t skimp out on the violence of this segment. The fights that ensue as Marv tries to recall his memory are done fairly well although a little confusing. It’s a nice taste of what A Dame to Kill For is going to bring but it’s far from being engaging. Mickey Rourke, just like in the first movie, does an excellent job at playing Marv throughout the entirety of the movie. The real problem that arises from this segment is the whole “recalling” portion of the movie. Marv spends a nice chunk of time remembering what happened through the use of voice over narration and despite the nice little effects used to sort of ease the viewer, it was pretty boring to watch.

A DAME TO KILL FOR

The main story in this movie was dedicated to this one. Personally, when I read this graphic novel I wasn’t to impressed with the story. Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) is a private detective who gets an unexpected plea from help from his ex lover Ava Lord (Eva Green). She coaxes Dwight to help her escape from her crazy husband Damian Lord (Marton Csokas) but before he can help he also has to get through Damian’s monstrous chauffeur Manute (Dennis Haysbert) as well as some police officers that are caught by Ava Lord’s seduction.

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Clive Owen (left) and Josh Brolin (right) next to the novel’s rendition of Dwight

Due to the nature of the timeline of Dwight’s character, Josh Brolin was brought on board to replace Clive Owen.  In the graphic novel it is explained that McCarthy had to go through some reconstructive facial surgeries so it makes sense as to why Brolin was cast instead. His performance as Dwight wasn’t bad at all although it still bothers me that they didn’t bring in Clive Owen to play as McCarthy after the surgeries. Without that little detail it’s tough to even relate the characters from both movies let alone realize that they’re the same exact character. Eva Green also had a wonderful performance although her costume designs also helped sell the sleazy and manipulative Ava Lord. Despite this Eva Green might not have been the best actress for the role. She was certainly eye catching but there are several other actresses that might have fit the character a lot better. Manute is another major character in the Sin City universe and due to the death of Michael Clarke Duncan, Dennis Haysbert was brought on board to replace him. His acting was a little flat but Manute is a character that is better off being seen than heard and Haysbert didn’t do too bad.

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Manute: Michael Clarke Duncan (left), Dennis Haysbert (right)

Overall, A Dame to Kill For followed the graphic novel almost perfectly and that’s part of the why it wasn’t as interesting as it ought to have been. In comic book panels there are certain things that an author can get away with, one of these is when a character talks or thinks to himself. In this portion of the movie there was a lot of voice over narration that considerably slowed down the movie. Sure it was in the comic books but these voice over narrations were long enough to drag the viewer at out of the story. At one point it felt like I was just watching an audio book. The action that eventually took place on screen ended up being pretty campy (good for some people, bad for others). For a story line that was supposed to be the largest chunk of the movie, A Dame to Kill For was surprisingly underwhelming.

THE LONG BAD NIGHT

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The Long Bad Night is about a Johnny, a cocky and extremely lucky gambler, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who walks into the infamous Basin City in order to beat Senator Roark (Powers Booth) at a game of cards. When the Johnny humiliates Roark in front of his colleagues, he doesn’t take to kindly toward the young gambler and teaches him that trying to beat a Roark at his own game is dangerous.

Having seen Gordon-Levitt in movies like (500) Days of Summer or comedies such as That 70’s Show, its tough to picture him in a movie like Sin City but he pulls it off extremely well. Roles like this one make me believe that Gordon-Levitt is one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood as of now. Powers Booth who reprises his role as Senator Roark also does a terrific job at portraying one of the most feared and respected men in Basin City. The tense moments that these two have on screen coupled with the peculiar story easily make this the best part of Sin City 2 despite the fact that there’s very limited violence in comparison with the rest of the film. If that wasn’t enough it was also entertaining to see Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Roger Rabbit) have a small part as well as a surprisingly well executed cameo from Lady Gaga.

NANCY’S LAST DANCE

Yet another original story by Frank Miller that gives some closure to the story of Nancy Callahan. Years after the suicide of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Nancy (Jessica Alba) tries her best to get over his death and deal with her depression. She decides that her best bet to get over Hartigan’s death is to kill Senator Roark (Powers Booth).

Nancy’s Last Dance might just be the second strongest story in the whole film. As a fan of the graphic novel, I was excited to finally get an ending to Nancy’s story in Sin City. I haven’t seen all of Jessica Alba’s movies but from what I can gather, this might have been one of her better acting performances. Her desperation and depression come across clearly and the build up to a showdown with Roark is engaging enough to keep the viewer’s attention. There were some strange things in this segment such as the whole ghost thing (Sixth Sense anyone?) but overall it was decent enough of a story that included minimal voice over narration.

Nancy Callahan and Marv

Nancy Callahan and Marv

One of the first rules of screenwriting that are taught is to never use voice over narration. Many successful movies have ignored this rule without much backlash but unfortunately Sin City 2 is not one of those examples. The movie overall is passable. Fans of the graphic novel may appreciate the new stories but the VO narration seems like overkill throughout many parts of the movie and frankly, it makes it a chore to watch. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller did a great job with the first Sin City but the sequel seemed to be missing a lot of the gruesome story and brutal action that made the first one so good. Every actor did a good job at playing their role but it still felt like the casting of the new characters left a lot to be desired.

TL;DR: There are very few reasons to watch this on the big screen (i.e. Jessica Alba, The Long Bad Night). With the side stories being a lot more entertaining than the main one, its hard to imagine that we’ll be getting another Sin City movie any time soon.

Rock-It Raccoon Rating: 5.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%

IMDB: 7.2/10

MetaCritic: 45/100

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

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Guardians of the Galaxy may just be the most obscure comic book title that Marvel has brought to the big screen. This particular movie is based on a 2008 rendition of the comics, as opposed to its original 1969 cast. The plot introduces the main members of the Guardians of the Galaxy as they learn to work together in order to stop Ronan (Lee Pace) from destroying the planet Xandar. Although it may sound like any old comic book story, Guardians of the Galaxy introduces some very important things into the Marvel Universe (more on this later).

A big part of what made Guardians of the Galaxy such an entertaining movie was how perfectly each cast member was able to fit into their role. Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec, The Lego Movie) had the job of carrying a good portion of the film as he played Jason Quill, the immature outlaw. Quill is a character who can only be compared to a young Han Solo with a more impulsive personality. The death of his mother that is shown at the very start of the film seemed like a cheap way to give his character depth but Pratt’s performance as Quill really make you root for him immediately. Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), also fit the role of deadly assassin perfectly although she had a more discreet performance in comparison to other cast members. Vin Diesel who played Groot also deserves credit for bringing the tree creature to life although it seems like he really hit the jackpot since all he had to do was repeat one line. Dave Bautista, Drax in the movie, is probably the actor whose performance surprised me the most. Known more for his years wrestling in the WWE, Bautista seemed like the perfect fit for Drax the destroyer but it wasn’t just the muscle that made him a stand out performer. The wrestler was able to show moments of emotion beneath the muscle-bound exterior of Drax as well as delivering various jokes in the film. No movie would be complete without its villains and the two main antagonists Ronan and Yondu did an excellent job. Lee Pace (The Hobbit, Lincoln) did an excellent job at playing Ronan the Accuser, his lack of emotion and emphasis on brutality made him seem like a villain who you would want to avoid. Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead, Jumper) also did an excellent job even though it seemed he was essentially reprising his role as a space version of Merle from the Walking Dead.

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Rocket in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. To his right is Nova, another character that may make his debut in future Marvel movies

Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, Hangover) as the Rocket Raccoon was probably the most controversial casting of all. Although Cooper brought certain star power to the role, there are several other actors that had played him before in both video games and television shows. When Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced, rumors of who would voice Rocket included talented voice actors such as Seth Green (Mass Effect, Robot Chicken), John DiMaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time), Nolan North (Deadpool, Uncharted) who had voiced the character before. These names paled in comparison to the fan favorite, Greg Ellis(Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit), who had given the mastermind raccoon some popularity through his portrayal in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. When it was finally decided that Bradley Cooper would fill the role, there was a lot of skepticism of what would happen to the character’s trademark cockney accent. The voice was ultimately changed to a more “street” version as opposed to cockney but the actor was able to surpass everyone’s expectations. Cooper was able to voice the character’s anger issues and intelligence while also being able to show the character’s soft side when it was necessary. In a lot of ways, Rocket Raccoon is the heart of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Bradley Cooper was able to play the role perfectly.

One of the things that stood out during the initial trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy was Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” track. Such and old song like that immediately stands out in a science fiction movie like GotG but it was done so well that it actually added to the identity of the movie. The soundtrack is actually one of the key belongings of Peter “Star Lord” Quill that was given to him by his dying mother. “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” is a set of nostalgic songs from the 80’s that reminds us that although Quill is in space fighting aliens and having adventures, he’s still human. Every song is out of place in the futuristic world of Guardians and at times it is even addressed directly in humorous ways. Love it or hate it, the list of tracks is a very significant factor that sets the tone of the scenes they are played in.

I’ll go ahead and say right now that I’m not the biggest fan of CGI in movies but I didn’t mind it so much in this movie. James Gunn, the director, uses a lot of CGI graphics to make characters like Groot and Rocket as well as the exotic locations within the film. To my relief all of the graphics were done extremely well and every scene was paced really well for the most part. There was no shortage of laughter or action throughout the whole movie which made it easier and more enjoyable to watch. Apart from a few shots that seemed to be catering to a 3D audience, the world of GotG was created beautifully.

SPOILERS OF VARYING WEIGHTS AHEAD~

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The Infinity Gauntlet

With the introduction to this colorful cast of characters, it is easy to forget that this is still a story that is happening within the Marvel Universe. There are several ways that Marvel could use GotG to link itself to other super hero universes but there are two main things that stood out to my basic knowledge of comic books. The first is that there are several “Guardians” that were not mentioned in the movie. One of these characters is Cosmo the telepathic dog, who actually appears within the film in the after credits scene. The other t has been a Guardian in the past should be familiar since it is none other than Iron Man. This is the part when you start to realize how close Marvel is at making a cross over movie between Guardians and Avengers.

The second and most sure fire way that Guardians is connected to the rest of the Marvel Universe is through the reveal of the Infinity Gems and the villain Thanos. Infinity Gems are extremely powerful stones that are able to give its wielder an enormous amount of power. These gems can all be wielded together through the use of the Infinity Gauntlet which also happens to be the major plot point of a mini series by the name of Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet in which Thanos (who is played by Josh Brolin in the film) tries to collect all of stones. If this isn’t enough proof of a Guardians/Avengers crossover then it’s also worth mentioning that the Tesseract from the first Avengers movie also happens to be an Infinity Stone. Adding to all of this is the fact that the Infinity Gem ends up being taken by the Nova Corps at the end of the movie which may potentially open up the way for Richard Rider, AKA Nova, in the future.

END SPOILERS~

All in all, I am excited for what Marvel has in store for its upcoming movies. Guardians of the Galaxy is an extremely solid film that showcases James Gunn’s skill in directing as well as a superb performance from all of the cast members involved. The soundtrack is an amazing throwback that adds some personality to the film. It’s also worth mentioning that there never seemed to be a dull moment in the film. Guardians of the Galaxy is a must-watch movie for any fan of the Marvel Universe.

TL;DR: Solid Summer movie and a must watch for any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Rockit Raccoon Rating: 9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

IMDB: 8.8

MetaCritic: 76/100

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