A lot’s happened since Robert Rodriguez co-directed Sin City with Frank Miller. An early detour into 3D produced The Adventures Of Sharkboy And Lavagirl, before he and Quentin Tarantino embarked upon their ambitious Grindhouse. What did Grindhouse do to him? Diminished returns followed, including the poorly-received one-joke combo of Machete and Machete Kills, the madcap kids film Shorts and the indignity of a Spy Kids: All The Time In The World. Very quickly, Rodriguez went from one of the most exciting and idiosyncratic filmmakers in the world to a hot garbage-producing factory. By the time Rodriguez talked up a Sin City sequel, no one really cared that much, save for the actors who likely made verbal commitments to the director who still works fast, cheap, and gratefully with actors.

And so here we are with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. The sequel, slated for August 22nd release, continues the story strands of the first film with some original material from Miller, who returns to co-direct. William Monahan (The Departed) is also onboard to punch up the story, which derives material from the graphic novel of the same title. And now we have an official website which, predictably, has nothing much on it. It does offer us a taste of the cast, one that was seen on the last poster for the film. Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis are the returning cast members from the 2005 hit, which grossed $158 million worldwide.

Sadly, Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan are two cast members from the original film who have since passed away. Filling the latter’s shoes is Dennis Haysbert, while the role of Dwight has been recast with Josh Brolin taking Clive Owen’s place (there’s a complex, in-story plastic surgery reason for this). Other newcomers to the series include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Stacy Keach, Ray Liotta and Jeremy Piven. Several actors have been mentioned in conjunction with the project over the years, so it’s hard to tell which other actors will appear in the film, but Jamie Chung, Juno Temple, Christopher Meloni, Marton Csokas, Julia Garner and Machete Kills holdover Lady Gaga are also linked to roles.

The formerly-prolific Rodriguez has slowed in recent years, possibly due to outsized expectations for budgets versus the reality of the shrinking grosses. Trotting out the Spy Kids series resulted in the lowest grosses in that franchise’s run, and Machete Kills was a major black eye given the tragically low box office numbers. The El Mariachi filmmaker was once on the short-list for every major film in town, but now that his star has cooled, he finds himself re-teaming with Miller, himself something of a directorial pariah after his solo effort, The Spirit, tanked horribly. Rodriguez was talked up for projects like Red Sonja, The Jetsons and Barbarella, but unless A Dame To Kill For is a hit, he’ll soon find himself struggling to get work with the likes of Millennium Films, taking for-hire gigs on janky period pieces and affectless kids films that no one wants to see.

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