When Sin City hit theaters in 2005 there was nothing like it. Robert Rodriguez successfully brought Frank Miller’s neo-noir comic to the big screen with a highly stylized, atmospheric look consisting of stark black-and-white cinematography and splashes of bold color (mostly red). The star-studded cast had fun with a darkly comic script and if the result had more style than substance nobody minded because it was so damn cool.
Fast forward nine years and Miller/Rodriguez share a directing credit for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. A lot has changed in that time and if the the look of the film isn’t as revelatory as it’s predecessor, it’s still mighty impressive. The criminal underworld is more refined than the last go-around and though I’m not usually a fan, the 3D is used to good effect. Smoke lingers throughout the theater and the 3D snow is a nice touch.
Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan unfortunately passed away, but much of the original cast is back including Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, and Bruce Willis. Josh Brolin, Eva Green, and Joseph Gordon-Levett are notable additions, as well as Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, and Jeremy Piven. One cameo is especially awesome but is best left a surprise.
There are four stories, two written specifically for this film (Nancy’s Last Dance and The Long Bad Night) and two based on comics (A Dame To Kill For and Just Another Saturday Night). Nancy’s Last Dance feels like it was written to give fan favorites Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Jessica Alba more screen time, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The stories are out of continuity and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is both a prequel and sequel.
There really isn’t much to The Long Bad Night but that doesn’t stop Joseph Gordon-Levett from leaving his mark. He and Powers Boothe have a couple of memorable scenes over cards.
In the title story, Eva Green plays femme fatale Ava Lord. Topless for many of her scenes, she oozes confidence and uses her body as a weapon to make slaves out of men. Dwight (Josh Brolin, previously played by Clive Owen) is her former lover and things get complicated when she wants his help to escape her abusive husband and his bodyguard Manute (Dennis Haysbert, previously Michael Clarke Duncan). It makes sense to have a different actor play Dwight since this story takes place before The Big Fat Kill (from the original movie) and mostly before Dwight has plastic surgery. A small part of it takes place after Dwight has plastic surgery though and it would’ve been cool if they brought Clive Owen back for that bit. Missed opportunity.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For may not have the same impact as the original and it doesn’t flow as smoothly, but it’s exactly what I expect out of a Sin City movie. These are pulpy, B-grade stories in a fancy shell. There’s not a lot to them, but it’s a fun world to dwell in for a couple of hours; a place where everybody’s a slick talkin’ tough guy and the scantily clad women packin’ heat are as dangerous as their male counterparts. It’s not for everybody, but the marvelous art-direction can’t be denied and it’s enjoyable if you have a dark sense of humor. Hopefully we don’t have to wait 9 years for the next installment.
3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
This movie has some saucy advertising:
And an oldie, but a goodie:
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