Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez.
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Jessica Alba and Eva Green.
"Sin City is where you go in with your eyes open, or you don't come out at all". The grizzled and macho characters of Sin City are back, Nancy is out for revenge, Dwight is fighting his inner demons, Johnny has just run out of luck and Marv....well Marv is just there to get his hands dirty.
9 years after the release of the cult classic "Sin City" we are reunited with the rough and tough characters of the town. We are greeted with some familiar faces while also being introduced to some brand new characters.
Like I said above, this is the sequel to the movie that came out back in 2005, nine years ago. And for some reason, we are only getting this movie now. Is it truly too little too late?
Everything you loved about the first Sin City is back in the sequel! The comic book style, the over the top gore and action and of course the constant narration!
What was impressive about the original Sin City was its uniqueness, nothing like it had ever been done before, it was truly a game changer in terms of its style and visuals. Thankfully the style is back for "A Dame To Kill For" but its no longer as bewildering as it used to be because we've seen it all before. Albeit the film looks beautiful and the visuals are just mesmerizing but I'll say the exact same thing that I said about the original, the movie wouldn't be half as good if it weren't for the wacky visuals we see on screen, in fact without its style, Sin City would be an incredibly mediocre film.
Throughout "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" I couldn't help but think how much I would have loved this film if it came out 5 years ago. It really does feel like too little too late. And I think that's what most people are thinking, after all it did open with only $6 Million at the box office this past weekend. If "A Dame To Kill For" did come out 4-5 years ago, it would have had 3x the domestic gross.
Back in 2005, people had never seen anything like Sin City, it was very unique but in 2014, audiences have seen just about all they can see when it comes to visuals. And other than its impressive visuals, "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" doesn't have much else to offer up.
Of course if a Sin City sequel was going to be made, the signature style had to come back and wow, am I glad it did. For the first five minutes or so, its slightly bewildering but it doesn't take long to get immersed back into this grimy, dirty world. The animated blood and rain looks brilliant, I did not see it in 3D and I kind of wish I did because I can only imagine how great it would look.
Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe and even Bruce Willis come back for the sequel and they all do a fine job. Mickey Rourke and Powers Boothe are definitely stand outs from the members of the returning cast. Rourke is just having the time of his life returning as the tenacious Marv who is willing to do anything to get in a scrap. Powers Boothe returns in a much larger role here and he's just fantastic, he plays a great villain and his part in Johnny's story line is a definite high point of the film.
We're also treated to some new faces, Josh Brolin takes over Clive Owen in the role of Dwight, Eva Green plays the wicked Ava (The Dame To Kill For) and Joseph Gordon Levitt near enough steals the entire movie with his charismatic performance of Johnny.
Since this movie is broken up into different story lines, I think it would be best if I talk about each one separately. Starting off with the story line on which the title is alluding to.
Yes, the "Dame To Kill For" arc, in which Dwight (Josh Brolin) is helpless against the charms of Ava (Eva Green). He must look past his undeniable affection for the seductress and deal with the task at hand, she has used and lied to him and now she has to pay. Josh Brolin takes over Clive Owen in the role of Dwight and he does a good enough job, he just lacks the charm that Clive Owen brought to the character. Eva Green plays the titular villain and this is more of a re-hash of the character she played in this years "300: Rise Of An Empire", she plays a seductress who has no trouble getting naked to get her own way. The "Dame To Kill For" story line took up the majority of screen time and yet....it was the least interesting. Maybe it was the characters involved or maybe this story wasn't written as well as the others, but I found my self just wanting to return to the other stories because this one wasn't offering much and its a shame since this is the main plot.
Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) is still grieving over the death of her true love, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis). She has turned to liquor for help and this only makes matters worse. She is haunted by the ghost of Hartigan and the only way to make this stop is to make the man responsible pay. Nancy can't bring her self to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) so she recruits the likes of Marv (Mickey Rourke) who grins at the opportunity to bash some heads in. This story was enjoyable purely because of Marv, yet again he is a bright spot in this Sin City installment. Jessica Alba certainly improved on her performance from the first film but not by much, her character does get a lot more to do though and she had a great action scene towards the end.
My favorite story out of the three was definitely the story of Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a young gambler who's luck is just incomprehensible. He's a newcomer to Sin City and he has no idea what he's in for. He goes up against Roark in a game of poker and to Roark's surprise, Johnny wins. The Senator is out to get Johnny and there relationship takes an unexpected turn. This was by far the best story line. I benefit that mainly to Joseph Gordon Levitt's performance. JGL is one of my favorite actors currently working, I love him in just about anything he does and he was a welcome addition to the cast of Sin City, he brought a lot of wit and charisma to the film that kept it light at times. The problem with this portion of the film is that not enough time was spent on it, I could have easily watched another 15 minutes of Johnny's story, it was by far the most interesting and because so little time was spent on it, its conclusion didn't have much of an impact.
Marv (Rourke) is the character that ties these stories together, he doesn't have much of an arc, he's there just for the ride. Mickey Rourke was the comic relief in the film, not once did his character become over the top in the context of the film and I loved him in the role.
Frank Miller writes noir dialogue beautifully, its almost poetic in a sense. The visuals and dialogue fit perfectly and they complement each other very well. He did this very well in the first film but in the sequel, it borders on self parody and can seem very hokey at times. In the hands of Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon Levitt, the dialogue is great but in lesser hands like Jessica Alba and Josh Brolin, it does seem quite silly. The three stories try to intertwine more than they actually do and they felt too separate for me to really bond with any of them. I felt the film was restricted by its obligation to incorporate several stories because of the format the original had set. The film lacked focus and rather than these characters becoming part of the same plot, it felt like we were just zipping between each of them at random intervals.
I left Sin City feeling satisfied enough with what I watched, it didn't disappoint me but it didn't surprise me either. I got what I payed to see, an over the top stylized movie with fun characters and great action. I wouldn't say this is a bad movie, I wouldn't say its a necessarily good movie either. If you're a fan of the first Sin City, you'll find something entertaining here. Its fun but unlike the first film, a lot of it is ineffective. I'm going to give "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" a B-.
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