I’m disappointed by the second Sin City film, but not in the way you think.
Last night, after weeks of trying to find someone willing to go with me, I FINALLY got to see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. I am a fan of the first film, as well as most of Frank Miller’s movie adaptations (except from a HUGELY underwhelming second 300 movie), therefore it was natural that I was eagerly anticipating the release of A Dame to Kill For.
Reports of box office failings started to appear along with early critical reviews. Those reviews giving the general consensus that this movie was painfully average and, in almost all cases, inferior to the original. It was at this time that I began to worry. Despite all of this, I was still determined to go see for myself whether or not the movie lived up to my expectations, and thank God I did.
I am actually disappointed by Sin City 2, but not in the way that everyone else seems to be; I’m disappointed by its lackluster marketing campaign, its poor critical reviews, and by how badly it has bombed ($22 million so far worldwide on a budget of over $60m!). Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, should have performed better, and I think I know why it didn’t.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, in my opinion, FAR superior to the original movie. Both myself and my cinema companion concluded that it was a pretty incredible experience, and in a lot of ways, a much more successful attempt at bringing Sin City to life than the first one. We also both agreed that, while we are fans of the original, it sometimes is over-hyped.
Now, I know that at the time of the original’s release it was utterly groundbreaking in terms of visual style and storytelling, and that is part of the reason why it has such a strong and dedicated fan base. And I agree that the original movie is unique, exciting, beautiful and mature, but it does drag a bit by the end of the third act. Honestly, I think if you were to watch it again, you would probably agree with me. The final segment in the original movie seems to go on forever. Once the prostitutes of “Old Town” get involved, it’s a never-ending bloodbath. And, while that isn’t inherently a bad thing, it seems to over stay it’s welcome. I think the main problem with the 2005 original, clocking in at 124 minutes, is that it is simply too long for the material that Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have on offer. Another inherent problem in the original is that not all of the segments are as strong as one another- the main segment involving Mickey Rourke’s character Marv by far and away being the most interesting-and the others sort of fall by the wayside.
All of that changes in the 2014 sequel. Every single one of the segments are thoroughly engaging, with a particular favorite of mine being the one that shares the movie’s title: A Dame to Kill For. Eva Green is absolutely phenomenal. She plays one of the most interesting and enthralling characters that Sin City has to offer, and Dwight (Josh Brolin) and Marv are equally brilliant.
Having said that, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a new addition to the Sin City cast, is also spectacular. He portrays suave a poker player out for revenge while Jessica Alba, owns her much more beefed out role as Nancy.
I was genuinely interested and invested in all of the segments of this movie. The action was visual, unique and brutal (a particular scene involving JGL and some finger clamps is particularly cringe-inducing). One more thing, that once again my friend and I agreed upon, is that the visual style of this movie was far more on-point and effectively diverse than the in the first film. I absolutely believe that this movie is an utter blast; full of eclectic dialogue, engaging characters, fulfilling plot lines, brilliant sub-plots, intense and beautiful visuals and spectacular acting. It is a much tighter, well-rounded film than its predecessor and makes for an easier and fast-paced viewing experience. Yes, it is unrealistic. Yes, it is gratuitous in it’s approach to violence. Yes, it isn’t for everyone. But, I’ll be damned if anyone can say that it is plain bad. It absolutely is not. And what did you expect from a Sin City sequel, anyway?
Why then has it done so badly? Not only in general Hollywood terms, but also in comparison to the original? To let you have an idea of what I’m referring to, I’ll give you a quick run-down of some facts:
Opening weekend gross: Sin City: $29 Million Sin City 2: $6 Million
Total international gross: Sin City: $158 Million Sin City 2: $22 Million (so far)
Rotten tomatoes score: Sin City: 78% Sin City 2: 45%
MetaCritic Score: Sin City: 74/100 Sin City 2: 45/100
Now, looking at those statistics, it is obvious that the sequel is not doing anywhere near as well as the original. And I believe I know why: When the original hit cinemas in 2005 it was, as previously stated, groundbreaking. Critics lapped up the proverbial celluloid milk. However now, several graphic novel movie adaptations later, critics seem to be less impressed.
Just because, the movie lacks the surprise factor of the first doesn’t make it any less incredible. That is like saying that you don’t like The Return of the King because, really, it’s just more of the same. How is that a valid opinion? It’s not in my eyes. If this movie were to have been released in 2007, for example, I think that it would have done much better not only financially, but also critically. Critics are like sheep, they follow what their peers are saying (typically), or what the current trend might be, All the while, hailing every new art-house film as a masterpiece and every new blockbuster as a huge, steaming pile of shit. So, had this movie been released while hype for the original was still at its highest, I would almost guarantee that it would have fared far better under the glaring eyes of the judgmental and contradictory. Therein lies the movies greatest disappointment: it’s release date. What a mistake that was. But don’t punish the film for that. Its badly judged timing shouldn’t affect how you view it, and unfortunately, I think that is exactly what has happened.
The poor critical reception along with the poor marketing campaign, drove this-dare I say it?-masterpiece into the ground, and that is the greatest shame in it all.
I implore you to go and see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For as soon as you can. If you choose not to, don’t complain when Hollywood produces the usual unoriginal tripe that seems to garner the box office figures they so desperately crave. Sin City 2 is unique, visceral and wholly underrated. Go see it! Or alternatively wait for another Michael Bay explode-athon to hit cinemas next year. Oh, the joy.