I re-watched the first “Sin City” twice before seeing this new one. The original is still a very well made albeit violent comic book thriller that had a few flaws but still was an overall good movie. With plenty more stories to adapt from Frank Miller’s works of “Sin City” a sequel would be an almost no brainer. Yet maybe the time off did not fair for director Robert Rodriguez. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill” has its moments and the green screen technology that was cleverly implemented in the first film has seen big improvements since that first movie 9 years ago. The rest however is very uneven. The acting sometimes impresses while other times it falls flat. The 4 separate storylines that we follow this time aren’t nearly as good as the previous “Sin City”. While some are better than others, the main story “A Dame to Kill For” goes on for far too long and effectively makes the movie feel much longer than it is and will make you fatigued about halfway through this gritty stylistic comic book film.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” once again features its separate yet interwoven stories that are all tales of Sin City. With a women seeking vengeance for the death of her love, a man trying to get lucky out on the town while going up against the most powerful man in the city, and another man trying not to become a monster as he deals with a dame that is to kill for. These are the stories of Sin City.
The storylines in this film are not as well realized on screen as the ones in the previous entry. Some of them are solid and a few lacking in certain areas. Unlike the stories in the first “Sin City” some of these are not adapted from the richly dark comic books. A few of these are in fact are purely written for the screen. Which doesn’t automatically make it a bad thing, yet they aren’t as rich.
The one that made that most sense to have in this film was a sequel to “That Yellow Bastard” storyline that featured Bruce Willis as a detective reuniting with the women he saved as a little girl and trying to keep her safe from harm. In the new “Sin City” it show the women, named Nancy, trying to deal with the events of that story as she struggles with it and wants revenge. The storyline is shorter than it perhaps should have been but none the less was a good addition to the “Sin City” universe.
Jessica Alba once again returns to play Nancy. She has never been the strongest actress nor was she in the first movie. Yet she does turn it up a bit in this sequel. Nancy is a darker character dealing some struggles and a thirst for vengeance and Alba does play the role well. Albeit it’s still not Oscar worthy but at the very least, a much improved performance from the first time on screen.
The next storyline that was written for the screen is called “The Long Bad Night” that involves newcomer Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt plays a poker player that stops off in Sin City to take on the evil Senate Roark. Levitt commands the screen as the charming and stylish Johnny. There are some great moments in this segment that includes a intense poker match. It was a segment that I got really invested into, (which unfortunately got broken up to give time to a different storyline) then the ending is less than satisfying. There was a great deal of build up and tension then it just ends, unceremoniously and unjustly. It was a waste of what was a good story that Levitt nailed absolutely nailed.
One of the final stories in this movie is the main storyline (from which the film was named off of) and that is “A Dame to Kill For”. This features returning character Dwight, this time playing by Josh Brolin instead of Clive Owen which makes narrative sense (this is also the story that breaks up “The Long Bad Night”). This is without a single shred of a doubt the worst of the 4 stories. The most amount of attention is paid on this one and it just drags on and never ends. Not only is the story tedious and uninteresting but it makes the entire film make feel longer as a result. This movie is about a little more than 20 minutes shorter than the first entry but in fact it feels 20 minutes longer. Once the story finally ends I was already so fatigued that I honestly wanted the film to end there so I could go home. “The Long Bad Night” does pick the movie up again, (even if the conclusion to that was abrupt), and Nancy’s storyline was decent enough to help the entire film as a whole after this plot thread really tore it down. Maybe if they broke this story up some more maybe it would have been more bearable, and it doesn’t help that Josh Brolin gave a bad performance as Dwight. Eva Green does fine work but the overdone dialogue, (that is a staple of the series), gets really overdone with her character and becomes almost unbearable. Yet even still she has a commanding screen presence. This movie would have been better without it and still would have been much shorter and more effective.
The final story is actually the first one in the movie and that’s called “Just Another Saturday Night”. Which features the loveable yet dangerous Marv, played once again by Mickey Rourke. It’s very short and serves as a nice introduction back into the world of “Sin City” which Rourke once again brings his all as Marv. Nothing amazing but it once again showcases the hard hitting violence and overdone film noir dialogue for which we either loved or hated the first one for.
It also showcases the amazing advancements in the technology from the first one. The green screen, black and white film noir/comic book look has been perfected from the original “Sin City”. In the original sometimes it was hard to create a good depth of field to make the characters look like they are standing far away instead of right behind them or that there is a real hallway behind them. In this most of those problems have been eradicated.
Yet even with that advancement, this is still not a better movie or even equal ] to the original “Sin City” in terms of storytelling or overall product. A few good stories were told here and the acting for the most part was solid and was nice to see this world again even though the time away had hurt the uniqueness of the original film. The “Dame to Kill For” storyline did hurt the movie to a huge degree and it wasn’t able to recover from it. I still would be interested in a third “Sin City”, yet that’s unlikely to happen.