Do a Shot: each time a character is naked
Take a Drink: during every stylish scene
Take a Drink: for every gruesome moment
Do a Shot: for Stacy Keach, who wears quite the stunning outfit
By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) –
It has been a long journey for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For to get to theaters. Ever since the original Sin City debuted well back in 2005, both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller have been planning a sequel and a prequel, or a film that would have a timeline that occurs both before and after the original. However, the duo struggled to get the film made in a speedy manner, with the Weinstein Company demanding a finished script before production started. Once the film seemed to have finally reached its finish point, the film was further delayed from an October 2013 release date to now.
There have also been a few changes behind the scenes during this time period. Clive Owen, who played one of the main characters Dwight, was replaced by Josh Brolin, who here is playing a younger version of that character. Also being replaced from the first film are Devon Aoki and Michael Clark Duncan, who are replaced by Jamie Chung and Dennis Haysbert. After all the turmoil and delay, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has finally hit theaters. While it’s not quite as good as the original, it’s still a worthwhile sequel.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For follows three separate arcs. Johnny, a cocky gambler, challenges shady Senator Roark to a poker match, but with a few hidden motives, a private detective Dwight gets drawn back into his dark past when he former flame Ava calls for him, and the stripper Nancy looks to get revenge for the death of John Hartigan.
As one would expect from a Sin City film, the visuals are sublime. With the advancements in technology and the bigger budget, the visuals even show a slight improvement. The black and white color scheme is back, and the bold contrast still works quite well. The green screen technology that was just starting to be used back in 2005 has been mastered now, making the special effects shots look even more impressive. The beautiful violent cinematography by Rodriguez himself is also pitch perfect for this film.
A new addition from the first film is the use of 3D, which is honestly one of the best uses in a long time. Both Rodriguez and Miller filmed the movie in 3D, which is quite rare today with most films lazily converting the footage in post-production. Every little detail from the white rain to the glass flying off a crashing car pops out nicely, making the imagery look even more dynamic. For once, this was a smart use of 3D.
After doing a great job with the original film, both Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez direct quite well here again. Both of them have proven to be a great team together, as Rodriguez’s bold filmmaking style matches Miller’s inventive universe quite well. The duo continue to use the advancements in technology to their advantage, with the action setpieces being even more engaging and involving.
Similar to the first film, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For features a great cast, including some impressive new additions. For me at least, Joseph Gordon Levitt really steals the show as the cocky Johnny, as he fits the noir atmosphere of the film like a glove. As always he is quite charming, and continues to prove to be a truly outstanding actor. Eva Green again plays a beautiful, yet gleefully evil villain, which she at this point does quite well. She knows the boundaries to push and is able to ride the line of having fun in her role without being too campy.
The rest of the cast is also quite good. Mickey Rourke has significantly less screentime than in the first, but is still able to make an impact with his imposing figure and natural charm. Josh Brolin gives an equally solid performance as Clive Owen did in the original Sin City, with Brolin being even more intimidating, perhaps, than Owen. Supporting performers such as Rosario Dawson, Powers Boothe, and Dennis Haysbert also do a solid job in their respective roles.
There are quite a few aspects, however, that pale in comparison to the original, starting with the pacing. The original Sin City runs a smooth two hours long, flying by quickly. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, on the other hand, feels a lot less tight with its 102 minute running time, feeling very long-winded at points, with there being quite a few dull lulls in the movie. For the movie to be a good twenty minutes shorter yet feel longer is disappointing.
While a lot of the great visual style is back, it’s hard to deny that some of the excitement about the unique filmmaking is lost. In the original film, the style throughout was so bold and unique that it truly captivates audiences throughout its run-time. Here even though the visuals are improved, they just do not feel as fresh due to other graphic novel adaptations such as The Spirit and Watchmen having similar styles.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the story, which pales in comparison to the first film. In the original Sin City, each of the three story arcs respectively are equally engaging, excluding the lame intro and closing scenes involving Josh Hartnett. Here, the stories are not equally good, with there being some better than others. The worst one by and large is “Nancy’s Last Dance”, which is essentially shoved in at the ending of the film and feels largely like an afterthought. This arc involves Jessica Alba becoming a vigilante of sorts, which just feels completely out of character for her. From its short length to its awkward ending, this arc just felt like a reason to connect this sequel to the original. This might be because this storyline was actually created for this movie, and not based on any pre-existing source material.
Another issue with the stories are their organization. The “A Dame to Kill For” storyline feels like it takes up most of the film, and while it’s enjoyable, felt overlong by a good five minutes or so. On the other hand, “The Long Bad Night” storyline involving Johnny was interesting and had some great twists, yet had significantly less screentime than “A Dame to Kill For”. It seemed like both Rodriguez and Miller’s script need a bit more organization and focus.
While Sin City: A Dame to Kill For pales in comparison to the original and does not feel quite as fresh, it’s still an enjoyable ride featuring some great stylistic moments and solid performances. Check it out as soon as you can, because its eighth place box office finish means it won’t be out for long.