9 years ago, the first Sin City hit theaters. It brought a new style of film-making to the mainstream and paved the way for other graphic novel film adaptations such as 300 and Watchmen. The sequel was anxiously awaited… but then more and more years went by and it was believed for awhile that this movie would never get made. Well, here we are 9 years later, and can this movie possibly meet the expectations set up by the first?
The gist. Josh Brolin stars in most of this movie, replacing Clive Owen as Dwight. He’s reunited with an old flame (Eva Green) who has ulterior motives. She is watched over by her seeming bobyguard Manute (Dennis Haysbert replacing Michael Clarke Duncan). We’re introduced to a new character (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his relationship with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), whose malformed son is the villain in the first Sin City. Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Rosario Dawson all also return.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is sometimes a prequel and sometimes a sequel.
Visually, this movie mostly works. It has that same familiar look and is entertaining to watch. It isn’t as visually stunning as the original but its look is still one of its strengths in this outing.
In terms of outstanding characters, Jessica Alba gives probably one of the strongest performances (of both this film and her career), offering up a very different Nancy that we see in the original. The final act of the movie is focused on her in a very dark and haunting way… and she absolutely pulls it off. I’ve been waiting for this return to form since Dark Angel the television show (read why you should watch Dark Angel here). Mickey Rourke is great as Marv but he’s given surprisingly little to do here.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a solid addition but his story ultimately doesn’t pay off.
What doesn’t work?
Here’s the part where I shatter your dreams of this movie being anywhere near what the original Sin City was.
Visually, not as great as the original. The fight choreography is weaker and the film is ultimately less visceral than its predecessor. The movie has a confusing timeline and the actors are given very strange makeup to look like their 9-years-ago counterpart. Josh Brolin is given a really strange look at one point to remind you that Clive Owen played this character before.
Let’s talk about the story. Most of the movie takes place before Sin City, meaning it’s Dwight’s story before the original film. But if I didn’t know that Clive Owen played the same character, I wouldn’t have even connected the two dots and that this character was the same. This movie came out 9 years ago, you can’t expect the mainstream audience to remember anything. And then at one point, we shoot forward to after the events of Sin City. So… the timeline is confusing.
Even without the confusing timeline… This movie doesn’t make sense. The dialogue is horrible and almost laughable. 9 years of writing this script and this is the best they came up with? Some of these stories that we spend significant time with… get zero payoff. Walking out of the theater, I couldn’t even remember how some stories concluded. The first film had an incredible balance of the three stories and they managed to intertwine in meaningful ways. In this new film, Marv (Mickey Rourke) doesn’t get his own story but instead wanders into the other storylines in a forced way that makes him seem less dimensional as a character.
And let’s talk about Eva Green. I am done with Eva Green. Stop putting her in movies. She was one of the best parts of 300: Rise of an Empire, but that says absolutely nothing. I just hated seeing her on-screen and I was absolutely disengaged from that storyline, which was the central story for most of the movie.
This movie failed on almost every front. As a casual moviegoer, you won’t be able to keep up with this weird and convoluted story and timelines. The visual effects, while cool, aren’t worth the price of admission and are actually less impressive than the first Sin City movie. You’re better off renting the original, don’t waste your time with this one.