Movie Review: Sin City – A Dame To Kill For
Sequels; especially sequels to massively successful movies – fairly or otherwise – have quite a standard to live up to – and then beat.
Even now and then; a for real ‘now and then’ – a sequel comes out that threatens to obliterate its predecessor, shattering box office records, winning awards and remaining in the annals of history for all time.
Em. Forgive me. I think that’s actually happened only once…
Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Anyways, that still does not change the fact that people; fans, actors, studios and so on expect sequels to do better than the original. Studios; especially. Else why would studios drop $110 million for the 300 sequel – which eventually grossed $331 million – as opposed to the original which grossed $456 million against a $65 million budget?
To the point – a movie which; interestingly, was written by the same mind that gave us the above 300 and it’s sequel Rise Of An Empire. Frank Miller.
Without further ado…
The original movie was a runaway hit, winning several awards and making movie history for its visual appeal and gritty story. It was fresh; genre-bending, mind blowing – it was something never seen before on screen; 2 or 3D. Flash forward nine years later – and the sequel, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For drops.
As with the first movie, there are two overarching stories that move the narrative along – the titular tale; A Dame To Kill For featuring Dwight Macarthy (Josh Brolin) and Ava Lord (Eva Green), and Nancy’s Last Dance featuring Nancy (Jessica Alba), Marv (Mickey Rourke) Senator Roarke (Powers Boothe). Two other stories complete the plot; Just Another Saturday Night featuring Marv and The Long Bad Night featuring Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Marcie (Julie Garner). Two of the stories are original; writing exclusively for the movie – Nancy’s Last Dance and The Long Bad Night while the other two are adaptations of the original comic book stories.
Stories that detail human emotions at their finest or most cruel; Sin City is a town that feeds the most vile of human lusts. The movie starts really slow – Marv, the lumbering giant hero who was framed and killed in the first movie story returns in a preceding story, regaining consciousness in a field surrounded by bodies and the wreck of two cars. Due to his memory issues, he cannot remember how he got there and starts to backtrack. Joseph Levitt is a young, cocky card-sharp who intends to take on the most powerful man in Sin City by beating him in a game of poker. He is arrogantly confident of his own abilities – and his arrogance is justified. But then – sometimes talent is not enough.
Ava Lord is the typical femme fatale; scheming, manipulating and murderous whenever it suits her. Her green eyes gleam with greed and impassioned ferocity, her red lips pulse with evil as she spouts self serving lines like: “This is the last time I make a living on my back.” No offense madam, but who send you?
Bruce Willis also shines as Hartigan’s ghost, seemingly trapped in this reality as a result of frustrated unconsummated love/lust between him and Jessica Alba’s character Nancy, a girl “young enough to be my granddaughter” in Hartigan’s own words. He lurks behind his love, speaking frustrated quotes in a voice as unemotional as his expressions. But somehow, seeing Bruce on screen always rocks – even if all he does is cock his head in that annoying way of his.
The creator and director; Frank Miller and his co-director Robert Rodriguez have come under fire severally for their poBut that is not the point. After all, the first movie was rife with such fare and it made for a palatable meal. So where did the sequel miss it?
First, the movie almost seems to not be clear on what it wants to achieve – rambling and stumbling in its own way just like Marv in the opening sequence. The visuals that were novel and riveting in the first movie felt jarringly glossy and unreal for the sequel – and the casting choices were misfires at times. For example – I thought too; that Josh Brolin would play pre-surgery Dwight and Clive Owen would just reprise his role from the original – post-surgery Dwight. They just added make up to his face – and they expected him to get away that easy?
Somehow, I didn’t buy the Eva Green – Ava Lord casting either; maybe because Angelina Jolie had been touted to play the evil woman who schemes and manipulates men as though they were pawns and life was her chessboard. She didn’t do too badly – but you know no female can top Jolie when it comes to playing bad ass females who suck men into their spider webs.
At least not yet.
PS: The following poster was banned by The Motion Picture Association of America because of the nudity. *clears throat*
I did find Dennis Haysbert charismatic as the two-eyed-then-one-eyed Manute, a role that came with high-expectations as he took over from the late-great Michael Clarke Duncan – but he nailed it to a T; including the gravelly voice. If Duncan is the standard, Haysbert is a comfortable replacement. Ray Liotta is brilliant as a rich businessman cheating on his wife – and several other talents make this piece decent. Another dear departed star – Brittany Murphy – who played bargirl Shellie in the first part had her part in the sequel written out – Miller preferred to do that rather than recast her. Minute’s part, however is too pivotal to the story to be given up.
I found the movie tedious, the violence was rather too over the top (I’d rather Rodriguez keep the gore for his progressively-ridiculous Machete series) but as someone stated:
” “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” doesn’t have the electricity of the original, mainly because we’ve seen it all once before. Nothing new is really revealed here, either through story or style. But Rodriguez and Miller are completely committed to their vision, such as it is, and its ferocity can’t be easily dismissed.”
And the verdict is…Not Bad.
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For now showing in Silverbird Cinemas nationwide, Ozone Cinemas Yaba, Genesis Deluxe Cinemas too. I think.