Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Review
Have you ever been hanging out with a little kid in a group of adults and he makes a fart joke that just happens to have the perfect timing and words to be hilarious and the entire group bursts out into raucous laughter? At that point you can do nothing but look at the kids parents in sympathy because you know that for the next 12 years or so that kid will do nothing but fart jokes, ever looking for that magical humor lightning to strike twice and probably lead him to a future career as tow truck driver, mall security guard, or writer of a bitter and acerbic movie review blog. Basically if it doesn’t involve flatulence he will no longer think it funny just because a bunch of moronic grown ups laughed at a joke he made at age 6.
That’s pretty much what I see happening here. Robert Rodriguez teamed up with Frank Miller and came out with a mind blowing movie that was lauded for it’s camera work and noir heritage. Since whenever he’s not doing a film like this or Machete he is doing films with titles like The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl one can only imagine he is very hungry for a repeat of that adulation and as I pointed out in my review of Machete Kills he is of the “humor and excitement through repetition” school of movie making it makes sense that he would be totally cool with doing essentially the same movie with a few new characters in it. The problem is the original Sin City was mind blowing for it’s originality whereas this film ends up feeling like you just watched a really well done documentary on a subject you are already very familiar with.
Not that it’s bad. If you loved the original Sin City and found yourself wishing it would go on for another 102 minutes your dreams have come true. Also if you are a fan of Cool World-esque cartoonish camera angles, black and white, and gravel voiced monologues forgetaboutit. If you feel guilty because every year you skip the Film Noir festival at the Castro Theater you could probably fill up your artsy dark movie tank and dash off into the night like a pretentiously mysterious Spanish gentleman in a romance novel.
I honestly don’t know what else to say. If you saw Sin City you’ve seen this one. The only thing of note that perked me up (so to speak) was the unrequited love of my life Eva Green. I guess Frank Miller has a thing for her or she has a thing for unnecessary Frank Miller sequels as I first noticed her in 300: Rise of an Empire. I’m glad to see continued success has not diminished her willingness to do nude scenes or play the dark femme fatale. She is the only new thing in this film that I would consider a true improvement. If you recall in the last one we had Jessica Alba playing a “stripper” who never actually gets nude. I guess Robert Rodriguez heard my screams of annoyance and frustration and wisely opted to find a girl I am even more attracted to (actually all attraction to Jessica fell apart when she did the Fantastic Four).
Other than that it is the same multiple story line concept, although with a bit more interaction between stories. That being said the stories are all heavily on the pointless side as in no one seems motivated to do any of the things they do and the stories meander back and forth in a big convoluted mess. As much as I love him as an actor the Ed Norton vignette was particularily pointless and motivationless. SPOILER ALERT It’s the story of a guy who comes to town to prove something to his long lost dad and after everyone warns him that messing around with pop will get him killed he gets killed. Why not just have a story about a guy who is told there is a really good gelato place across town and so he drives across town and gets some really good gelato? It has about the same merit.
Anyway, the stories are intertwined so I will just recap in turn. Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT still in play. So Marv (Mickey Roarke-Expendables, Iron Man 3, Johnny Handsome) somehow survived the electric chair (wait a minute. Is this a reboot or a sequel? If it’s a reboot why is Hartigan still dead?) and is hanging out in the bar keeping an eye on Nancy (Jessica Alba-Fantastic Four, Machete Kills, Valentines Day. Fantastic Four image courtesy of the Marvel Comic T-Shirt category) the “stripper”. Hartigan (Bruce Willis-the Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard) is still around as a ghost protecting Nancy but in truth not able to do much more than watch her. Nancy is haunted by the death of Hartigan and holds Senator Roarke (Powers Boothe-MacGruber, Tombstone, Deadwood) responsible even though technically Hartigan killed himself. She has Hartigans gun and every night dreams of killing Roarke while drinking herself stupid and not taking off her clothes.
Roarke has a running poker game in the back of the strip club Nancy works at where it is known that if you win too much he will kill you or something (why would anyone play there?). A kid named Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Looper, Premium Rush, 50/50) rolls into town. He is apparently the luckiest human ever and beats Roarke in the game. Meanwhile a new guy Dwight (Josh Brolin-Labor Day, Gangster Squad, True Grit) is a private eye. He is contacted by his long lost evil ex girlfriend Ava (Eva Green-300: Rise of an Empire, Dark Shadows, Casino Royale) who is evil he says but according to her she is being abused by her husband and burly bodyguard Manute (Dennis Haysbert-Think Like a Man Too, Far From Heavan, Heat). Manute delivers an ass beating unto Dwight.
So the stories intertwine. Dwight gets Marv to help him assault and kill Ava’s husband. She turns out to be evil and was just setting her husband up. Another minor character surfaces in the form of the cop investigating named Mort (Chirstopher Meloni-Small Time, White Bird in a Blizzard, They Came Together) who falls in love with Ava and then kills himself after accomplishing nothing besides taking up screen time. Johnny gets his girlfriend killed and his hand broken but comes back to Roarke’s game where apparently beating Roarke at poker is considered the biggest insult in Sin City, so Roarke kills Johnny leaving him having accomplished nothing besides taking up even more screen time. Dwight recovers and attacks Ava again and kills her. Finally Nancy cuts off her own face and gets Marv to attack Roarke for the final confrontation. The film doesn’t so much as end as runs out of steam.
Visually great. One star. Excellent cast with good acting. Two stars. If you are a fan of noir film you are good to go. One star. Eva Green naked for pretty much half her screen time. One star. All the things you liked from the first film are here. One star. Marv is still kick ass. One star. Total: seven stars.
The black holes:
You pretty much saw this movie back in 2005. The repetitive nature of the film tends to make it sort of boring. One black hole. Easily half the smaller stories go nowhere and are ultimately pointless. You would actually gain more story watching a homeless man pick through a garbage pan and find half a pizza slice. One black hole. The whole effort stinks of trying too hard. You can almost see Rodriguez strain to push out more dark noir into this film. Pretty much anything anyone said was good in the last one was ground into the film. One black hole. Ironically for a sequel to a film that was so groundbreaking this film has nothing resembling creativity or new ideas. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a grand total of three stars. Not bad, but not great. It seems like most of the reviewers out there are afraid to point out the emperor has no clothes and are climbing over each other to kiss this movies fundament, but I will march to my own drummer again and say that I think it was not even close to the original. Still, if you liked the first one it is definitely worth seeing for the visuals alone. Go for 3D and big screen if you can. Date movie? Probably not. Violent, filled with hot naked women, and the whole film has a greasy coat of misogamy that might rub any women with a feminist streak badly.
Thanks for reading. More to see soon. Please follow me on Twitter to see when I post new stuff. Have a great night.
The Infamous Dave Inman