REVIEW Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

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Last week, we went to a screening of the much-anticipated sequel to Sin City. Oh, you weren’t waiting for Sin City 2 aka Sin City: A Dame To Kill For? Well I was. I loved the first movie, from the visuals to the film noir homages to the cast and have been waiting for the follow-up for quite some time now. Finally it’s here and so is my review (SPOILERS):

I did manage to read the graphic novel of the same name a couple days before the screening so it was very fresh in my mind. Since Frank Miller also co-directed the film, needless to say it’s almost panel by panel, frame by frame, very close to the source material. Like the first one, it’s divided into several stories so I’ll go through each story and tell you what I liked and didn’t like.

“Just Another Saturday Night”
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The film opens up with a short story, collected in the sixth book Booze, Broads & Bullets, centering on Marv and how he spends his nights. Basically he retraces his steps and discovers how he ended up on the highway, surrounded by several dead guys. I really enjoyed this opening. It sets the tone for the movie, goes straight into the action and reveals Marv’s character perfectly, for those who haven’t seen the first one.
“The Long Bad Night”
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This is one of two original stories written by Miller specifically for the movie. It’s split into two parts and centers around Johnny played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, a gambler who drives into Sin City, goes to Kadie’s place, picks up a young waitress as his good luck charm and joins a high-stakes poker game led by Senator Roarke. He impresses the room not only by his card-dealing skills but also by cleaning the senator out. Needless to say, it all ends very badly for him. The senator, revealing that he knew Johnny is his illegitimate son, takes his money back, breaks three of Johnny’s fingers and shoots him in the leg but leaves him alive. The first part ends here, but for continuity’s sake, let’s dive right into the second part. After visiting an unlicensed, druggie doctor, played hilariously by Christopher Lloyd, he realizes he forgot about Marcie. Of course, Roarke got to her first. Intent on revenge, he gets a dollar from a waitress played by Lady Gaga and turns it into enough money to buy in again on Roarke’s game. He wins again and taunts his father about the fact that the story of him being beaten twice will follow him for the rest of his life. Having achieved revenge, Johnny smiles resignedly when Roarke orders his execution. I really liked this story. I thought Johnny’s character was very compelling. From his connection to Roarke to the point where he realizes he’s not going to survive, there was something about the tragedy of it all that I thought was well done. The only thing I thought they could’ve done without was the involvement and brutal killing of Marcie the waitress. Although it is Sin City and it is Frank Miller, the story itself didn’t need Marcie. She barely had any lines and her purpose to serve as a distraction to the Senator was a weak excuse to include her.
“A Dame To Kill For”
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Now onto the main story. Pretty straight-forward noir plot where the damsel-in-distress turns out to be behind it all. A prequel to Dwight’s story in the first film, the character previously played by Clive Owen is played here by Josh Brolin. You may remember them commenting on Dwight’s “new face” in Sin City so now we find out how he got it. Everything comes back to Ava Lord, played by Eva Green, who is absolutely perfect for this role. You should go see this movie just for her. Ava is Dwight’s ex-lover who tricks him into murdering her rich husband so she can inherit everything. Before she can kill him however he escapes. She seduces the detective in charge of the case to go after Dwight, who’s hiding out and recovering from his surgeries in Old Town where the cops can’t go. He plans his revenge with the help of Gail (Rosario Dawson) and Miho (Jamie Chung previously Devon Aoki). With a new face, he infiltrates Ava’s compound but gets captured by her loyal bodyguard Manute (Dennis Haysbert previously played by the late Michael Clarke Duncan). In the end, Ava once again tries to manipulate Dwight by shooting Manute and declaring her love for him. Dwight shoots her mid-kiss. Easily one of my favorite Sin City graphic novels, it was a thrill seeing it played out on the big screen. Some shots worked so beautifully in 3D. Acting-wise, superb. Pacing and editing were great. Aside from the fact that they couldn’t get Clive Owen to play Dwight when he got his new face, I have no qualms about this story.
“Nancy’s Last Dance”
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Oh Nancy, poor sweet Nancy. This is the second original story, which I thought was unnecessary when all was said and done. Like “The Long Bad Night”, it’s also split and interspersed throughout the main narrative. After the events of the first movie, Nancy’s devastated by the loss of Hartigan, becomes an alcoholic, sees his ghost all the time and is trying to build up the courage to kill Roarke. Finally after countless scenes of dancing, drinking and ghost Bruce Willis, Nancy cuts her face to recruit Marv. They enter the senator’s compound where Nancy is shot and almost killed before Hartigan’s ghost somehow appears and distracts the senator enough so Nancy can shoot him at last. And that’s how the movie ended. It would’ve been stronger if they had ended with Ava’s death. I didn’t like the fact that Nancy became an alcoholic whose life was basically over when her protector died. It doesn’t make sense to me that her sole motivation to kill Roarke was that he killed Hartigan. What about the fact that he’s the father of the sicko who kidnapped her and made his son avoid prison for his crimes? Doesn’t she have any incentive that doesn’t revolve around Hartigan? I guess not. Plus the fact that she had to self-harm to get help from Marv? I’m pretty sure all she had to was ask, which was what Dwight did. Hasn’t it been established that Marv would do anything for Nancy? Yeah, I did not like this story as much as it pains me to say because I got really excited when I saw Jessica Alba might be kicking ass in the trailer.

All in all, the sequel was good, not great. At certain points, they seemed like they ran out of steam. But the visuals were once again gorgeous. If you liked the first one, you’d probably like this. Some critics were saying how bored they were though, which I disagree with. I found it entertaining but more hollow than the first one. I do recommend picking up the graphic novel though. Happy New Comic Book Day!

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One response to “REVIEW Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

  1. Pingback: Friday Favorites | Fashion, Food & the Fortress of Solitude

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