*I would like to state here that there will be spoilers for the first and second movies throughout this review.*
The mid 2000’s were a time of reinvention in film. Christopher Nolan, director of Insomnia, Following and the cult hit Memento, was hired to reboot the Batman franchise. Horror movies turned into endurance tests for your tolerance of gore. And remakes were becoming a thing of terror. Robert Rodriguez turned his head towards the noir graphic novel series, “Sin City” and made something fresh and (arguably) original. Made through the techniques of CGI and various animation effects (e.g. rotoscoping), Sin City commanded the screen with incredible visuals and the whip-fast editing. While the original movie may not have cared too much about genuine character arcs or women (something we’ll address again later), it wrapped itself around being a fun movie for a new generation.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the sequel. While the original surprised its audience with women in various states of undress, and an unparalleled hatred for male genitalia, and various other atrocities that almost made the viewer feel disgusted with themselves at how much fun it was, the sequel doesn’t care to do anything but cross some t’s and dot some I’s. CG rain? Check. Blood splatter in pure white? Check. Almost naked woman in nearly every frame? Double Check.
At first glance, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For doesn’t seem to have meddled with the formula, and you’d be right. The prequel/sequel/duringquel focuses on the same characters as before. Marv (Mickey Rourke) is his good ol’ self, aside from the fact that his appearance (specifically the shape of his head) has completely changed. Marv’s central segment, “Just Another Saturday Night,” follows his drunken masquerade through the night of shooting, beating and bum burnings. The short immediately started with shards of a windshield flying towards me in mediocre 3D and I had a feeling I was in for trouble. And for once, I actually felt just as lost through the story as Marv was. What’s the point to this short? I couldn’t tell you. Apparently he didn’t take his medicine, then he likes this guys coat and then he finally gets them straightened out with a few arrows to the chest from one of his hooker pals from Old Town, Miho (a recast Jamie Chung). And that’s it. Doesn’t move the story forward and certainly doesn’t let me know why the hell I’m watching a man who died in the last film go through one of his old violent charades.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt decides to pop in for “The Long, Bad Night” and unless he accepted the role knowing he would act opposite Christopher Lloyd and Lady Gaga for a few minutes, I don’t understand why he would accept this. Sure, it looks fun to chew through the scenery (or lack thereof) but after coming off of directing a fairly well received first feature and collaborating with Rian Johnson on the near perfect Looper, he would have something better to do than this. Then again, “The Long, Bad Night” would be absolutely irredeemable without his acting chops and fun old Hollywood wink at the camera.
The titular story in the film is actually tolerable because of a specific actor. And if you’ve been following the movies’ critical reception, I do have good news for you. Eva Green is as good as everyone says she is. Is she good enough to sit through the rest of the movie? I honestly don’t think so but if she isn’t just a ton of fun to watch (she is naked quite a bit which doesn’t hurt to look at, but infinitely distracting after the first five minutes of her being so). The rest of the movie falls even further with “Nancy’s Last Dance.”
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For doesn’t just disappoint but makes you wonder what the intentions were with this sequel. After nine long years, Miller & Rodriguez decided to jump back into the world, while promising fans of the first movie that a follow-up would emerge, they just weren’t sure when. A passion project? Sure. It definitely feels like every actor had a lot of fun with the amount of enthusiasm that shine through their roles. But unfortunately it all feels wasted. Comic book movies have launched through the stratosphere with Marvel and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy giving a new face to comic books. But no longer fresh, nor fun; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has nowhere to bring the comic book movie but down.