Written by Ed Sum and James Robert Shaw
E: Perhaps it’s wise to see Sin City first before seeing the second film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. After nine long years, that’s required in order to understand at least two of the tales that make up this sequel. With one story, knowing a bit more than the summary Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) or Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) provides can make this particular tale all the more appreciative. Or in this film’s case, see a marked retribution in what Callahan faced from the first film. For some fans of this marked neo noir piece, she’s perhaps one of the best eye candy to grace the screen.
J: There isn’t much to say about this film plot wise, guns blaze, people die and somehow characters cross paths. But if you haven’t read the comic books, the film may leave you in the dark. The film is just one big mess. Storywise it is like Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez threw a bunch of comic strips in the air and whatever order it came down in, that is how the movie was shot.
E: Bear in mind one fact. James has not read the comics and I only read one collected works in graphic novel format. This film could fare better if it had inter-titles to separate the four tales being presented. Two were written for this sequel specifically. They were “The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance.” From the comics, the other two are “Just Another Saturday Night” and “A Dame to Kill For.” The latter being the central theme to this anthology of tales were the black widow, or rather, the femme fatale everyone has to be careful with is Ava Lord (played by Eva Green). And oh boy, was she smokin’!
J: Eva Green was one of the few highlights of A Dame To Kill For, but only when she let her villain side emerge. As the damsel in distress her performance was comical in its delivery. Green might have seen one too many 1940’s schlock performances. As for the rest of the cast, few shined in this film as Green could. Even Mickey Rourke, who revived his career in the original Sin City as Marv, wasn’t as captivating in his role. But Mickey Rourke on a bad day is a cut above many. In the end, it was Green and Joseph Gordon Levitt who stole the film.
E: That makes me want to say who’s Johnny? and kick up some golden 80’s tunes.
Kidding aside, Levitt played the seminal Johnny, a cocky gambler who thinks he can never lose at the casinos. But when he’s facing Senator Roark who hates losing, perhaps he’s better off challenging him to a game of Russian Roulette. The stories are not really inter-linked, but at least viewers get to see how far Roark’s fingers stretch since it was his family who built this city and owns it. You really have to be a follower of the comics to understand the nuances this second film builds upon. Without it, as James clearly showed upon viewing this film. It was more like a what than a wow.
My only issue is that this film took a while to build up steam to the more action-paced third act.
J: And the third act petered out with a disappointing ending. I’m not saying the action wasn’t good but it had no real sense of reason. You have characters dying before you can find out who they are and what is their real purpose. Still other characters have their lives snuffed out, oblivious to the battle that is played out around them.
E: I liked the ending. It gave one particular tale a finality. As for whether or not there will be more, I suspect Miller will end here. There are more stories from the comics that can be adapted to film, but what more is there that can be said about the nastiness that goes on in Basin City? Unless audiences understand the world that Frank Miller created, which shows off the criminal element and corruption that goes on, the visual artistry is not enough to keep viewers happy. Some of the animation looks more rotoscoped and hand drawn than digitally integrated. I’m willing to suspend disbelief with the obvious huge amounts of green screening, but I guess I’m getting anxious: I want to see Miller return to comics and finish that damned Xerxes graphic novel.
J: A third movie would be a welcome addition only if there isn’t another nine-year rest between films. Much of this film’s box office will most likely suffer because of the long absence between original and sequel.
Basin City is just another version of Los Angeles with palm trees intact and even the Hollywood Hills shown in all it’s glory. With such a setting the right director and writers could find new places to explore with new characters to create. They can make a movie just off of the citizens of Old Town alone. A third installment is there if only the studios could dig deeper. But for this film, it never goes beyond scratching the surface.
Ed’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
James’ Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.