Most movie franchises today release sequels within 2-3 years of the original film. Many franchise films have such great projected sales that the filmakers are already working on the sequel before the first movie even hits theaters. Gone are the days of James Cameron sequels such as Aliens and Terminator 2 that were both released almost a decade after the release of the originals. The new Sin City film breaks the modern sequel mold completely and leans more on the Cameron side of things, coming out a full nine years after the first movie.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is set up much like the first film, with several stories told throughout the course of the movie. One of these plots follows the impulsive Dwight, played by Josh Brolin, and his pursuit of the wealthy seductress Ava Lord, played by Eva Green. Another story in this movie follows Johnny, a well-experienced gambler played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The final segment of the movie focuses more on Jessica Alba’s character, Nancy, who we were introduced to in the first film. All of these plots weave in and out from each other very well, just like the stories in the first film did, and the movie as a whole is a pretty enjoyable sequel.
The acting in this film is great, and one could expect no less from a cast such as this. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role was definitely my favorite in the movie. It’s starting to seem to me like Joseph Gordon-Levitt can work well in just about any role; I loved him in Inception, 50/50, and Don Jon, each of which show a different side of his talents. Here he shows a mix of several traits from those previous characters and proves once again that he’s one of the best young actors out there today. It was also great to see Mickey Rourke make a return as Marv in this film, as he was my favorite character in the first movie. I was also impressed by Eva Green’s performance as Ava Lord, which was oozing with all the right kind of cheese that a role like that requires. Another performance that surprised me in this movie was Jessica Alba’s role as Nancy. Alba wasn’t that impressive in the first film, and wasn’t given a huge role for that reason, but this new film really expands upon the psychological effects of what happened to Nancy in the previous film, a feat that Alba sells very well.
The direction and camerawork is great in this movie, just like it was in the first film. The stylized action give the movie the same unique feeling that people liked about the first Sin City. Everything is in black and white except for a few colors to enhance certain features of some characters, a decision that almost excuses the subpar CGI in the movie. However, I do have to point out that there were some portions of Dwight’s segment that seemed unnecessary and didn’t need to be included. The narrative in this part seemed to drag on a bit because of the editing choices that were made, and because of this, some of the violence felt superfluous instead of essential.
The violence in A Dame to Kill For is just as fun as what we see in the first Sin City, even if it isn’t as effective. I thought that the first Sin City had a Tarantino-esque feel to the gore onscreen; everything that we saw was shocking, disturbing, and most importantly, essential to the plot. In this film, most of what we see is old news. Unfortunately, there has been almost a full decade for the “shock” bar to be raised since the first Sin City, making most of the more gory parts of this movie less jarring. Not only that, but there were many scenes in which the violence onscreen didn’t seem necessary, and lost a bit of the first movie’s style. Still, it’s awesome to see Devon Aoki’s character, Miho, go on a slaughter countless security guards with her swords and shurikens.
The writing is exactly what you would expect if you had seen the first film. The comic book-style inner monologues are all over the movie, and for the most part, they work well. Once in awhile, it seems like the inner monologues are an unnecessary addition to what we already see onscreen. I understand that this is what many people enjoy about these films because it is so true to the graphic novel, but I can’t justify insulting the viewer by having the character describe what I’m seeing just because it’s trying to have the feel of the source material. This wasn’t a constant problem throughout the film, but it crept up enough times for me to mention it.
I really enjoyed the Nancy and Johnny segments of the film. Both of these characters were fleshed out into well-developed, believable individuals whom I really connected with. The Dwight segment lacked some of that depth, despite the fantastic direction during the segment. I think that the whole movie might have been more enjoyable if a half hour was cut out of Dwight’s story and more screen time was given to Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is an enjoyable film for fans of the first movie. We see all of our favorite characters from the 2005 original, and are introduced to some interesting new ones. If you weren’t a fan of the first movie, I don’t know why you would have any interest in this one at all, but for fans looking for more highly stylized neo-noir action, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a pretty fun trip to the theater.