Screened Out – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

By : Stephen Miller
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Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Powers Booth

It was a dark and stormy night in Sin City – a night too much like the first time we wandered into this wicked, twisted cartoon town nine years ago.

This current chapter continues the nifty noir style of the first flick. Besides that, A Dame to Kill For doesn’t offer much reason to see it.

Some fans may appreciate even more film-noir and graphic novel violence-slash-visuals. Frame after frame is bold black and white – even animation – with lurid splashes of color. Mostly blood, some sex, but mostly blood. The characters are appealingly broad and cartoonish. The dialogue is of the scene-chewing variety: “She glides out of her coat like it was Christmas wrapping.” The gory story, however, is too scattershot. This little pic desperately cries for cleverness, cohesion.

That’s not to say co-directors Roberto Rodriguez (Spy Kids, From Dusk Till Dawn) and Frank Miller, the author of the original material, don’t try to introduce more visual panache. Perhaps they should’ve spent more time on the script.

Don't under-estimate the violence; even pretty Joseph Gordon-Leavitt gets tortured.

Don’t under-estimate the violence; even pretty Joseph Gordon-Leavitt gets tortured.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For delivers a few more dark chapters from the underbelly of this dark city. Each short tale is lightly connected to a dirty, gruesome cartoon version of L.A. Rourke is still the lunkheaded, violent Marv, always aching for a fight. Brolin is Dwight, a man who fell for the wrong woman (Green). Gordon-Leavitt is a young gambler searching for redemption. Alba is a stripper bent on revenge.

Their stories weave in and out of each other. They don’t mix. Together, these anecdotes represent a metropolis terminally infected – gangsters, gamblers, ghosts, murderers, crooked politicians, corrupt cops, and sneaky sex workers.

The original was such a revelation in style, a black-and-white (mostly black) graphic novel come to life. A Dame to Kill For is more of the same. At least it takes artful advantage of new computer graphics, green screen technology, and film tricks to nudge its vision slightly forward.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

The problem is that the story isn’t that much different from the original. Except this time, everything feels a little more disconnected. Chopped up. The chapters only barely overlap, and almost all of them lack a satisfying sense of closure. There are half a dozen elaborate battle sequences, and the final flight doesn’t quite live up to earlier tumbles.

The bullets fly, the blood flows, the world explodes, the city burns, and double dealing is dealt all around. But it’s just another day in Sin City. Like any other. I’m thinking you’d be happier visiting some other place.

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