Michael’s Review: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’- But is it A Film to Die For?

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It’s been nine years since Robert Rodriguez helped bring Frank Miller’s graphic novel Sin City to the big screen. A stylish, visually groundbreaking film that thrilled audiences and turned a little known comic into a household name while grossing over $150 million globally.  After announcing the sequel in 2006, each year brought questions as to when we would see the elusive film. Rodriguez and Miller had one hell of a time getting this sequel into theaters. Nine years is a long time to keep an audience waiting for a sequel. Was Sin City: A Dame to Kill For worth the wait?

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The film is sectioned into four acts, each acting as a chapter of life in Sin City,  a city where corruption runs rampant and violence is a way of life. Frank Miller adapted two stories (“Just Another Saturday Night” and ” A Dame to Kill For”) from his comic for this feature film while also adding two original stories (“The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance”) that do not appear in the Sin City comic series. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For acts as both a sequel and a prequel to the original film with interlinking stories and recurring characters.

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The film opens with Marv (Mickey Rourke) awakening from a car crash stricken with amnesia. The narrative discusses the events of the previous evening as they come back to Marv. A night that started at Kadies’ Saloon watching Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) and ended with bodies laying all around and cars mangled together like a pretzel; the carnage.  “Just Another Saturday Night” for Marv.

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Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cocky young gambler, arrives in Sin City with aspirations of making a name for himself. He arrives at Kadie’s Saloon where he enters a backroom poker game hosted by the powerful Senator Roarke (Powers Booth). After Johnny cleans out the Senator and realizes that his life is in danger, he must find a way to make sure that Sin City will always remember his name. It’s a “Long Bad Night” for Johnny.

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Dwight (Josh Brolin) is a private detective with a violent past. A man living a life of sobriety while battling to suppress the demons fighting to get out. After receiving a phone call from his former lover Ava Lord (Eva Green), a woman who left him for a wealthy businessman four years ago, Dwight reluctantly agrees to meet Ava at Kadie’s Saloon. Ava tells Dwight that she fears for her life from her husband Damion (Marton Csokas) and chauffeur Manute (Dennis Haysbert). Although still hurt from the betrayal all those years ago, Dwight decides he must rescue Ava from this life, but is she a “Dame to Kill For”?

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Four years after her encounter with Yellow Bastard, Nancy is still picking up the pieces of her life. Trying to cope with the suicide of John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), Nancy has turned to alcohol to cope with her day to day existence, her obsessed with vengeance on Senator Roarke beginning to take a stronger hold. Having witnessed Nancy’s downward spiral, Marv steps in and volunteers to help her kill Roarke. With revenge on her mind, will this be “Nancy’s Last Dance”?

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The elements that made the original film so successful are present here with very little changes, and to be honest, none really were needed. Visually, Rodriguez and Miller have created another stunning film that is an absolute joy to watch. The visual effects coupled with the stylized violence make Sin City: A Dame to Kill For a must see movie for fans of the original film. Frank Miller does a really fantastic job bringing his stories, both old and new, to the screen. The dialog and narrative give the audience just enough substance to accompany the visual spectacle. The cinematography of the film is again, flawless. Robert Rodriguez brings Sin City to life with such care and precision. Guess it doesn’t hurt to have the creator on set breathing down your neck each day.

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The acting is spectacular with Rourke, Brolin and Gordon-Levitt as standouts in the lead roles of  their respective stories. Jessica Alba brings a side of herself to Nancy we’ve rarely, if ever, have seen from the veteran actress. Eva Green is phenomenal. Her portrayal of a woman who always gets what she wants is seductive and haunting. Very few actresses can appear nude on screen yet depict such a command. Green has become one of the finer actresses in Hollywood over the past year and this film solidifies her reign as the quintessential femme fatale. And can I just say that Powers Boothe is a creeper? ‘Cause he is. He plays the villain like few others. A true depiction of corruption and evil. A wonder to watch.

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My one real issue with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is that the stories don’t flow very well between each other. “Just Another Saturday Night” was entertaining for its visual aesthetics, but the doesn’t really offer much in the way of continuity to the overall story. “The Long Bad Night” had so much promise. The story had a purpose to the overall story, and the acting was stupendous, but payoff was disappointing. I really was looking forward to seeing more of Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s character. “Nancy’s Last Dance” and “A Dame to Kill For” really saved this film.

Overall, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For delivers a visually stunning sequel that stands as a nice compliment to the original film. This is one film you must see in theaters to get the full effect

Stars: 3 1/2 out of 5