'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For' can't top predecessor

(Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company) (Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company)

When Robert Rodriguez brought the world of Frank Miller’s “Sin City” graphic novels in 2005, he managed to make not only one of the best comic book adaptations ever, but to create and draw viewers into a world where nearly everything was computer-generated apart from the actors and their props.

Released in black and white and using the graphic novels as storyboards, Rodriguez literally brought a comic book to life by transferring the pages to the screen almost seamlessly.

Now, after nearly a decade, Rodriguez has returned to Miller’s world, only this time, he does so with much more of middling result. “A Dame To Kill For” features four stories, three of which follow returning characters and one focusing on a new one.

The film opens with “Just Another Saturday Night,” which follows Marv (Mickey Rourke, who once again is absolutely perfect as the brute with nearly super human strength) basically just being Marv and trying to retrace his steps in order to figure out what kind of havoc he wreaked that night.

This story is followed by “The Long Bad Night,” the first of two original stories Miller wrote for the film. The second story centers on Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a gambler who gets way more than he bargained for when he goes toe-to-toe with the twisted Senator Roark — once again portrayed by Powers Boothe.

Third comes the titular story “A Dame To Kill For,” which is a prequel to the first film’s story “The Big Fat Kill.” It features Josh Brolin as Dwight, who was portrayed by Clive Owen in the 2005 film, trying to escape the grasp of Eva Green’s Ava Lord — the ultimate femme fatale.

Closing out the film is “Nancy’s Last Dance,” the second original story in the comic books and the one which I personally felt was the weakest of the four tales. This was the weakest piece despite having the closest relationship to the first “Sin City” film and allowing several character arcs to come full-circle. It follow’s Basin City’s favorite erotic dancer Nancy, played by Jessica Alba, in her hunt to see the Roark family pay for causing Hargitan — Bruce Willis, who returns in several absurd drunken visions by Nancy — to kill himself.

Once again, the cast gives top-notch performances all around the board. Rourke owns every line and action he delivers as Marv. Seeing him return was one of the best aspects of the film. Boothe performs well as Roark, smiling maniacally and hamming up every over the top bad guy line supplied to him by Miller. Newcomers Brolin and Levitt are both strong, but Green steals the show. Her character, Lord, exudes sexiness, uses it as a weapon even, and Green nails the performance.

All of this is not to say that the film is without its problems. I’m all for good film noir, which when done correctly toes the line of over-the-top cheesy and not being taken too seriously quite finely, but moments in the film are on the verge of laughable.

One such scene involved Lord in the bath, trying to seduce a male cop into having sex with her. Is it corny? Absolutely. Does it fit in a film noir? Yes. But it’s just so untimely, out of place and awkwardly written it’s almost cringe worthy.

The same can be said for scene's involving Nancy's drunken benders. The scenes are so awkwardly written that they toe the line of being at the very least cringe inducing and possibly on the verge of being unwatchable.

All-in-all though, while it may not have been the film die-hard fans were hoping to see, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is still a fun, violent and stylish ride. While it can’t quite live up to the first film, it’s still absolutely worth a watch.


Contact this reporter at seweinst@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @S_Weinstein95

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.