DM Haight


The unfortunate reality we must all face at some point or another is that there is no way we can prepare for a second go around. Ten years after the fact and we imagine the nostalgia will hold up and grip us. In pro wrestling we know Hulk Hogan is a god. But we also know that watching him ten years ago was nothing like watching him twenty or thirty years ago. It’s definitely not the same today. The same can be said of any established franchise. Indiana Jones put his hat back on, but his return to the silver screen left more popcorn tossing than whip cracking. The fan boys didn’t like it. Nor will they like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

It only comes around once in a great while that a director can go from making a cult classic like Sin City, based off an already infamous comic series about violence, corruption, and sex, and then make a movie that not only kills the joy from its predecessor, but makes the directors look like jokes. It was built to succeed. Fantastic visuals, black and white with perfect pops of color, simple makeup designs, over the top stories, great action, campy. Perfection caught on film. Every person who ever enjoyed a noir could enjoy that film on some level. Its first installment was the personal favorite of every high schooler. Not just for the graphic nature of the film, but because the stories were not only intriguing, but played through with actors who were on the top of their game, making enormous films, or on the cusp of doing so.

Sin City 2 on the other hand, is stacked with actors who haven’t been in a mainstream film in years, many of whom are bored with the script they’re reciting, leaving nothing for the fans of the film to enjoy. The likes of Rosario Dawson are fixtures in the back ground, hardly there with purpose. Several characters have been replaced—some because of death, like Duncan’s role being given to Dennis Haysbert. Others, like Clive Owen and Devon Aoki, were right to steer clear of the mess they were heading for in Dwight and Miho, respectively. Dwight, being reduced to a relentlessly idiotic, mindless, and ignorant man leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Miho might as well be forgotten. She’s barely an afterthought.

That’s not to say Josh Brolin did not perform well. I’m sure he did fantastic for Frank Miller and Rodriguez. Both of whom have pushed out more camp than a Schumacher Batman flick. How is it entertaining to watch a bare knuckled Marv grip a taxi for five minutes while he runs down the list of reasons to kill? Why can’t he just lose the low humor and return to the Marv we all loved? You know, the one who killed a serial killer with his bare hands in revenge. The one who fought off guard dogs and died in the electric chair. Twice. How does it come to pass that Mickey Rourke goes from badass to plain bad in just two films? The over use of CGI definitely doesn’t help. The looney antics of a Marv gone wild are at least partially result of a more intense focus on CGI and green screens. This is a case of bigger not being better. Not even close. In the first ten minutes of the movie you know it’s not the Sin City you wanted to return to. It’s Joel Schumacher’s Gotham.

The big selling point of the film is sex. All sorts of nudity and scantily-clad women in strip clubs and Old Town. But it’s not the sex the film needs. Being naked for the sake of being naked does not make your film better or more edgy. It’s 2014. Eva Green’s goods were released for all to see more than a decade ago. Is it appealing to see Green bare all again? Yes. But it’s not the tilting point on the scale of bad or good for the film.

A better script with believable lines and fewer hokey and clunky phrases would have sufficed over the indulgence of gratuitous nudity and excessively silly violence. With a writer like Miller and a director of Rodriguez’s caliber, we were right to hope that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For would lend more to the legends and legacies of the first. But Alba’s Nancy looks annoyed to be there, Willis’ Hartigan is spectral for all the wrong reasons, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny, although intriguing, is left having his chapter mean nothing. Maybe that was the point, but if it was it was made poorly through inconsistent directing and half-hearted writing.

It’s a shame that A Dame to Kill For is so detached from what its predecessor was. Instead of expecting more of the same, an expansion, and maybe new, interesting characters, we should have been anticipating the complete demolition of what was. Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez let us down again. Next time, I can’t say I’ll bother expecting much.

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