Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosarion Dawson, Powers Boothe, Eva Green, Bruce Willis
Released: 22nd August 2014 (US), 25th August 2014 (UK)
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first – if you weren’t a fan of the previous Sin City movie, then A Dame to Kill For is unlikely to change your mind. Not in the slightest. On the flip side however, if you found yourself enjoying Rodriguez and Miller’s 2005 offering, then you’re definitely going to find a lot to like about its (eventual) sequel. Essentially, what we have here is more of the same hyper-stylised visuals, cartoony ultraviolence and gritty noir narrative that made the original movie such a hit. Despite the nine year(!) gap between the two films, almost nothing has changed in the structure, tone and visual style of the movie, to the point where they could almost be viewed as one extended four-hour long film; which, in a lot of ways, isn’t necessarily bad thing.
Where it falls down somewhat compared to its predecessor is in the fact that several of the storylines here lack the emotion and creative ‘oomph’ of the previous movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts in a solid shift as newcomer Johnny, although his story falls more than a little flat and doesn’t give him a tremendous amount to work with. Also, Josh Brolin – replacing Clive Owen in the role of Dwight – struggles to gain any real traction here, feeling almost like a supporting character in his own story (or should that be Eva Green’s story?).
It’s worth mentioning one of the significant improvements over the previous movie, too. Namely, the addition of the 3D format to the mix. This is a film that benefits hugely from the 3D treatment, and rather than bombarding the viewer with a lot of needless “ooh, look at that!” objects flying towards you, A Dame To Kill For instead uses the format to add an extra layer of depth to the backgrounds, making the characters pop right off the screen and enhancing the already gorgeous visuals.
The ensemble cast runs the gamut from thrilling to forgettable, with several notable standouts along the way; firstly, Mickey Rourke’s Marv continues to steal pretty much every scene he’s a part of, and provides a unifying – and often hilariously violent – thread throughout the various stories. Similarly, Eva Green provides an electrifying presence as twisted femme fatale Ava, even if it’s difficult to complement her performance without seeming like a misogynistic pervert given her near-constant nudity. Finally, Powers Booth puts in a gloriously detestable shift as Senator Roark, portraying the smirking, sadistic scumbag to perfection and making it almost impossible not to find yourself rooting for him to get what’s coming to him.
Overall, while it doesn’t quite hit the high standard of the first movie, there’s still a lot to like here for fans of the original, or of the comicbook source material. However, with initial reports suggesting that this film is in big trouble at the box office, I can’t help but think that the nine year gap between films (not to mention the audience-limiting 18 rating) are playing a massive hand in that. This isn’t a bad film by any means, nor is it a particularly great one, but for a couple of hours of trashy, noir fun, you could definitely do a hell of a lot worse.
And speaking of Sin City, don’t forget you can win yourself a copy of Dark Horse Comics’ Frank Miller: The Art of Sin City by entering our Facebook competition. The winner will be announced on the 29th of August, so make sure to get involved!
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says