When Sin City was released way back in 2005 its mode of address was so striking – retro, aesthetically unique, violent – it got instant attention. Even with the same assets on show, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For barely garnered the same sort of notice. Even with the star-studded cast (adding Eva Green, Josh Brolin and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to the Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis stock) and a bigger budget, there is little there to make the sequel/prequel any more fanciful.
The stand out aspect is the titular Dame, played with corrosive charm by Eva Green. Gorgeous and commanding, Green takes control over her chapter in the film, shadowing the rest of the cast, giving Josh Brolin only a slight chance to shine. Physicality in Sin City is continually fascinating (from Mickey Rourke’s square-shaped Marv, to the fluid dancing of Jessica Alba) with Green’s voluptuous body on show, making every rough-edged man weak from the sight of her. The noir element to Sin City is best on show with Green’s femme fatale story (the eponymous Dame to Kill For part of this film), so heavily harking back to the likes of Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck.
The issue with Sin City for film fans opposed to movie fans is the narrative only lends itself to violence, not story. Most action and reaction is based around someone getting their face smashed in (and this happens mind-numbingly often). The first film worked more effectively because the graphic nature was fast and spread out across the plot. Moments of shock would come in the first outing, somewhat levelled in the aesthetic; here it is all shameless. Remember that lingering notion of attack in Elijah Wood’s Kevin segment in number one? Well, Dame to Kill For relies on Powers Boothe for that and the terror is never felt. Nearly every chapter is a quest for blood – a boring basis for entertainment. There is only so much you want to focus your attention on, and as a moth to Rodriguez and Millar’s cool-looking flame, you are soon blinded by it all.
The fact that Robert Rodriguez directs, composes and edits the film earns him a lot of kudos. Respect must be given, first and foremost however, to his cinematography. The reason Sin City worked, and A Dame to Kill For was made, can be attributed to the way it looks. There are very few films using the same style as brandished here, and Rodriguez is a talented fellow for bringing the graphic novel to such life.
If you are a fan of the first and want to see more, this will certainly please. Those merely interested in seeing the progression of the story and style will also enjoy. Nevertheless, there is no direct call to watch A Dame to Kill For; it is a fan-boy appendage for the most part.