Feb 16, 2015

[Movies] Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Despite my lack of familiarity with the source material, I rather enjoyed the first Sin City movie. It had a great feel to it and it was a rather modern celebration of what is essentially pulp noir style storytelling. And it's quite the grim and gritty world no matter how you look at it.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a sequel to the 2005 Sin City movie that's an interesting combination of original material written for the movie and adapted material from the comics. For one reason or another it didn't generate too much buzz when it hit theaters - or at least the buzz did not reach me for one reason or another. And I'd like to think that I typically in-tune with the latest geek franchise making its way to the silver screen.

There was something a little off in this sequel that I can't quite explain. For one reason or another, the movie just didn't feel quite as gripping as the first one and it feel short in many ways. But when you look at it, all the same elements from the first movie were there. They just didn't quite come together in a great way that could have made this movie more memorable.

Synopsis: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the 2014 sequel to the first Sin City movie. This was directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, given Frank also wrote the screenplay based on his original comic book series. Miller also wrote entirely new material just for this movie.

Like the first movie, this sequel follows several somewhat independent and yet also interconnected storylines throughout the course of the movie. In "Just Another Saturday Night" we once again find Marv (Mickey Rourke) in a lot of trouble when he wakes up surrounded by several dead individuals and with a crashed police car in the area. However he can't remember what happened to lead to such a grizzly scene apart from this most likely being Saturday since he watched Nancy (Jessica Alba) perform. In "The Long Bad Night" we meet Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a confident young gambler who manages to win it rather big at a casino. But when he gets into the backroom poker game with Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), his lucky streak rather gets him into trouble.

In "A Dame to Kill For" we meet Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin), a private detective who is trying to put his violent past well behind him. But he had no way to predict that his ex-lover Ava (Eva Green) would call asking for help. But when he does show up at the agreed upon meeting place, he doesn't have much time to talk to Ava before her boyfriends burly chauffeur Manute (Dennis Haysbert) shows up to take her home. And there's a final story involving Nancy, who is determined to get revenge for John Hartigan's (Bruce Willis) death in the first movie. But somehow Hartigan is still trying to watch over her from beyond the grave.

So on the surface, some of the stories in this movie had some really good hooks that at least sparked my initial interest. But then when everyone speaks in a gravely monotone almost all the time, it becomes too easy to tune out. And as much as this mechanic was present in the first movie, it just didn't seem quite as powerful this time around. It may be because vocal quality was too similar or they just didn't give each story enough time to really develop into something great.

The performances weren't too bad either when you really get down to it. Mickey Rourke is really comfortable in his skin as Marv and Joseph Gordon Levitt made for an interesting Johnny indeed. Josh Brolin had a nice intensity about him that really fit into the Sin City universe, although at times his performance felt oddly similar to Marv. I miss Bruce Willis providing some lighter contrast to things, but we don't always get what we want.

I was expecting a lot more from Eva Green but instead she came across as really, really cold. And while part of it may be because of the character she was portraying, at the end of the day it still felt flat and overly unemotional. And given how her scenes involve a lot of manipulating empathy and expression along with quite a bit of nudity, you expect her to have more of an on-screen presence. But instead she often felt like a non-entity, just there for the plot but not actually a strong character with true relevance in the story.

The movie has a lot of gratuitous action, nudity and sec, which is par for the course when it comes to such action adventure thrillers like this one. But something about the execution of things again fell short, leaving us with a rather lackluster movie. Maybe it's a question of fight choreography or perhaps even story selection that hampered things. Maybe the art direction could only copy the general style of the first movie since it instead felt a little jilted and off-key.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For was just okay but wasn't exactly the strong follow-up this franchise needed. It really didn't have as a strong a presence on-screen and the character stories just didn't quite feel as strongly impactful. Thus I can only rate them as 2 needlessly bloody fight scenes out of a possible 5.

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