What it's about:
Returning once again to the stylish-noir world on Frank Miller's Sin City, we meet old faces and new as their paths cross and criss-cross in often deadly ways.
What we thought:
As I haven't revisited the first Sin City in film in many a year, nor having caught up with any of the comics in even longer, I'm not sure if my lukewarm reaction to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a result of my having outgrown the property or if, very simply, this sequel just isn't anywhere near as good as the first film. Either way, though it certainly has its pleasures – even if those pleasures are more often that not on the guilty side – A Dame to Kill For is a definite misfire.
To be sure, even if the first film was genuinely good (and I am starting to have my doubts), it was always about style over substance and, for all of its cool stylistic tricks, it was always more of a transliteration than an adaptation of its comic book source. In the case of Sin City though, this was far from the end of the world.
The best noir does tend to pack at least some sort of emotional punch and/ or have something interesting to say about the society in which we live (see, for example, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' brilliant noir comic book series, Criminal, or Raymond Chandler's novel masterwork, The Long Goodbye) but it has always been a genre that revels in pulpy plots, archetypal characters, tough-guy dialogue and beautifully bombastic narration – and Sin City had all of these in spades... Sam Spades even.
It wasn't even that big of a problem that co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez didn't actually bother to adapt Miller's original works for the screen because unlike something like, oh I don't know, Watchmen, the Sin City comics actually work as storyboards for a feature film.
At least, none of this really seemed to be a problem at the time. On the evidence of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, however, not only do I think none of this actually holds up the second time round, I'm even starting to doubt if it did the first time either. It's just that kind of sequel.
A Dame To Kill For is a shallow, empty-headed mess of a film that attempts to mash together the highly respected comic-book arc of the title with new material that Miller (under) wrote specifically for the film, but it's biggest crime is just how naff it all seems. All the tasty noir ingredients are present and accounted for but all the stylized, over-the-top violence and beautiful but deadly (and often quite naked) femme fatales can't quite hide the fact that A Dame to Kill For comes across like an unintentional self-parody.
The hard-boiled dialogue mostly comes across as laughable, the hyper-violence tired and the production values cheap, but the whole thing is made worse by the fact that it seems to lack a certain self-awareness, not to mention a sense of humour. It's like it's so desperate to be the very cutting edge of cool that it utterly fails to notice everyone sniggering at it every time it turns its back. In the face of all this, that A Dame to Kill For makes a convoluted mess of its really overly simple plot lines and totally under-uses its top-notch cast, are almost minor missteps by comparison.
Die hard fans may well find more to properly enjoy and it ticks enough of the old age-restriction-category boxes to ensure that it doesn't bore at least its straight, male audience but this is no neo-noir classic-in-the-making. Mark this down as one comic-book-movie sequel that was very much not worth the wait.
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