Let me start off by saying that I absolutely adore the original ‘Sin City’ film, it is actually my second favourite film ever. Needless to say I was not looking forward to ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ for numerous reasons, so I went in to the film not expecting anything fantastic but that I would still be entertained. While it is entertaining for the most part it definitely has a lot of issues.
Firstly, let’s talk about the overall look of the film, in the original ‘Sin City’ the use of colour was perfectly executed, every time colour was introduced it popped and enriched the scene immensely, in ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ not once did any of the colours pop or excite me like they did in the original. In fact some of the colouring effects were very badly done that it just threw me out of the film. There was also an overabundance of the ‘white out’ effect which again was distracting and often ruined the particular scene. However, one extremely clever use of colour was with Eva Green’s character, Eva’s lipstick, when she was being passionate or seductive, her bright red lipstick popped in colour, whereas in other scenes where she was being herself or more cunning, the colour reverted back to monochrome. I absolutely love that idea and gave the film huge props for that, but then it threw those props away.
The actors and characters, save for a few, were infinitely weaker than their predecessors in the original ‘Sin City’. Josh Brolin was fine as Dwight but Clive Owen absolutely owned the role in the original, I appreciate that the character has heavy plastic surgery so it explains the change in the actor but Owen just brought so much more personality and flair to the role that I was sad to learn that he would not be returning. Even Mickey Rourke who plays Marv seemed off, it could be the change in make-up, age or a bad script or directing, it just wasn’t the Marv everyone loved from the first Sin City film, he was still far and away the best character in this film, but he felt duller this time around. Finally, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I absolutely believe in his roles in (500) Days of Summer, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises (To an extent, fuck you Robin), but in this he was extraordinarily arrogant and cocky that I just saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt trying to be “cool” and considering that you are supposed to feel empathy for his character is a huge drawback as I felt myself wishing he would die painfully for being a smug prick. The entire cast felt like a distilled version of the previous cast, Jessica Alba was awful, Bruce Willis was wasted, Rosario Dawson was ridiculously terrible, Jaime King was wasted as well.
The stories that comprise this film are also noticeably weaker, the most interesting one, which the film opens with is cut short just as soon as it started as it seemed like a great segment. The stories are dull, filled with bland characters and is very badly paced, in the original ‘Sin City’ the stories constantly moved along at a great pace with no dull moments and at a smidge over 2 hours it went by almost instantly, however, the pacing is so bad in ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ that while it is only 100 minutes long it seems like a 3 hour film, I was constantly checking my watch which is never a good sign.
The fact that half of the film was a prequel to the first film also meant that it suffered by having the audience know that certain characters could not die which also takes away the slight edge of suspense the film is attempting to deliver.
This film feels like Rodriguez was trying to improve the original ‘Sin City’ the way he “improved” ‘Machete Kills’, an unnecessary amount of CGI instead of practical effects and making it more goofy. It doesn’t work, I thought ‘Machete’ was great, so much ridiculous fun, ‘Machete Kills’ was not fun, same goes for this film, ‘Sin City’ was phenomenal, ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ was not. It does seem that Rodriguez has a problem with sequels as ‘Desperado’, ‘Spy Kids 2’, ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ and ‘Machete Kills’ were all far weaker than their predecessors. Which is a shame as I am a huge fan of a lot of Rodriguez’s films; ‘El Mariachi’, ‘Planet Terror’, etc. If only he could learn that bigger does not equal better then cinema would be better for it.
The soundtrack is also very weird and absolutely not fitting within the scenes, it seems like a fan edit of the film with someone placing, admittedly decent score from a different film and layering it, poorly, over the action scenes in ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ it’s jarring and very amateurish.
Some of the action was very well choreographed and captured and was reminiscent of the original and the dialogue, for the most part was very much a continuation of ‘Sin City’ and that style, which makes sense as Frank Miller has both a writing and directing credit on both films, but like I said previously, everything just seems like a blunt dinner knife compared to the sharp edge of the original.