I’m a big fan of the Sin City comics and a huge fan of the first Sin City movie. With that in mind, I had fairly big expectations going into Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. That said, I wasn’t expecting it to outdo its predecessor — the first movie’s source material is just superior. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For uses two of Frank Miller’s existing stories (one of which is only okay) and two new ones. While it’s certainly not as good as the first film, it’s my favorite movie of 2014 thus far. Let’s take a look at Sin City: A Dame to Kill For using the tried and true RPadTV binary system. [Light spoiler shields, activated!]
3D or Not 3D (Good): Sin City: A Dame to Kill For starts off with a fast-paced story called “Just Another Saturday Night” featuring the inimitable Marv. There’s not a lot going on as far a depth and character development, but the opening plot quickly pulls you back into the world of Sin City and shows off some phenomenal 3D special effects. Robert Rodriguez uses 3D similarly to how he uses color in the mostly black-and-white Sin City movies. 3D enhances the visuals and is part of the storytelling, not a tacked on afterthought like 3D used in most movies. That said, after “Just Another Saturday Night,” the 3D isn’t used as frequently or effectively, but for the first 10 minutes of the movie, it’s spectacular.
Not as Deadly Little Miho (Bad): While Jamie Chung did a decent job of replacing Devon Aoki as the wicked, katana-wielding Miho, she doesn’t quite measure up. Aoki was great in the role; her facial expressions were creepier and it helped that she looked so young. There’s something f#cked up about a baby-faced prostitute assassin that slices off heads as frequently and easily as most people open soda cans. Plus, I always got a kick out of Devon Aoki dispensing decapitations; in my head her inner voice says, “There’s your volcano, bitch!” (Aoki is the daughter of Rocky Aoki, founder of the Benihana chain of restaurants, home of the volcano onion.) Anyway, Chung did a passable job as Miho, but she wasn’t as nasty or as menacing as her predecessor.
Eva Green Owns (Good): Eva Green was — by far — the MVP of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Her character, Ava, was incredibly captivating. Visually, she stood out with her bright green eyes and deep red lips. Green’s performance was even more extraordinary. She made Eva beautiful, manipulative, seductive, alluring, deadly, cunning, and unbalanced. Ava is the type of woman that you find immensely attractive and scary as hell. She’s like a dazzling light that attracts moths. Men can see that it will end poorly for them, but her presence is irresistible. While the movie had several good performances, Eva Green’s was the most outstanding.
Odd Pacing (Bad): Although the movie clocks in at a relatively short 102 minutes, it feels longer. My good buddy Paul said that Sin City: A Dame to Kill For felt like it had one too many plot lines and was surprised when I told him the movie’s runtime. While I didn’t feel that the movie was too long, I understand people that feel otherwise. Perhaps because there’s so much packed into the 102 minutes, some moviegoers got viewer fatigue. There aren’t many slow moments in the film, but maybe it could have used some to give the viewer a break.
Beautiful Women (Good): If you’re a guy or gal that’s into beautiful women then there’s a lot to enjoy in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The movie is full of gorgeous, gorgeous ladies. Eva Green spends a good chunk of the movie naked. Jessica Alba spends a lot of time sexily dancing at Kadie’s Saloon. Rosario Dawson, Juno Temple, Jamie Chung, and Jaime King are just some of the other beautiful women in the film. It’s babetacular.
Manute II (Bad): As a huge fan of Dennis Haysbert (Cerrano 4 Life!!!), I felt bad that he was pegged to replace Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute. The late giant had a physical presence and booming voice that are impossible to duplicate. It was a no-win situation for Haysbert, but he did well — certainly better than Jamie Chung did replacing Devon Aoki. That said, Michael Clarke Duncan was a perfect role for Manute and Haysbert’s performance was certainly a step down.
The New Stuff (Good): As I mentioned in the intro, two of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’s storylines were written by Frank Miller just for the movie — “The Long Bad Night” and “Nancy’s Last Dance.” For the most part, they measure up well to Frank Miller’s other tales. I was pleasantly surprise by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “The Long Bad Night.” His performance was charming, though towards the end of the story it felt like he was channeling Bruce Willis’ character from the first Sin City film (too whiney). “Nancy’s Last Dance” was more enjoyable for me, though I fully admit that I’m completely smitten by Jessica Alba. I believe she’s the most beautiful MILF in the world and should be referred to as Milfimus Prime. What I enjoyed about both stories is that they both end with Pyrrhic victory. Both protagonists get what they want, but both pay a horrible price. These stories reminded me of why Dante from Clerks enjoyed Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, “It ends on such a down note. I mean, that’s what life is — a series of down endings.”
Bottom Line: While Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t as good as the original, I very much enjoyed it. As expected, the visuals were striking and phenomenal, with the 3D being unexpectedly fantastic. There are several strong performances in the movie and most of the storytelling is strong. I got exactly what I wanted from Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and then some. To my surprise, I enjoyed it more than Godzilla and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Checking out some other reviews, the movie is getting panned by people that feel that Frank Miller has become a misogynistic fascist. Fairly or unfairly, his political transformation has netted some negative reviews. For my part, I was ignorant of Miller’s political rantings going into the film and only learned about them yesterday. I haven’t had enough time to process them yet, but what I can say for sure is that I enjoyed Sin City: A Dame to Kill For more than any other movie I’ve seen this year.