Sin City: A Dame To Kill For Review

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The first film was not quite my cup of tea but I could appreciate it for its style and diverse range of casting. While the stylised black-and-white picture is still there, it loses its edge in this follow-up (nine years later) purely because we’ve seen it before. However, I thought the storylines were more fleshed out and I liked that there were more leading female characters.

The film is both a prequel and a sequel to the original and like its predecessor, there are three interwoven stories. Jessica Alba returns as Nancy Callahan, a stripper traumatised by the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) and is now depressed, an alcoholic and determined to avenge him by killing corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Roark is also involved in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s story. He wins against Roark at poker and soon regrets his choice. The main story focuses on Dwight McCarthy (now played by Josh Brolin) who is manipulated into committing murder by former lover and schemer Ava (Eva Green).

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While the stories are still pretty basic, I found them slightly more compelling this time around. You understood the character’s motivation more and it wasn’t an incessant stream of violence this time. Although there is still a lot (and some gruesome bits), the plot has more narrative, dialogue and characterisation (simplistic, but still) to flesh out its bones. The story selection is very similar to the original set and sticks to the general man-seeks-revenge type plot but it was executed better and there seemed to be better motives behind the violence.

The most redeeming factor was the strong female parts. Although the women are pretty tough in Sin City, they were all prostitutes and served to help men. The lack of proper female parts was very noticeable to me. Eva Green has changed that as the titular Dame. She is manipulative and uses men. She gets some of her own voiceover. Yes, she is naked for the majority of the film but she uses it for power. Also Alba’s character Nancy comes to the forefront of a revenge plot and ruins her beautiful looks as her mind slows goes nuts. I loved these parts. Besides that, Gordon-Levitt was a great addition to the cast and Mickey Rourke’s Marv produced the most laughs.

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We are used to the style but it does still look remarkable. I love the splashes of colour. I don’t think 3D was necessary and it was only noticeable in the opening credits and when characters jump through glass – which happens more than you would think. Some of the fight scenes were pretty ridiculous but I think that’s the whole point.

Creator Frank Miller said you could see this on its own but I would strongly suggest you re-watch the original. I watched the 2005 film two days before this and I still had to check to ensure I had got my head around the characters. It doesn’t help that some roles are being portrayed by different actors. For example, Devon Aoki has been replaced by Jamie Chung, Michael Madsen has been replaced by Michael Madsen and Michael Clarke Duncan’s character is now played by Dennis Haysbert – for obvious reasons (Duncan died in 2012). Brolin plays the same person as Clive Owen but the character Dwight had facial reconstruction – so sort of makes sense. It’s just a lot of changes to keep up with.

There are also very brief appearances from the likes of Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd and Lady Gaga – the latter of which causes a murmur of recognition throughout the audience. Basically, the film is an acquired taste. If you like the first film, you should see this because it is a slight improvement but if not, there really is no point.

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