The first Sin City is the definition of modern film noir. It was gritty, violent and gruelling, with a touch of class. And the atmosphere, the look of the film was unlike anything else we had seen before. Every single shot just looked like a piece of art, crafted with the finest detail in terms of colour and style. It was all just stunning. Nine years on and finally a sequel has come out. This might come as a surprise to many because even though Sin City is a series of comics the first one really felt like a standalone film. There wasn’t that much to suggest that a sequel was necessary, and now that we’ve got one, what should we think of it.
Similarly to the first Sin City, it’s made up of several stories of killers, queens (not the royal sort), losers and hookers. Marv is now targeting the richer citizens of the city, Dwight struggles with the woman he can’t get over, Nancy wants vengeance and a gambler is on a mission. So what can you expect, it keeps the same basic formula as the first film, the same dark style and gritty storylines. The visuals are stretched up a bit more, firstly due to the advance in technology but especially the fact that audiences know what to expect, they can admire more of the added details now rather than having to focus on the entire film, as I said before it was completely unexpected at the time.
These visuals have made the film as impressive as ever. CGI rain, cars being coloured and huge outstanding shadows all help to make it visually stunning. The acting is not ignored either, this is quite an ensemble cast, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. It’s all very impressive isn’t it, and they all give great performances, old faces have no difficulty settling back into their roles and new one’s force their way onto the scene and don’t give a s**t who stands in their way.
The story is partly adapted from the second Sin city novel, with two original stories thrown in, The Fat Loss and the Long Bad Night. They both feel slightly out of place, only very slightly, perhaps a different writing style and different characterisations. But then again, it could just be due to the fact that I’m more familiar with the original series, but anyway I’m probably nit picking. To the untrained eye they probably feel identical to every other story. And they do mostly feel like it, they are welcome additions to the film and it would be hard to imagine A Dame To Kill For without them.
But there is the problem of, what else? Let me explain, sequels have to tell something new and offer something new. They’re not simple process, every element should be taken up a peg and more elements should be introduced after that. The sequels that have fared best over time have all done this. A Dame To Kill For has done this visually, but that’s about it. It’s not even a huge difference either, it’s all good but it feels like there should be… more. As a result you end the film rather dissatisfied. It might not look like a big problem compared to all the good stuff, but it makes all the good elements feel, not as good.
They seem more dated and simpler now. I think that they’ve been so focussed on recreating to feel of the first film nine years later that they’ve just created a carbon copy of it. Obviously the star factor is bigger and the effects are more dazzling. But the story, the action and the vibe can’t distact us from the flaws as much as they did last time. There were flaws in the first film, but we didn’t notice. The women are treated horribly, and the guys don’t come out looking any better, apart from Rourke, who just looks, well, regular, sorry Mickey.
The dialogue is still rather generic and despite the fact that individually they are all great actors, the main characters don’t interact that well either. Some have been very critical of this film, but I have to admit I really am stumped, in one sense I do want to be critical because it is essentially the first film with a different title and story. But on the other hand the same reason makes it look brilliant. To capture the essence so well, just short of a decade on is admirable.
If you liked the first one, and just want to see more Sin City action, then by all means check this film out. If you want to see new heights and boundaries being pushed even further into darkness and violence, then you may have to wait for another instalment.