The colour palette is the same, the characters look familiar but nothing of what made Sin City the cult hit it became are present in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Sin City 2). We're back in Basin City (hold the Ba), where the classical noir meets exploitation faffing about doing wretched things or punishing the wretched for doing appropriately deplorable behaviour. Oh and Eva Green's 'Dame to Kill For' Ava* being as naked as is humanly possible.
As a general rule you don't always want to have to directly compare sequels to their predecessors, but Sin City 2 was so mind-numbingly bad that it forced me to reappraise my memory of the original to qualify what made that film special.
It's really all about the order of things. This film feels directed by Frank Miller and not Robert Rodriguez, while the original Sin City felt guided by Mr Rodriguez and Mr Miller was a creative guide (with guest direction from Quentin Tarantino). Mr. Rodriguez, for the criticisms that may be applied to his work, has a chest thumping, evocative action aesthetic that really peaked with Desperado and the original Sin City. There are no limitations of where a camera can go to immerse you into this comic book world when you're dropping performers into green screen sound stages to conjure up the environments that they'll eventually be inserted into. The vibrant, purposefully contrasted and framed shots of performers becoming living art in the original is replaced with static, tried and really boring construction of every damned scene; except for the soft core porn level slow motion shots of nude Ms. Green.
There really aren't any characters that you remotely care for this time around. Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Miller were able to mine the original stories for maximum affect, giving Hartigan (Bruce Willis) played Nancy’s (Jessica Alba) protector against that yellow bastard, and Marv (Mickey Rourke) fought armies of henchman to extinguish that serial killer predator, and senator’s son Kevin (played by Elijah Wood).
Josh Brolin's Dwight is a confusing entity. For anyone who isn't a monstrous fan of the comics or the original film, is going to be confused as hell a) remembering or b) caring, that his character is actually the character that Clive Owen refused to return to reprise. Mr. Rourke feels bored playing the hulking Marv, which doesn't matter because his apathetic, gargantuan, unstoppable sociopath provides the rare highlights of the film. Joseph Gordon Levitt's Johnny lacks any of the intensity and commitment for such a nihilistic character.
Mr. Willis' Hartigan is relegated to City of Angels ghost duty, stalking around Jessica Alba's Nancy, growing. Also, Nancy, the stripper, is the only clothed woman in this ridiculously contradictory film. I know, I even hate myself for trying to apply reason to Mr. Miller's text at this point. You can poke a stick at a bunch of tragically under-utilised actors Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd and Juno Temple.
Sin City 2 utilises the last unused original story and brand new story threads written especially for the screen. It's clear that Mr. Miller has tried to plaster together the sawdust that remained after the original and stretch it into a cohesive whole. It feels more like someone doing an impression of the original stories rather than an expansion.
Sin City 2 features Ms. Green naked in a shallow bath, riding Mr. Brolin like an unbroken horse, and emerging from pools naked or swimming naked or something. I can't actually be sure that anything else happened.
*Yes that's her goddamned character's name.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to legacy audio reviews on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Written by: Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Jaime King, Juno Temple, Stacy Keach
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.