The first Sin City movie was a stunning marvel of a movie when it was first released. It stayed true to the original gritty noire vision of the comic, which at the time was new and refreshing nearly 10 years ago. Now Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller bring us back to that dark and gritty comic world. Do they remain faithful to the stories of Sin City? Does the style still hold up? For the most part yes it does, but its not without its flaws.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is based on four different stories. Just Another Saturday Night, and A Dame to Kill For have been in the comics before, while The Long Bad Night, and Nancy’s Last Dance are new stories written just for the film. They try to bridge all of these different stories together, but in my opinion it really just doesn’t completely work, whether you’re a fan of the comics or not.
The main story A Dame to Kill For revolves around Ava, the dame, and Dwight who was in the first film played by Clive Owen, but is now played by Josh Brolin. If you aren’t a comic fan this won’t make sense because obviously these 2 people look nothing alike. The problem with trying to interweave all of these stories together in the way that they have is that they lose a sense of time. The story in the first Sin City movie starring Clive Owen is supposed to be one of the later stories in the Sin City timeline. A Dame to Kill For takes place before most of that. Minor spoilers here, but something happens to Dwight where he has to have reconstructive surgery and he has to go from looking like someone Josh Brolin to looking like Clive Owen. In the original Sin City movie they actually make reference to Dwight showing up with his new face a few times, but they never explain. It would have been better if they could have gotten Clive Owen to come back in the later part of the movie to play Dwight, instead of trying to make Josh Brolin look more like Clive Owen. It just looked a little ridiculous.
The film starts out with the story of Just Another Saturday Night, which is a short story about Marv, being Marv and going psycho on some college kids that definitely deserved it. Marv’s role was reprised by Mickey Rourke who doesn’t look that different then he did in the original 9 years ago. I don’t think he moves as well as he did back then, but he’s still pretty awesome. Just Another Saturday Night takes up maybe 10 minutes of screen time and feels a little shoe horned into the movie as it doesn’t really relate to the other stories other than to showcase how crazy, and tough Marv is.
A Dame to Kill For is about Ava, played by Eva Green, coming back into Dwight’s life looking for help to escape her abusive husband. Dwight being the white knight he is, goes in to help and gets a lot more than he bargained for. The story is retold very faithfully in a shot for shot recreation of the comic book. If you have read the comics then you will know that Ava is naked A LOT in the story. Eva Green definitely isn’t shy about being nude. I would say you see her topless (and often bottomless), or in something see through nearly 75% of the time she’s on screen.
Aside from the change in actors for Dwight, they also changed several other actors. Unfortunately one was out of necessity. Michael Clarke Duncan played Manute in the first Sin City, but due to his unfortunate passing back in 2012 they had to replace him with Dennis Haysbert. I was a bit skeptical of this decision at first because those 2 men are physically nothing alike. Michael Clarke Duncan was a massive scary looking individual. Dennis Haysbert is a friendly enough looking guy that he’s played the President on 24. Haysbert does an ok job. I like his acting, but I never completely believe that he’s as strong as they make him out to be. Miho who was originally played by Devon Aoki, was replaced by Jamie Chung. This change really didn’t make a huge difference to me since it’s a non-speaking roll anyway. Miho was just as bad ass in this film as she was in the first. Actually I think she might have been better here. Devon Aoki recently gave birth to another baby, which is presumably why she wasn’t back in this film. She will however be seen in the next season of Arrow as Katana.
The Long Bad Night is one of the original stories starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny. Johnny is a lucky gambler that just can’t lose. He gets into a card game with Powers Boothe, reprising his role as Senator Roark, and makes a giant mistake. It’s a really interesting story, but ultimately goes nowhere, and doesn’t add much to the overall story. That being said it was still kind of cool, and fun. I was really hoping for a better ending to this story, but I guess if it had a better one it would ruin the final story.
The last story, Nancy’s Last Dance is about Jessica Alba’s character dealing with the death of Hartigan in the first Sin City, and dealing with the ideas of vengeance. Unfortunately this was my least favorite story out of the 4. In part because it completely breaks the timeline of Sin City. In the original Sin City, Nancy was still dancing when Marv tried to take revenge for Goldie, and died. This new story makes it so that isn’t even possible. There are several other things it breaks story wise, but I don’t want to spoil things. It was an interesting story, but I couldn’t get past how it didn’t fit in anywhere. It also felt a lot more like a Robert Rodriguez story, than a Frank Miller story. Despite the fact that I don’t think it fit, and that it broke the timeline, it was a good end cap to the series. Chances are they won’t go back and make any more Sin City movies after this is done.
In the end I enjoyed the Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but I think it could have been better. There were a few edits I would have made, and I think it just didn’t flow well, but despite all that, it was still very entertaining. I saw this movie in 3D, and the first chunk of it that happened in the snow was really impressive, but after that I felt like it was mostly unnecessary because most of the scenes were dialog heavy talking heads. While I can’t say you have to see this movie in 3D, I do recommend seeing it on the big screen. Watching the style of the original Sin City on the small screen just doesn’t work as well as it does when it’s larger than life. Go see Sin City: A Dame to Kill For in theaters, but don’t get your expectations up too high.