SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR Review

by     Posted 122 days ago

sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for-review

In 2005, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller‘s Sin City was an interesting novelty.  The directors were able to transfer Miller’s visually distinct comics to the screen through the heavy use of CGI.  Not adapt; transfer.  The comic was used as a storyboard, and the directors filled in the gaps by casting a bunch of recognizable actors to play the roles.  For people who argue that adaptations should never stray from the source material, 2005′s Sin City was perfect.  Although the novelty has run its course, Rodriguez and Miller are back nine years later with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, but the visual panache now feels like a crutch while also diminishing any authentic noir vibe the movie occasionally tries to convey.  Although the sequel is occasionally enjoyable thanks to the actors who are in on the exaggerated tone, the film feels like it was made by a couple of teenagers who mistake whores for dames, sadists for toughs guys, and style for charm.

Like the first film, A Dame to Kill For features three stories that take place in “Sin City” (technically, it’s “Basin City”, but no one calls it that).  One features Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a gambler whose mind is on a bigger score than money; another features the stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) aiming to avenge the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis); and the “Dame to Kill For” is Eva (Eva Green), a scheming seductress who has Dwight (Josh Brolin) wrapped around her finger.  The stories are loosely connected by tough guy Marv (Mickey Rourke) and the villainous Senator Roark (Powers Boothe), both of whom function like blunt instruments in a world filled with sex, murder, narration, and people falling out of windows.

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Perhaps it’s because I read Sin City before seeing the first film that I was almost distracted by how faithfully the movie followed the graphic novels.  Having mostly forgotten the books nine years later, I was now willing to accept a Sin City movie on its own merits.  While I’m glad A Dame to Kill For has two original stories (only the Dwight/Eva plotline is from the book of the same name), they still feel like they came from the comics, and if that’s what you want, you’ll be satisfied.  There’s no reason Rodriguez and Miller should depart from the tone they’ve created except that the tone is tedious and self-congratulatory.

It’s difficult to tell how much the directors are in on the joke.  They occasionally seem to be aware of their highly stylized world and how that can give way to goofy results, especially as far as the violence is concerned.  Plenty of nameless henchman and bodyguards are decapitated, impaled, gunned down, but it’s fairly tame since the black-and-white palette makes blood look like milk.  The directors seem enamored of their violence to the point where they’re once again happy to bring in Miho (Jamie Chung), who shoots arrows and wields a samurai sword just because.  Rodriguez and Miller have no problem breaking their devotion to a noir tone if it means a hot girl can jump ten feet in the air and decapitate four guys.

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The cheap regard for human life could almost be considered macabre if the directors clearly weren’t taking so much glee in the cartoonish violence.  They seem to be working under the belief that violence is fun except when it’s time to get serious and human life now has value even though we’re constantly being told how cheap it is in Sin City (probably because people can run around with samurai swords and the senator spends all of his time being corrupt rather than doing any government work).  Rodriguez and Miller want to put noir on steroids, but that’s now how the genre works.  Noir is already exaggerated, but it’s with an air of tragedy.  The directors want the sex and violence with only a cheap nod to pathos.

Surprisingly, that approach works for a little while.  After the movie begins with a little prologue where Marv kills a bunch of sadistic frat boys because Marv is a badass or something, A Dame to Kill For launches into its first story, which features Johnny.  Gordon-Levitt has so much charm and charisma that he lures us into believing this is a real movie with characters worth caring about.  Johnny would be at home in a real noir, but he’s stuck in a movie where breaking fingers is done because it’s cool and yet another reminder that Sin City is an awful place where only powerful sadists like Marv and Roark are happy.

sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for-review

By the time we’re lugging ourselves through Dwight and Nancy’s storylines, we’ve already gotten the joke.  Put alongside his Machete movies, Rodriguez shows that his ideas are better suited to short films.  Less than halfway through, A Dame to Kill For is running on fumes and we’re laughing at it rather than with it.  The movie seems more concerned with showing Eva Green naked rather than forging anything close to a genuine relationship with Dwight.  The movie is too self-conscious to be parody and too childish to be taken seriously.

The story’s simple-mindedness is made abundantly clear with the movie’s treatment towards women.  The only women in Sin City are strippers, whores, and dupes.  But when it comes to the strippers and the whores, Rodriguez and Miller believe these women are empowered if you just load them up with weapons and let them go on killing sprees.  As for Eva, she could be a parody of the femme fatale except not only is Green playing an exaggerated archetype, but the filmmakers make her nude for almost a majority of her screen time.  They seem to be operating under the impression that Eva owns her sexuality and is using it as a weapon, but her nudity always feels like a service to the horny men in the audience rather than a commanding presence that demands respect.  The same goes for the whores of old town.  You can dress them up in dominatrix outfits, but that’s for the pleasure of the male audience, not the empowerment of the characters.

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For all of its overwrought touches, I don’t think Rodriguez and Miller are creating a satire.  There’s too much care in making the visuals look cool rather than understanding what those images convey.  The hard-boiled dialogue is at odds with narratives built around sex and violence that’s made to be titillating rather than dangerous.  There are funny lines, entertaining kills, and other little amusements scattered throughout, but Sin City is a playground, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is already played out before the dame even enters the picture.

Rating: D+

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  • opinionated asshole

    Is it really that bad?

    • lord jim

      it´s a question of personal taste, there is no objectivity when it comes to Frank Miller, and that is very much apparent with this review – Miller is just not everybodies cup of tea.I usually like Goldberg´s reviews, but in this case he just seems to be writing about his personal taste and political sensibilities, rather than the actual movie.If you liked the first one, I guess you´ll like the second one – A Dame To Kill For is one of Miller´s best books.Mickey Rourke absolutely owned Marv in the first one (while Bruce Willis was too cool – his character in the book is an old man who is absolutely not cool) and Eva Green is one of the best actresses working today (just watch Cracks, she would have deserved an Oscar, but sadly nobody watched that one) so I am in, and really don´t care for the reviews on this one.

      • Spanky

        Even though it’s one of his best books, by the review it sounds like 2 of the 3 stories are original to the movie… ?

      • lord jim

        I read in a Miller interview, that there are two new scenes, not stories – we´ll see.

      • Eskay

        So you haven’t even seen the movie yet, but you are drawing all of these conclusions already? Huh?
        Goldberg saw the movie….you have not. LOL

      • lord jim

        Huh?yeah, a sequel, same directors, same writer, same place and characters, and I´m making “all of these conclusions already”, are you kidding me?the first one was the closest adaption of a comic book ever made, and i read the books, so you really think the second one is gonna be a different kind of beast?and the problems goldberg is talking about are basically the same problems he would be talking about regarding the books – it is a matter of taste and sensibilities.An example:The dame is naked in the book, so why shouldn´t she be naked in the movie???I never had a problem that she was naked in the book, so why should I have problem if she is naked in the movie?Do you get this?

      • Eskay

        So in other words, YOU STILL HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET.
        W H O O P S ! ! ! ! !

      • lord jim

        Sadly, it doesn´t surprise me, that you still don´t get it.How old are you?

      • Eskay

        In other words, you STILL haven’t seen it yet.
        Good news for you though — nobody else is seeing it either. It’s completely bombing at the box office.

      • lord jim

        I really don´t care if it´s bombing at the box office – it´s the grey studio suits (understandable) and strange weirdos like you (brainwashed) who think that money makes a movie successful.People with actual taste considered movies like “Blade Runner”, “The Thing”,”Citizen Kane” or “Playtime” successful because they got made in an uncompromising way, and it doesn´t matter they didn´t make money when they come out.Stick to Transformers and shit that nobody will remember ten years from now, put on justin Bieber and don´t insult people who actually care about art, that would be wasted on you like pearls before swine.

      • Prometheus

        How can you possibly claim all this about this movie when you haven’t even bothered to see it?

      • lord jim

        What exactly did i claim?That Eva Green is naked?That Goldberg is rather writing about his moral values than about a movie?

      • lord jim

        the first one was a frame by frame copy of the comics by the way (the only difference being that you did not see Jessica Alba naked by the way), I was hoping and expecting they would keep the same approach, and other than a couple of new scenes, again based on drawings by Miller, it´s again a copy using the comics as a storyboard as different reviews have already stated.So how is anything I say not to be expected?Read the books, they got everything that Goldberg doesn´t like in them, the simle-mindedness, the pulpy violence and the nudity.

      • JudgeMethos

        Yep.

      • Prometheus

        If you are such a big fan of this, how come you haven’t supported the movie the last two nights and go off your ass to see it? It’s bombing at the box office.
        You seem like a hypocrite here who obviously has tons of time to post over and over how great this is, but you are too lazy and cheap to get off your ass and actually go see and support this “allegedly” great movie. ???

      • lord jim

        Haha, i live in Austria.Do you think the world wide web is only for Americans?Jesus, grow up, that´s unbelievable ;)

      • JudgeMethos

        Um, it’s BASED off the graphic novel page for page. You read the book, you’ve seen the movie. Just like the first Sin City. How hard is that to understand? And why the “LOL?” Was there a joke?

      • Prometheus

        Dumbest post ever.
        Do I really have to list the hundreds of movies made over the last 100 years that were based on printed material, that sucked in terms of being comparable to book, comic, song or story?
        Give me a fucking break. Dumbest post ever.

      • lord jim

        You clearly have a reading problem, try again kid ;)

      • lord jim

        Because a simple guy like you would probably take my comment just as an insult, I will try to be more open about your reading problems:Do you understand “page for page”?

      • Eskay

        In other words, YOU STILL HAVEN’T BOTHERED TO SEE THE MOVIE.
        LOL^2

      • lord jim

        Yes because I still live in Austria!Are you really that dumb???

      • JudgeMethos

        LoL!

      • JudgeMethos

        Seen it. It’s your opinion. And saying a post is dumb shows your age. If you’re older saying immature stuff like that, you have real issues. Anyway, your little opinion is noted kind sir. Carry on being pissed off for no reason at all.

      • Eskay

        Then the book sucks, because unlike the rest of you here, I paid to see this horrid piece of crap last night, and if it wasn’t for all the Eva Green nude scenes, I would have walked out.
        Yea, try actually seeing the movie….

      • Grayden

        I question at times how much personal bias Goldberg puts in his reviews, but this time he was dead on. Eva Green’s nudity was distracting to the point of exploitative. I really liked JGL’s story; it felt most at home with the original film. Nancy’s story, which Miller wrote specifically for the film, was boring and cliche. Rourke as Marv was the most interesting character of the whole film, because he, despite his ultra-violent tendencies, is the moral compass for Sin City. And it’s sad that two people effectively used him as a means to achieve their own ends without regard for him and makes his death in the first film mean that much more and tragic at the same time.

        Also, a lot of sites were describing Dwight as post-op, when in fact he was pre-op. The ‘Dame to Kill For’ story takes place before Dwight meets Shelly in the first film, thus why Brolin’s makeup was designed to look like Clive Owen’s face. And all three stories in this film take place before the ‘Goldie’ story in Sin City, since Marv dies at the end of that. Just strange knowing the events of ‘That Yellow Bastard’ & ‘Nancy’s Revenge’ happen before ‘Goldie’, even though the original film bookends itself with the Nancy/Hartigan story.

      • lord jim

        Mickey Rourke was the best part of the first one too, he really was Marv who´s also my favourite character from the books, while Bruce Willis was completely miscast and played it too cool.The biggest problem about the first one was actually that it was so close to the source that i missed the imagination I did put inbetween the pictures when I read the books, which made it more shallow than the reading experience, but I still admired it, nobody ever really tried to put a comic frame for frame on a screen and Rodriguez did it.

  • Guy

    Ouch.

  • Max Rockatansky

    Should have kept Frank Miller away from this.

    • Daniel O’Reilly

      And Rodriguez. The man has been in a tailspin ever since the first Sin City.

      • Eskay

        Yep, that was his last good film. Agreed — he’s been in a complete tailspin since that time.

    • lord jim

      No.He is the reason why the movies are so amazingly close to the books, and there is absolutely no reason to watch the movies if you don´t like the books, so what´s your point?

  • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

    Just like the 300 sequel – it was too little too late. Had they made this two years after the 1st film they would have had a hit both critically and financially.

  • Big John

    But still, it has Eva Green nude.

    • Strong Enough

      every fucking movie with eva green has nude in it

      • awer

        ….and?

      • Strong Enough

        keep it coming!

      • yourmomgoestocollege

        Exactly. I dont see what the big deal with her is. Am I happy to see her naked? Yes. However, I thought she was terrible in 300, and she isnt THAT good looking. Kind of awkward and creepy as far as hot chicks are concerned…

    • Strong Enough

      every fucking movie with eva green has nude in it

  • Mixed race rich kid NYC

    Lauren bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Setsuko Hara, Madhabi Mukherjee are the most beautiful actresses I’ve ever seen and none of them have been nude
    It is always better to leave most at imagination
    Eva green is just a cheap white whore

    • Pernell Whitaker

      Cheap white whore you say? Mmmm yummy yummy… I like my whores like neopolitan ice cream homie – white, yellow and brown, and all at the same damn time. You feel me dawg?

      • matt murdock

        I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican, and Haitian.

      • Eskay

        MURDOCK !!!! I am coming to get you!!!!

    • Venom

      Times have changed. Get over it.

    • leroy

      Weren’t you banned you racist little sh!t?

    • marrowbonez

      Mixed race rich kin NYC – From now on, your name is Toby!

    • lord jim

      Your statement is ridiculous.Watch her in “Cracks”, she is a true artist, I haven´t been so stunned by a female performance since i saw Isabella Rossellini in “Blue Velvet”.I didn´t know that clothes equal acting, or that female acting is about imagining an actress nude, so try to think again – good luck.

      • Eskay

        We get to see her cracks in most of her movies.

  • appolox

    Goldberg hates it for reasons I (in my opinion) think are stupid? In that case I’m probably gonna adore the shit out of this!

  • James

    I doubt its that bad. Besides, this is just one mans opinion. See the film for yourselves and make your own judgment on whether you thought it was good or not.

    • Spanky

      You know.. the point of a review is to help you the consumer form an opinion so that you don’t waste your money

      Some of you guys just seem to like throwing it away even when advice is saying not too… odd how you guys work

      In cases like these when as of right now it’s under 40% at Rotten Tomatoes, I’m inclined to skip the theater and potentially wasting my time and money and wait for it to be on video where it’s cheaper and more convenient

      • lord jim

        Rotten Tomatoes, oh wow.Movies that are liked by everybody when they come out, aren´t usually the most interesting ones, and the Rotten Tomatoes rating is really the last reason to watch or skip a movie.Even “The Night of the Hunter” was hated by critics when it came out, and Charles Laughton was so angry, that he never made another movie again.Today it´s considered to be a masterpiece, so fuck ratings.

  • yrulaughing418

    Only Matt Goldberg could spin Eva Green nudity as a bad thing

  • JBug

    Sounds awesome

  • Stefan Bonomo

    Sad to hear you didn’t like this. The original Sin City is one of my favourite films of all time, for real, and I’ve been anticipating this for a while. Hopefully I’ll end up liking this, and if its just a pretty good companion piece to the original, I’ll be happy.

  • Goldy

    Matt Goldberg hates seeing Eva Green nude, gives the movie a D+…therefore one has to conclude that Matt Goldberg likes the D!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FUCK MATT GOLDBERG

    Yes a juvenile movie.

  • Jamie Teller

    Eva Green nude didn’t make The Dreamers a good film either. Or 300: Rise of an Empire, for that matter. But Casino Royale was good, and I actually kind of liked Dark Shadows–mostly for her. Yet she was nude in neither.

    It’s almost like she only bares all for shitty movies.

    • salfie

      “The Dreamers” definitely wasn’t what I’d call a good movie but it wasn’t offending to intelligence either. Nicely shot, some interesting themes going on. Certainly worth a watch.

  • straight arrow

    So … how much eva green nudity we talking here?

  • DEADP00L

    I had a feeling it would be that bad.

  • TrekBeatTK

    This is pretty much how I felt about the first Sin City. After awhile, there was just too much muchness, and the never ending cartoon violence of blood gushing in weird colors just went on and on. I got sick of it, because halfway through, when the novelty wears off, I think “this could have been a tighter movie with some of this cut”. The movie was a good 20 minutes too long for me. …And then they put out an extended cut!

  • TrekBeatTK

    This is pretty much how I felt about the first Sin City. After awhile, there was just too much muchness, and the never ending cartoon violence of blood gushing in weird colors just went on and on. I got sick of it, because halfway through, when the novelty wears off, I think “this could have been a tighter movie with some of this cut”. The movie was a good 20 minutes too long for me. …And then they put out an extended cut!

  • moderator

    raise your hand if your thought Matt was going to like this movie

  • moderator

    raise your hand if your thought Matt was going to like this movie

  • sferrin

    Sounds like My Little Pony would be more to the reviewer’s liking. Why they had him review this movie is anybody’s guess.

  • sferrin

    Sounds like My Little Pony would be more to the reviewer’s liking. Why they had him review this movie is anybody’s guess.

  • Al

    the whole mistaking ‘whores for dames, sadists for toughs guys, and style for charm’ thing kind of IS the point of Sin City.

  • http://www.facebook.com/PlagaX Donte Dillon

    What if I didn’t see the first one? Will I still understand it? or even like it?

    • lord jim

      Miller´s books are closed stories, even if the characters and the place stays the same, so I guess you don´t have to watch the first one to understand this one.I liked the first one a lot, but “A Dame to Kill For” is at least the better book.

  • ʝoe βloggs

    “not only is Green playing an exaggerated archetype, but the filmmakers make her nude for almost a majority of her screen time.”

    So that makes it an A+ then?

    • matt murdock

      When I read this sentence, I went directly to Fandango and purchased a ticket.

      • ʝoe βloggs

        You have excellent taste my good man.

  • illipsis

    First one was inane enough, no surprise the second is too. Frank Miller’s contributions to comics have been grossly exaggerated and will probably diminish with the perspective hindsight affords tbh.

    • bidi

      we’ve had 30 years since The Dark Knight Returns came out and it’s still regarded as a masterpiece. same goes for Batman: Year One, and his run on Daredevil. i think the man is up there in terms of all-time comics greats

    • lord jim

      I don´t think so.You should read the Sin City books, even if the dialogue does sound like Mickey Spillaine for the poor, his artistry is one of a kind, which is the reason why he is still considered a giant.he absolutely mastered the medium in a unique and uncompromising way, that opens up the imagination in a way that the plot can stay simple and out of the way, while the world still oozes with depth, but of course a lot of that openness gets lost on the screen.

  • Héctor Pérez Tovar

    This review is the perfect example to why I don’t like “Nolanites”, ever since The Dak Knight and it’s over-blown reviews saying that it transcended the comic book genre, people actually think this movies are supposed to be taken serious. The first Sin City was an average film/good experiment by a B-movie director, poorly acted because of the heavy use of green screen (the whole Clive Owen segment is specially bad) but it ended up as something funny to watch when bored. This is pretty much the same with a tiny improvement on the acting

  • william

    Not a good sequel. The first movie is a classic.
    This sort of felt like a long TV episode

    But still absolutely worth seeing in the theater just for the amazing shots in 3D.

  • Eskay

    “They seem to be operating under the impression that Eva owns her sexuality and is using it as a weapon, but her nudity always feels like a service to the horny men in the audience rather than a commanding presence that demands respect. ”
    Now we’re talking! This is the single reason I will see this movie. LOL

  • Eskay

    What’s with that dumbass Hunger Games rip-off in the photo here of that skank with the bow an arrow?

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