The long-awaited sequel to Frank Miller (300) and Robert Rodriguez‘ (From Dusk Till Dawn) Sin City might miss its target, but not without looking sexy doing so. Faithfully realized, the directing duo once again paints the cinematic town in digitally rendered white, black and blood-soaked red.
Nancy's Last Dance
The film is made up of four tales of seedy revenge, some of which feel more disjointed than the original film. But at least revenge comes in more ways than one, for some: Jessica Alba is actually fucking good. The Dark Angel herself, arguably best known as Sue Storm in those pitiful Fantastic Four films (but should owe her debt to Rodriguez for the original S.C.) is one of the two shining stars among an ensemble of standard performances. And I’m actually talking about her acting and just not the product of the world’s most expensive Pilates.
In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Alba’s stripper-turned-menacing-biker-assassin — haunted by the Ghost of Bruce Willis (who isn’t?) — shows a far more range of emotion than in all of her previous 24 films combined. She kicks a lot of butt, and appears genuinely tormented doing so.
Hey, Jess– you’re no longer just a pretty face.
The Long Bad Night
Another pretty face with an even prettier performance was the Almost-Nightwing himself, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Unlike that of the last film’s “prettyboy”, Josh Hartnett, JGL chews and spits out every scene with veteran actor — and the animated Justice League‘s Gorilla Grodd! — Powers Boothe. Funny that Gordon-Levitt plays a younger Bruce Willis in Looper, because he basically does that all over again as the worse-than-lucky — and ever so vulnerably cocky — cardsharp challenging his sinister senator pops. Despite these scenes not appearing in the comic pages of Sin City, they’re among the film’s best.
I’d even go so far as to say it’s nearly worth a ticket purchase just to see this kid go. JGL literally un-lames the lack of script substance in Sin City 2 and ashes it away into a golden urn. Now (even after admirable performances in Inception and TDKR), I finally got a chance to see what his fuss is all about…
Just Another Saturday Night
As brilliantly imagined and expertly framed the sequel to Sin City appears on the big screen, the fact of the matter is: This neo-noirish graphic novel aesthetic has already been done to death (don’t see: The Spirit). While not entirely at the fault of this franchise, not much has changed in the almost decade it has taken this film to release.
SCADTKF is almost, also, too hard-boiled; there’s hardly any room for humor to spare. Even Mickey Rourke‘s gravelly-boozed, twin shotgun-murdering Marv sets the tone like a hush of “oh no’s” from an NFL training camp crowd about to witness a 36-year old running back’s attempt at reviving his career. And to think Rourke’s scenes — particularly with Alba — are among the film’s highlights…
Crazy enough, if you’re one of the few geeks who missed out on the highly stylized 2005 original, you’ll likely enjoy this more– if you can stomach all of the video game violence. Watching heads explode into paint buckets, sliced-and-diced at an unprecedented rate just isn’t the same nowadays as it was around the time of Kill Bill. It’s very likely there’d be far more appreciation for all this live action-meets-silhouette-CG violence had the sequel come just 2-3 years after the original.
A Dame to Kill For
Hell, even the less violent and more voyeuristically/kinky sex-tions of Sin City 2 fail to translate. I felt most disconnected with the titular chapter, watching the sexy Eva Green doing her Ava damn thing. A woman driven by greed? I can just go outside to see that.
To Green’s credit, she can’t help but be that sweet-on-the-eyes siren we’ve witnessed over and over (and even ever-so-slightly in her current TV series, Penny Dreadful). It’s the supervillain seductress that spawned up this entire genre of media in the first place. Hell, maybe I just read too much Brubaker.
Either way, as good as Green is at castrating her male counterPARTS with all her “mwahaha!”, the earlier scenes of “woe is me” domestic double-crossing felt all too stale. Even Josh “Thanos” Brolin — a slight step up from the last Dwight McCarthy, Clive Owen — does little to save all of Eva’s gracious nudity. Sure, her body (or body double) looks like a newly-minted Porsche; but one must wonder whether all of this recent “nude poster” controversy was used by Dimension as a means to speed away from those pesky green box-office turtles.
Heh. Not in this town, kid. Not in this town.