Some films have that special something, and some films seem like they stepped in something. Allow me to help you know the difference, and maybe find you something good to watch.
Nine years ago, when Sin City (2005) first came out, it was fresh and exciting. Black and white with shocks of color. It was sexy, violent, creative, and funny. It was that great balance of Frank Miller’s fantastic source material and Robert Rodriguez’s unique flavor of film-making prowess.
Sin City 2 tries to recapture that magic, but sadly, it fails. Not completely, and if you liked the first one, sure, check it out. But ‘A Dame to Kill For’ is just an echo of the scream heard 10 years ago: weaker, quieter, and already fading away.
Ultimately, I blame the writing. Even though the acting isn’t the best, and the cinematography is cool, but doesn’t do anything new, it is the writing that causes the most damage. The dialogue is filthy with tired clichés, and I do mean EXHAUASTED. The first film had hard-boiled poetry coming out of their mouths, colorful explosive phrases that ignited the air around them. The second film however seemed to consult a Cliché-Dictionary to find as many as it could and stuff them in there. Seriously. Pretty bad.
Not to say there aren’t moments of quality elsewhere. Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Josh Brolin are pretty good, which is interesting because they weren’t in the first one. Whereas pretty much everyone that is returning (Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba) doesn’t give me much to get excited about.
The big exception to that is the wonderfully sinister Powers Booth, who returns to play the eminently evil Senator Rourke. Great job, Powers! I’ll add that Mickey Rourke isn’t awful, but the writing just isn’t serving him well in this. Marv was fantastic in the first one, but here he’s just meh. And Jessica Alba continues to be the only stripper in the world that refuses to strip. You had ONE job, Alba! Oh, no wait, you had two. The other was to act. Whoops.
Really, the whole film seemed unpolished and jumbled. Why jumbled? Because of the four mini-stories that make up this movie, two of them take place before the first Sin City, and two occur after. There are no signposts to mark the way, and it just makes it unnecessarily difficult to put it all together.
Eva Green is actually magnificent in this, and probably worth the watch just for her. Also, there are appearances by Christopher Lloyd, Lady Gaga, and Stacy Keach, and they are fun little scenes.
All in all, there are certainly at least a few reasons to give this a watch, just lower your expectations and don’t expect this prequel/sequel to measure up to the original.