Friday, 19 June 2015

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

I was a big fan of Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels during the early 90s.  They had gorgeous art and lashings of testosterone and I was 20 years old.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the first film when it was released in 2005.  Sure, the actual comics had become something of a caricature of themselves by then, and the similarity of many of the stories - a violent but honourable man acts to protect a woman and finds that the forces which threaten her are more than he first imagined - was made rather obvious by combining three of them into a single film, but man oh man it looked gorgeous and it had a great cast and So. Much. Style.

I was thus very pleased when A Dame to Kill For was announced, soon after the first film debuted.  It would feature the one story which had changed up the Sin City formula, and it would be so very, very pretty.

The fact that the sequel ultimately took almost a decade to be released was the first warning sign about the film.  Miller's hypnotically awful big screen adaptation of The Spirit was the second.

But to be honest, while The Spirit was deeply stupid, not to mention frequently insane, at least it never felt phoned in.  It was terrible, but it was wholeheartedly committed to its terribleness.  Sin City: A Dame To Kill For commits the far graver sin of not seeming to care.  The action sequences are static and lifeless; the sexuality gauche and awkward.

There are exceptions to the general air of malaise, it's true.  Eva Green does a fine job as the eponymous "dame", for instance (though it is best not to think too hard - or at all, really - about the logic behind her actions after about the halfway point of her arc).  And Powers Boothe is obviously having a whale of a time being Evil McEvil in the other two arcs.

I mention "arcs" because this is again an anthology piece with three main, intertwined but not really interconnected narratives going on.  Both the ones Boothe is in were written especially for the film, and - his performance aside - they're disappointing.  They do avoid the "Sin City formula" I mentioned above, which is nice, but they fail to be satisfying narratives in their own right.  This is especially true of the arc that ends the film: the climactic scene made me laugh out loud, but I was laughing at  the movie, not with it.

If you ditched the two new arcs, expanded the "Dame" storyline (making her strategy more logical in the process), and made the action sequences not suck, this would be a decent movie.  It would also be nothing like the film they actually made.

Disappointingly tedious and tepid.

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