In 2005, a visually arresting film by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller brought a graphic novel by Frank Miller to striking life. The first "Sin City" film was such a novel film experience. Shot in stark black and white with strategic splashes of color, the stylized sex and violence it showed us was like nothing we have seen in a movie before. It had a memorable cast of over-the-top characters portrayed by big name stars Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Benicio del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, among others.
Nine long years after, the long-awaited sequel was finally made and released by the same directorial team. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" has basically the same noir style we marveled at in the first film. This second installments gathers three main stories to tell us, those of Dwight (Josh Brolin) and his sexy Ava (Eva Green), the gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his lucky hand, and finally the stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) and her old score to settle. The common character in the Dwight and Nancy stories was the helpful brute Marv (Mickey Rourke). While in the Johnny and Nancy story, the common denominator was the ruthlessly evil Senator Roark (Powers Boothe).
From the first sequence with Marv chasing down four college kids to teach them a lesson, we know we are in for the same old treat of violence with which the first film held us in awe. The violence was hyperbolically cartoonish in style with the animated arrows and splattering fluorescent blood. But make no mistake, this film is gruesomely violent, complete with gouging out eyeballs, maiming faces and breaking fingers in stylistically close-up detail.
The sex was definitely still there with Jessica Alba with her raunchy strip routines and Rosario Dawson with her all-leather dominatrix garb. But we already saw these in the first film. Here, this sex factor was amped up more thanks to the bold new presence of one Eva Green who blew all the other ladies in the cast away with her sensuous curves and sultry moves. Ava's seduction scenes ranged from nice and tender with Dwight, to rough with policeman Mort (Christopher Meloni). Note the remark of Mort's partner after their first meeting with Ava. It must hold true for all male audiences during her scenes as well.
It has admittedly been too long in between the first "Sin City" and its sequel. I cannot compare them anymore. I sort of get the feeling that the story transitions in the first film seemed very smooth and seamless. In this one, the stories of Green and Alba live up to the title of "A Dame to Die For" since they both dealt with fabulous femme fatales. The episode with Gordon-Levitt seemed out of place since he is clearly no dame. Nevertheless, the innovative electric cinematographic style and the cool acting performances which made the first film so unique and exciting still make this sequel very much worth the watch. 7/10.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."