Film Reviews

New ‘Sin City’ is Style Over Substance

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by Jane Louise Boursaw

A person on fire. An exploding car. A hanging. A slit throat. A seamy poker game. Revenge! Power! Greed! Just another day in Sin City, and that’s just the first two minutes of this movie.

It probably would have been a good idea if I’d watched the first “Sin City” movie (released in 2005) again before watching this one. But I didn’t, so must admit I was a little lost regarding the various characters and their vendettas. And, of course, there’s also Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Might have been helpful to read that. But I didn’t because, frankly, it’s not really my thing. The movie is visually stunning, but wow, these people have issues.

Several stories unfold in Sin City, a place where no one ever sleeps and everyone is desperate. Like a classic film noir movie (chopped up in a grim blender run by directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller), each character narrates his or her own story, with lines like, “Night turns to day and then it’s night again and there’s nowhere to hide.”

First up, Marv (Mickey Rourke, with a super impressive chin) can’t remember a thing leading up to his altercation with some homicidal college kids. Meanwhile, stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba)

works the stage at a sleazy nightclub and dreams of avenging the death of her one true love, Hartigan (Bruce Willis).

Dwight (Josh Brolin) tangles with a former lover, femme fatale Ava (Eva Green), and a newcomer to Sin City, gambler Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays a high-stakes poker game with powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe, who makes a really good bad guy). Interwoven in the stories are a bevy of prostitutes, desperate cops, intense bodyguards and other lost souls.

It’s been nine years, since Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez delivered “Sin City,” and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has the same look and feel. I love the hard-boiled characters and black-and-white canvas punctuated with bits of color here and there — blood red lips, a pink feather boa, a sapphire blue coat.

But the dazzling special effects (I saw it in 3D; love those flying shards of glass) and interesting storylines at the beginning devolve into a melange of overly violent, sex- and alcohol-fueled characters out for revenge. I know, I know, it’s Rodriguez and Miller, but I shudder to think what goes on inside their twisted minds when it comes to women. The female characters in this movie are either sex objects or dangerous assassins. Then again, the men don’t fare much better.

I can’t say I highly recommend “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” but it’s very interesting if viewed as a conceptual piece of cinematic art.

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

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