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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » September 29, 2014
Film review
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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
September 29, 2014   
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Movie-goers had to wait nine long years for Roberto Rodriguez (Machete, Grindhouse, Once Upon a Time in Mexico: Desperado 2) to take them on a second trip to the super-brutal world created by Frank Miller in his graphic novels. In 2005, Sin City impressed with its revolutionary visuals and the evident talent with which the screenwriter combined loosely connected stories into a logical whole. Logical, at least, by comic book standards. Rodriguez also managed to sign up a stellar cast of A-list actors, some of whom, like Elijah Wood, were happy to be cast against type and able to challenge their wholesome public image. Viewers rewarded Rodriguez and Miller for the $40 million effort with $29 million spent at the box office on the opening weekend alone. In total, the movie raked in double what it had cost to make.

But the attempt to repeat the trick hasn’t worked. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For has turned out to be a resounding flop with a mere $6.5 million at the American box office on the opening weekend. This has since grown to $12 million, but still a long way from the movie’s budget of $60 million.

The first thing that springs to mind when you wonder why viewers have snubbed the sequel is that it’s basically a carbon copy of all the ideas from part one. Nine years on, fans had every right to expect something at least fresh, if not sensationally original. The cast does, in fact, contain some fresh faces due to the conflicting schedules of the original actors. As a result, Clive Owen has been replaced by Josh Brolin and Michael Madsen by Jeremy Piven. Dennis Haysbert, in turn, stands in for Michael Clarke Duncan, who is no longer with us. Like the first Sin City, the new movie comprises four intertwining stories and the filming techniques are the same. And while the movie was shot in 3D, the characters are totally one-dimensional. While this is par for the course for a comic strip, those who are not ardent comic book fans would appreciate something a little more subtle than the lone warrior with a mysterious past, the tough guy with a heart of gold, the corrupt politician, and the femme fatale. Not even good actors like Brolin, Mickey Rourke and Powers Boothe can extract much from such stereotypes. The only exception is Joseph Gordon Levitt (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper), who, as a young gambler who crosses the omnipotent Senator (Boothe—Tombstone, Sudden Death), squeezes as much as humanly possible out of his role. The other strong performance is by Eva Green (Casino Royale, Kingdom of Heaven) as the titular Dame to Kill For, even if her role essentially hinges on her feminine allure, particularly in topless scenes that were played up by the publicity for the movie. As it happens, the French actress didn’t need such tricks because she shines in the role. No doubt what helped was her experience in another adaptation of Miller’s graphic novels. She played Artemisia, a Persian fleet commander, in the recent blockbuster 300: Rise of an Empire by Noam Murro.

Whether Miller and Rodriguez team up for a Sin City 3 will be up to the producers to decide. Critics will be skeptical rather than optimistic about the level of originality and quality such a venture is likely to deliver.
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