Entertainment LIFESTYLE  >  Movie Review of the Week: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”

Movie Review of the Week: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”

Movie Review of the Week: “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”
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BY ALISON BAILES

I don’t know whether to applaud or cry. Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s comic book noir sequel … quite literally a “moving picture”… revels in the baser aspects of human nature, but does it with such gleeful indulgence and eye-popping panache that it’s a rush just to take it all in. I’m not sure it all adds up to very much, but the visual imprint is still vivid on my retinas and the husky voice-over still rings in my ears. Style trumps substance, but with such style who cares?

The throaty, cynical narration is provided by different characters as the stories move between various denizens of Sin City, a fictional, Los Angeles-like hub of corruption and crime. We meet characters back from the first 2005 film: Mickey Rourke as the bulky Marv, Bruce Willis as the cop Hartigan, Jessica Alba as the stripper Nancy. Josh Brolin replaces Clive Owen as the seedy P.I. Dwight, but looks like he was born to the role. And newcomer to the series Joseph Gordon-Levitt flexes his noir muscles (see his past work in “Brick”) as he runs afoul of the malevolent Senator Roark, played deliciously by Powers Boothe. Most striking has to be French actress Eva Green, who slinks around the screen as Ava Lord, the most fatal of femmes fatales who would give Barbara Stanwyck a run for her money.

The plot (basically lots of revenge killing) is beside the point here. It’s the images that matter and the frames evoke actual comic books (Miller storyboarded them from his own graphic novels) with the dialogue recalling hard-boiled detective stories of the 1940s and ‘50s. Rodriguez shoots in hard-edged black and white with occasional slashes of color for punctuation. Ava’s dress is shimmering blue, her eyes green and lips as red as blood. When actual blood flies, it tends to be white splats…although there are sufficient close-ups of gouged eyes, and bruised faces that stick in the mind in vivid color. Occasionally Rodriguez mimics happy-go-lucky montages from 1940’s musicals, with characters strolling through a rear projection of street signs and neon lights. The references and touchstones are manifold…and any film fan will delight in the cinematic language on display.

But my rapture for the look and sounds of “Sin City 2” comes with caveats. While the action is non-stop and dynamic, the story fails to grab. It’s hard to care about characters that are really just a bundle of movie clichés so once you’ve finished oohing and ahhing over the production design and the neo-noir lingo, there’s not much left and it’s a bit of a slog to get to the end. Of course, there’s plenty of eye-candy to keep one’s interest, most notably Eva Green’s breasts, which really should take top billing so prominently are they featured. The other female cast members (Rosario Dawson, Juno Temple, Jamie Chung) also seem to have been chosen on the strengths of their ability to look good in leather bustiers while dishing out gobs of gore.

But to complain about simplistic character development or sexual fetishism in a Robert Rodriguez film is pedantic and a waste of time. In Sin City, the streets are dirty and the cops dirtier. The dames are double-crossing and the mugs are gullible. It’s a black and white world, but luckily someone has to live there.

 

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