‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’ Is Simultaneously Better And Worse Than The Original

Honestly, if you just know him from the movies, the fact that the title of this movie is Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is not a ringing endorsement. Miller’s sole other film credit besides the first Sin City was The Spirit, a comic book adaptation made by a man who clearly has never read a single page by Will Eisner. And now we’ve got this movie, which is, in some ways, better than the first one… but still, unfortunately, lacking.

Yesterday I explained that Sin City has some rather serious problems as a movie and as a comic adaptation, but in theory, those should be at least somewhat allayed by the fact that a chunk of this movie is a new script written for film. Unfortunately, the other problem I mentioned above comes into play: Miller’s a lousy filmmaker and screenwriter.

Robert Rodriguez does temper matters a bit: Freed from the tyranny of reproducing panels, or at least able to talk Miller through how a film is edited and written, the sequel’s original stories are less stiff and less prone to goofy or ridiculous shots. Watching Eva Green prance around like she’s on Cinemax or a Hong Kong Category III movie gets old fast.

That doesn’t mean they’re well-written, unfortunately. The line “Oh, I’ll do far worse than kill you,” is actually uttered at one point, and it’s only because Powers Boothe is a consummate professional that you don’t burst out laughing.

What kills me, though, is how cheesy and campy this movie is, moreso than the original. Part of that’s the cast: If you’d told me Jessica Alba was a straight-edge who’d never had a drink or been around drunks ever in her life, after seeing her “drunken” performance in this movie, I’d believe it. Somehow, Alba has gotten worse as an actress in the intervening nine years.

Still, Miller claims to be a fan of the pop culture of the 1940s, and Rodriguez, whatever his faults, knows his film history. So why does this feel less like a tribute to the hard-boiled noir of the 1940s and more like the sequel to Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid? This is “noir” made by somebody who’s vaguely heard that they were black and white and involved crime and some sort of moral ambiguity or something. At least the original sometimes felt like an old ’40s movie. Here it just feels like a sloppy pastiche.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For ultimately is just a sad ending to something that doesn’t deserve one. Unless, of course, they follow through on their threat to make a third one.