Exactly one day after the release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, I went to a 9:30 PM 3D showing, expecting parking to be brutal. It wasn’t. In fact, there were but fifteen people in the theatre, and I live in a heavily populated are about an hour south of San Francisco. I nestled down in my seat and got a strong intro involving Mickey Rourke doing some ass-kicking, which was exactly what I wanted. Then, when the credits hit, it switched to a semi-cliché story, featuring David Gordon-Levitt as a young man who always won every game he played, which gets him in over his head. X-Files anyone? Still, it remained one of my favorite tales within the film. Right when something bad happens and a time lapse is needed, there’s an appropriate shift to another character.
Throughout the film, we get to see plenty of Nancy, Dwight and the gang, but be aware there are casting changes galore. Dwight is now played by Josh Brolin, which is fine, because it’s him before an identity change. Then there’s Manute, who is played by Dennis Haysbert in place of the late Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jamie Chung in place of Devon Aoki. Worst of all, we got Jeremy Piven to try an fill Michael Madsen’s shoes as Bob. Shellie, previously played by Brittany Murphy, appeared written out altogether, perhaps because it would’ve been too much to replace yet another character.
By far, the weakest story was the one given the most time: A Dame to Kill For. Eva Green did a swell job as Ava, but the seductress story offered little more than an excuse to cycle through more comic characters as her lovers. It was both rushed and uninteresting. She’s supposed to come off as a god, but is clearly reptilian with her green eyes, and not all that seductive or enticing with her nonstop nude scenes. There was simply no enchantment for her to give the audience, though I’d blame that on production decisions rather than any weak points in her acting ability.
Now for some key takeaways on what most influenced my enjoyment of the movie.
Star-studded cast: This was too much. With even more celebrities than the first, many didn’t get enough screentime. There was no chance to get invested in many characters. Couple that with the fact it’s 25 minutes shorter than the theatrical version of the first film (45 minutes shorter than the director’s cut), and the whole thing is too rushed. 20 minutes longer with the focus shifted to Bruce Willis and I would’ve been happier.
Sex in place of creative violence: Sin City 2 manages little more than some icky eye-gouging and non-creative kills. All the violence is largely redundant in style. There’s little gross-out and it’s all been replaced by Eva Green’s chest, which isn’t actually all that interesting. That and the shadow placement to block out her lower bits, as well as James Brolin’s, seemed entirely forced.
Visual Style: The same, but with even more driving scenes. Makes me want a Twisted Metal movie in the same style.
What the film manages to do is remind us what we liked about the original, especially since Dwight’s story is more of a prequel and Nancy’s is more of an ill-paced sequel. After this flop, I doubt we’ll see a third film in the franchise.
My verdict? 6/10