Ohhhh Robert Rodriguez..what happened to you since the days of “El Mariachi?” I loved that movie and the sheer basic-ness of it. Even “Desperado” though somewhat amped up with bigger stars and all, showed you still had spirit. “Spy Kids” was fun!! Then,..well somehow it became all green screen & well..’film noir’ if that’s what you would like to call it. “Sin City” a movie with so much art direction, enough decapitations to make the Roman’s say WOW! yet so very dull and uninvolving.
“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” seeks to pay homage to the graphic novel by re-imagining it as a feature film; unfortunately, the big screen and the 3D merely call attention to the aspects of the book that either don’t work or don’t translate easily from one to another because I got lost & a bit bored somewhere in there. First of all, there’s the narration..ohhhhh so, so much narration, with so many monologues laid over soooo many scenes of people drinking, driving, grimacing or stripping without taking their bras off. (The latter being “Nancy” (Jessica Alba). Add to all this a ridiculously thick layer of sexism, with every woman in the film portrayed as a prostitute, stripper or man-trap. There’s a policeman’s wife who dares to be over the age of 40, and is well then of course cheated on because ya know..that’s what happens to all women at that age (yawn), a vengeance-driven dancer who has to mutilate herself to get a man to help her carry out her vendetta. Heaven forbid she do it on her own in a story like this. It seems to try to be a bit self-parody, but completely lacks the sense of humour required.
As with its the first “Sin City”, which was a whole (gasp!) 9 years ago, this sequel sees directors Frank Miller, who also wrote the novels, and previously mentioned Rodriguez shooting their actors on green-screen and surrounding them with so much animation, hyper-stylized lighting and art direction to make the movie look as much like a comic book as possible. It’s a clever gimmick for about 10 minutes, but then you start noticing how the actors have been directed not to move their faces much, so that they’ll look more characters on a page. The blank expressions (and again!! that crushing narration) merely point out the fact that lines like “She didn’t deserve a second thought — and I couldn’t get her out of my mind,” probably work much better on the page than they do when said out loud as they don’t work well.
The new hero is gambler “Johnny” (Joseph Gordon Levitt) beats corrupt politician “Senator Rourke” (Powers Boothe) in a big game at the poker table but comes to regret it. Rourke becomes a target for Nancy, because the senator killed her lover “Hartigan”(Bruce Willis) who appears periodically as a kinda passive-aggressive ghost, private eye “Dwight” (Josh Brolin) finds himself trapped by the over dramatic manipulation of his ex “Ava” (Eva Green), a femme fatale with a rich husband and a wicked soul. While I’ve still yet to figure out what makes some think Green is so wonderful all of a sudden in the acting world because I’ve only seen some very mediocre acting, I will give it that she is the only female in this movie who seems to see through this movie’s ludicrousness and dares to one-up it. Her and Brolin’s nudity feels like it should be and they show a lot more skin than any of the strippers (thank you Josh!!:)) and she turns Ava’s greed into one of the few tangible objects in this movie made up principally of special effects. “Marv” (Mickey Rourke) brings a bit of soul to his role, a bit tough-guy with a heart.
This being Rodriguez’s second sequel in a row now, Machete Kills being the first, in which he turns sex, violence and general exploitation into a rather dull movies at best with yes, stars galore in it. All either movie had to be was entertaining, but neither accomplished that task; so for a film loaded with decapitations and gun-toting ladies in bondage gear, Sin City 2 gets really tedious really quickly. But this genre definitely has it’s fans and they will probably love it whether it was good or bad. On a side note: Did anyone else notice or be a bit well..skeeved out by the fact that Rodriguez once cast 13-year-old Alexa PenaVega as a spunky little Spy Kid but now gives the 26-year-old actress roles as a stripper or a whore…hmmm..maybe that’s just weird to me and yes I know. we all grow up..but this..I dunno..was just weird for me. So as my friend Fisher said to me when I invited him to the premiere on Tuesday…”nah..the premiere party will be a blast with all those different people showing up, but the movie won’t be” and that my friends summed it up completely. Premiere party where I got to meet Demian Bichir who happened to be there and I am such a fan though he’s not even in the movie, was my most exciting moment, the movie…was not.
Grading Scale: A = Oscar worthy; B = Above average – must see; C = Average D = Don’t waste time or money F = Just don’t see (+ or – gives it a edge up or down)