Review Roundup: SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR Brings Noir Grit Back to the Big Screen
Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller's visually stunning "Sin City" graphic novels back to the screen in SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR. The film hits theaters today, August 22nd.
Weaving together two of Miller's classic stories with new tales, the town's most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants. SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR is the follow up to Rodriguez and Miller's 2005 groundbreaking film, FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY.
The film stars Eva Green, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Juno Temple, Josh Brolin, Jaime King, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Jamie Chung, Lady Gaga, and Christopher Meloni.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Matt Tamanini, BroadwayWorld.com: ...this listless sequel provides none of the awe-inspiring spectacle of its far superior original. Again directed by both Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, who co-helmed the first "Sin City," the script (by Miller) is similar in structure to the original, but never even approaches the creative success that you so desperately want from it. Instead it seems like a rather vanilla paint-by-numbers retread, in which the creative team avoided nearly all color literal and figurative...The four separate, but somewhat overlapping, tales do little to create any true investment in their characters. Whether they are motivated by revenge, love, or loss, none of the characters comes near earning any sympathy.
Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times: Little has changed, except perhaps that the novelty has worn off. In "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," the dudes are still damaged, the dames remain deadly, and the neo-noir aesthetic still possesses an assaultive force. That's one reason the sequel's addition of 3-D is not just unnecessary but counterproductive; the original film's digital images, painstakingly photographed by Robert Rodriguez...already delivered impressive depth and density. Without any visible benefit...this new dimensional tweak serves only to scramble scale.
Betsy Sharkey, LA Times: The greatest sin of "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is the way its high style is brought low -- visually stunning but emotionally vapid, unrelentingly violent, its splendiferous comic book cast mostly squandered. It's the very speed at which something so artful in design, so ironic in idea, turns so tedious that is so nettling...The melodrama is florid beyond belief -- and without relief -- marked by a sort of noir-drenched jingoistic lingo that has you laughing at how far this bad apple has fallen from the Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler tree. Rather than another groundbreaker, "A Dame to Kill For" is one more poser trying to be performance art.
Claudia Puig, USA Today: This vapid sequel to 2005's Sin City follows the previous collaboration of co-directors Robert Rodriguez and comic-book writer/graphic-novelist Frank Miller. Based on Miller's works, Dame (** out four; rated R; opens Friday nationwide) is as hard-boiled, gory, garish and violent as the original. Bullets spray and blood splatters early and often. But it's hard to care what happens to anybody, since most of the characters feel like computer-generated versions of themselves, and their stories mingle without purpose. Dame has a dull, episodic feel, with hyperviolent vignettes coming off as choppy rather than knit together in a coherent narrative.
David Blaustein, ABC News: All of the performances are fine and the decision to go 3-D keeps the visuals tantalizing, but "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" would've been considerably more entertaining had it been a music video or video game. The through-line connecting all of these stories is tenuous, at best, and the violence soon becomes boring, simply because we never care enough about these characters to give a lick what happens to them.
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: Pulp and noir were often built on the beautiful shoulders of such characters as Ava, and the main justification for seeing the film is to watch Eva Green claim membership in the pantheon of film noir leading ladies alongside Jane Greer, Gloria Grahame, Marie Windsor, Peggy Cummings,Lizabeth Scott and a few others...But the big problem here is the sameness of the material throughout, the one-note tone. Every scene is given the same weight -- there's no modulation, no sense of drama beyond mannered posturing, a feeling that the whole enterprise is about capturing a retro look and attitude and nothing else. The lack of any substance at all is what makes the Sin City franchise feel cheap, in the end.
Justin Chang, Variety: It may be in 3D this time around, but Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's monotone, monochrome comicbook universe feels flatter than ever in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." Rare indeed is the movie that features this many bared breasts, pummeled crotches and severed noggins and still leaves you checking your watch every 10 minutes. But that's the dubious accomplishment of this visually arresting but grimly repetitive exercise in style, set against a sordid neo-noir landscape populated almost exclusively by tormented tough guys and femme-fatale fetish objects.
Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: The sequel to one of the most visually striking movies of the last 10 years continues the graphic novel-inspired landscape of its predecessor. But the characters don't click, and the action feels dull...Everyone also gets their own silly hardboiled voice-over. Directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are just transplanting the voice of Miller's "Sin City" graphic novels. But the sound soon drones in our ears, just as the semi-animated black-and-white visuals begin to feel dull. The bits of color (green eyes, yellow flames, red blood) have no logic but look cool. For a short while, puffed-chest pronouncements have pizzazz. Then the movie gets antsy, since comic-book iconography and attitude take things only so far.
David Edelstein, Vulture: In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, schlock director Robert Rodriguez and dark-souled graphic artist Frank Miller indulge in the crudest kind of nihilism, but they sure create some purty pictures. This movie, in black-and-white with judicious daubs of color, is the highest-gloss revenge porn imaginable. It's hard to believe that so much visual elegance has been brought to bear on material so ugly, and yet the disjunction is intentional, and the film is all of a piece. Knowing that everyone will go rotten is meant to free you up to enjoy the spectacle of pinwheeling dismembered bodies and blood that splashes like an Abstract Expressionist's oil paint. It's one big, beautiful shit canvas.
Mike McCahill, The Guardian: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's noir-inflected portmanteau Sin City offered a storehouse of lustrous CG imagery to global ad agencies, so it's surprising how much of this follow-up...still looks fresh...The weakness is in the material...But the vision remains uncompromising and it dazzles far more than any sequel should.
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" seeks to pay homage to the graphic novel format by re-imagining Frank Miller's tome as a feature film; unfortunately, the big screen and the 3D merely call attention to the aspects of the printed page that either don't work or don't translate easily from one medium to another...Green is the only female performer who sees through this movie's ludicrousness and dares to one-up it. Her nudity feels defiant -- she and even Brolin show a lot more skin than any of the strippers -- and she turns Ava's rapaciousness into one of the few tangible objects in this movie made up principally of special effects. This is Rodriguez's second sequel in a row, following last year's "Machete Kills," in which he turns sex, violence and general exploitation into an occasion for dullness. All either movie had to be was entertaining, but neither accomplishes that task; for a film loaded with decapitations and gun-toting ladies in bondage gear, "Sin City" gets really tedious really quickly.
Kwame Opam, The Verge: So, with a decade's worth of perspective, a movie like this asks us if we're willing to go back. Is Sin City worth the visit? The answer, frankly, is no...Miller told me at Comic-Con that the new film gave him "the chance to explore [his] world more deeply." That intent shines throughout; told in four intersecting stories, the film feels bigger, darker, and more expansive in scope, exposing us to more characters (both new and returning) and more places than we've previously seen. There's just more of everything: more guns, more blood, more dark alleys to get lost in, and more characters to wax poetic about life in a hopeless city...However scattershot the film may feel, though, it's nearly redeemed by its stellar cast, who do their level best to drive the remaining stories along with some feeling.
Jonathan Leaf, Forbes: The viewer will never be bored, and no one with an appreciation for fine art or visual design will be indifferent...None of the various stories is credible or realistic. Nor is the acting anything but hammy. In entering this comic book world, we are bringing ourselves into a dream universe of cliché masculine desires and fears...This is not a film for those who dislike violence or gore. Nor is it one to take a date to. But for those who see the motion picture art form as one based in the beauty of pictures, this is a movie to head out for.
Bill Wine, CBS Philadelphia: In some movies, style trumps substance. In the sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, it downright suffocates it...Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is less cohesive and more disjointed than its predecessor. It's like a fatally hip doodle pad. Instead of being led through a purposeful narrative, we bounce around from story to story as if at the mercy of a twister. And we respond to setups that don't then deliver payoffs, instead dispensing plot threads every which way. Consequently, we never quite come to grips with what should be the film's connective tissue and the ending seems particularly abrupt. Oh, it's visually arresting and then some, but this eye candy is neither fine nor dandy.
Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For never teases us with optimism. It's too modern for that, too sulkily self-aware. Why, then, should we watch? Instead of an emotional roller coaster, it's a mine shaft straight down to the bottom of existence that asks us to enjoy watching the rats tear each other to pieces...Still, the movie looks good, even when it wants to look bad...But A Dame to Kill For's best special effect is Eva Green...Green is sexy, funny, dangerous and wild -- everything the film needed to be -- and whenever she's not on screen, we feel her absence as though the sun has blinked off. She strips off more than Alba yet she's never just eye candy -- she's a full meal.
Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Gate: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, who collaborated in 2005 on the serialized, stylish and brutally satisfying "Sin City," should have stopped there. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is still a visual buffet, but adding 102 more minutes of double crosses, slow torture and hookers with hearts of gold just exposes the tediousness of the exercise...The story may be getting old, but the arterial blood spray still looks pretty great.